Wednesday, 27 March 2013

How to propagate your hostas

It’s the ideal time, in gardening terms, to divide hostas (springtime). 

Hostas are fantastic, leafy exotic garden plants, often seen in large numbers in thriving in the gardens of stately homes. They are particularly suited to dappled, half shaded light or even half shade, with luscious green leaves, adored by slugs. Varieties of hostas adorn any shady garden and if yours is a shady garden like ours, they are the plant of choice. Sadly, they are the plant of choice for slugs too. They can also be rather expensive, fully mature, which makes them most resistant to pests.  They deserve attention and nurturing, as a garden full of uneaten hostas is half-way to being true English garden.  

The answer for ŧhe "cash-strapped" gardener is not to buy them new, but to propagate from hostas in the ground already.  You can do this from seed, or by dividing the massed root.

Growing hostas from seed

Hostas have rather unimpressive flowers, which set seeds. Collect the flower spikes as the lowest pods start to shed seeds. Sow the seeds in “coir” (“Fertile Fibre” is ideal) at 15 degrees and keep in cold frame or on a window sill half shaded from direct sun to grow and then plant out, protected by sharp gravel from slugs

Propagating hostas by root division
You do this just as the new growth is coming up in spring while trying not to injure buds and shoots. Dig up the rooted clump and either divide by hand, or with a spade, to try to save some seedlings and shoots. Tough clumps can be divided with two forks back to back and split apart.  Re-plant in rich moist compost (see attached video).

The answer to the slugs is to plant a number of hostas all together in sharp gravel (and ideally egg shells) both of which prove a barrier for slugs. I have been told that planting them in overwhelming numbers is a slug deterrent, which The National Trust's gardeners swear by. My two lone hostas, planted in earth, were all chewed to their stalks last year by June, inspite of beer traps, having come up spectacularly in their second year. I am replanting them in the middle of what is now a muddy lawn but will be a redesigned gravel courtyard.  Dividing them now or in early April will come in handy.

Next: How to propagate hellebores

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