It is too often thought – wrongly! – that nothing grows at the base of large trees. The hostas, proves you the opposite. Its installation requires just a little delicacy in order not to damage the roots of the tree.
Planting a hosta under a tree
Where to plant a hosta in the shade?
Plant your hostas preferably in the shade or in half-shade! You can install them at the foot of trees or shrubs. They will be less sensitive to drought if they are planted in the shade, because the soil will stay cooler for longer. Avoid placing them in front of a white wall, which reflects heat and could burn them.
However, contrary to what is often thought, they can also be installed in the sun, avoiding hot situations. Besides, if you want to have flowers, the hosta must enjoy at least a few hours of sunlight per day!
Those best suited to bright exposures (non-scorching sun) are light-leafed hostas, like ‘August Moon’, and Hosta plantaginea. Similarly, Hosta ‘Guacamole’ enjoys being placed in the sun, while the blue-leaved varieties should be placed in the shade.
Unlike many plants, hostas tolerate heavy clay soils quite well! They also have a preference for slightly acidic or neutral soils. Hostas like to keep their soil cool, even humid. They will do well near a pond or a water feature. Avoid too dry areas of the garden! Preferably choose a location sheltered from cold, drying winds.
Hostas like deep soil. They are also rather greedy plants, which like humus-rich soils. A substrate of type “ground of underwood” is ideal. You can bring well decomposed compost to enrich your soil.
Hostas are perfect to occupy areas that are difficult to plant, because they are too shady or too heavy… They can easily be planted in a bed, in a border, as ground cover at the foot of trees or shrubs, or in a pot. You can plant them in a large pot or tub, to bring a touch of freshness on a terrace or in a patio, near horsetails, bamboos, ophiopogons and ferns. Planting in a pot will make it easier to keep them safe from slugs!
The smallest varieties can even be integrated into a fresh rock garden.
Finally, avoid installing a young plant in isolation. It could be eaten by slugs!
When to plant hostas around a tree ?
We advise you to plant hostas in early spring, around April, but you can also plant them in autumn, around October. Avoid planting in periods of high heat.
How to plant hostas at the foot of a tree?
To succeed in planting your hostas :
- Start by placing the root ball in a basin filled with water to rehydrate it.
- Meanwhile, work the soil to loosen it and take the opportunity to add some compost or well decomposed manure.
- Dig a hole two to three times the volume of the root ball.
- Place the root ball in the planting hole, with the top of the root ball at ground level.
- Fill in all around with soil, then pack lightly.
- Water generously.
It is preferable to continue watering in the following weeks, while the plant settles in and develops its root system.
We also advise you to place a mulch around the plant, composed of dead leaves, ramial fragmented wood (RCW), flax or hemp chaff, 2 to 4 inches thick.
If you are planting in a pot, there is no need to work on drainage. Fill a pot with potting soil, possibly mixed with garden soil, and plant your hosta.
Hosta in a pot
Growing hostas in a pot is quite possible, especially if you are looking for terrace plants in the shade.
- Make sure the pot is well pierced to avoid standing water.
- Use perennial, planting or universal soil.
- Water when the soil is dry on the surface, as potted hostas dread drought.
- Apply fertilizer for green plants at least once a year.
Maintenance of hostas around a tree
The maintenance of hostas is quite limited, they are plants that last in the garden and spread by themselves. They are rarely affected by diseases, and do not need to be protected from the cold in winter… They are especially afraid of slugs, and drought! Be careful to keep the soil cool, even humid.
Be even more careful if you planted them in a pot: the substrate dries out much faster than in the ground! Water regularly, preferably at the beginning of the day, and direct the water at the foot of the plant rather than on the foliage. We also advise you to add compost every year in spring to enrich the soil.
As the hosta disappears in autumn and only reappears late in the spring, it is best to mark its location to remember that it is planted there! For example, place a tag, a stake or a small wooden stake. You will avoid damaging it by spading it to work the ground and install other plants…
The hostas will appreciate if you bring a layer of mulch at their foot, 2 to 4 inches thick, for example by choosing dead leaves or ramial fragmented wood. This will help keep the soil cool!
You can cut off the flower stems when they are wilted, unless you want to collect the seeds. Also, because hosta is a deciduous plant, its foliage naturally dries in the fall. We suggest you cut it back at that time. New leaves will develop in the spring.
The main enemy of the hosta: slugs! Its generous and tender foliage inevitably attracts them, especially since it is grown in shady and cool places, often in the undergrowth… in other words, the living environment of slugs! Be careful when hostas are still young, especially if they are planted alone.
Slugs could cause real damage. On the other hand, if the clumps are large and ample, they will nibble some leaves but the plant will not be in real danger for all that. You can use slug pellets, such as Ferramol, or ash. You should also know that there are varieties with thick, tough foliage, more often neglected by slugs!
Hostas grown in pots are sometimes attacked by otiorhyncs, a beetle whose larvae consume the roots of the plant, weakening it. To get rid of them, it is possible to use nematodes, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, which parasitize the larvae.
Stump division allows to multiply very easily hostas and to obtain plants that bloom quickly. It is practiced at the beginning of spring before the regrowth, by digging up the stumps and by separating them in several pieces (by cutting the rhizome) provided with buds which are immediately replanted in the various planned places.
Attacks and diseases of hostas at the foot of a tree
The only serious enemies of hostas are slugs and snails that devour the foliage at all stages of its growth. To avoid this, make sure that neither slugs nor snails are hiding under the edges of the pots. In the open ground, be sure to surround the plants with very fine mulch such as crushed fern or flax chaff.