How to Split Hostas for More (Free!) Landscaping Foliage
Hostas are a common sight in gardens and landscaping across North America. They are easy to care for and good in partial sunlight. Although hostas don’t produce the showy blooms common on other popular garden perennials like roses and hydrangeas, hostas come in a wide variety of colors. Its eye-catching leaves create a tropical atmosphere without the demanding requirements.
Hostas can grow almost anywhere, be it in Montreal, where winters get mighty cold, or in the southern United States. But while these plants require minimal maintenance, at some point you will have to divide the plants to maintain plant size and health. You can also share hostas to propagate new plants for a lush subtree effect – you don’t have to go to your local nursery to buy new hosta plants.
How to split them up.
Tools & materials
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BEFORE YOU START
Be sure to put on gardening gloves before starting. These protect the hands from potential irritants. And you can avoid getting your fingernails dirty.
The ideal time to share hostas is in early spring or fall. In the spring, keep an eye out for hostas emerging from the ground. This is the moment to start sharing. In the fall, wait for the weather to be cool and damp to start the process and still give the plants enough time to establish themselves before winter sets in.
Hostas work best when split every 3 to 5 years or so, but the timing will vary depending on the variety. It is important to wait until a plant has reached maturity before splitting, as the process slows growth down significantly. For example, some large varieties of hosta may take at least 5 years to reach maturity.
STEP 1: Thoroughly water hostas the day before dividing.
Unless there is a lot of rain in the weather forecast, plan to water your hostas the day before you divide. Hostas are thirsty plants, so watering them well before splitting will avoid unnecessary stress. It also means that newly separated plants stay on track to thrive from the start. And don’t worry, too much water is rarely an issue with hostas. Remember, water is even more important for hostas planted in full sun.
STEP 2: Using a shovel like a lever, dig around the roots and lift the plant out of the ground.
To dig up hostas for splitting, use a spade or shovel. The tool required depends on the size of the system. Large plants with extensive root systems may require a lot of force to uproot, so a spade will not be enough.
Avoid stabbing the ground indiscriminately. This could damage the roots of the plant. Instead, gently push the spade or shovel into the ground, making sure to dig around and just outside the roots. Use the garden tool as a lever to lift the entire hosta plant out of the ground.
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STEP 3: Try to cut as few roots as possible to make the splitting process more effective.
The roots of the plant can grow quite deep, so it is possible that some of the roots will break off when the plant is lifted out of the ground. Try to dig as deep as you can. Dig around the plant so as not to remove too much of the root system. Cutting off too many roots can put strain on the existing plant and weaken the newly split plants. Do not rush the process. If you are careful now, you will not be disappointed later.
STEP 4: Loosen the roots and divide the plant into sections.
Once you have all of the root ball out of the ground, you can start splitting the plant. Shake off any excess dirt so you can better see what you’re working with. The pieces can fall apart easily, but some plants require the use of a sharp knife.
Separate or cut the plant into two or three clumps. Do not try to divide the plant into many small sections. Dividing the hosta in half or into thirds increases the chances that the new plants will survive. After splitting, remove any dead leaves before potting or replanting the divisions.
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STEP 5: Pot or plant in the ground any compartments you want to divide.
After you’ve separated the hosta, take the cuts and plant them in the ground or in a container. Place them at the same depth as before. Make sure the plants are getting plenty of water so they can take root quickly. You can also share shared hostas with family or friends. If you want to share them shortly after you dig them up, wrap them in damp newspaper. Otherwise, pot the new hostas in until it’s time to gift the plants.
This method of sharing hostas is easy, reliable, and a great way to get free plants for your garden.