Winter care for hostas

Updated April 17, 2017

Hostas are often used for landscaping and are a common choice for UK gardens. These hardy plants should live through the winter without any problems, even in northern areas that experience ice and snow. Leave your hostas in the ground through the winter and take a few steps to care for the dormant plants, and the hostas will reappear in the spring as healthy and vigorous as ever.

Before winter

If your hostas are large and well-established, you don't need to worry about them at all until mid-winter. However, if your hostas are smaller, they should be covered with mulch or compost for added protection before the first frost. A few centimetres of leaves, mulch or compost will shield smaller hostas if the ground shifts during freezing, pushing their small root systems out of the soil. Cover each hosta with a 10 cm (4 inches) of organic mulch or compost in late autumn, just before the first frost.

During winter

Larger hostas will simply freeze when the first frost hits and their leaves will die. Later in the winter, in late January or February, rake the dead leaves off the frozen ground. The hosta is still alive underneath the soil and will reappear in the spring, but dead leaves need to be removed. If you covered your smaller hostas with mulch, leave them until early spring.

Spring jobs

When the weather begins to warm in March, rake away the mulch or compost you used to cover your smaller plants. Make sure any dead leaves are gone, so all you see is soil. At this point your hostas are still dormant beneath the ground, but when the ground thaws and the weather improves you will see small green shoots poke through the soil and your hostas will be back before you know it.

Pot plants

If your hostas are in containers rather than in the ground, they will require some extra winter care. Soil in pots will freeze all the way through in the winter, which may kill your dormant hostas. If your container is less than 60 cm (2 feet) wide on any side, you will need to add insulation to keep the hostas alive. Wait until after the first frost and remove the dead leaves. Cover the surface of the soil with 7.5 cm (3 inches) of mulch. Containers less than 30 cm (12 inches) on any side should be moved indoors to a cool room for the winter. If your container is larger than 60 cm (2 feet) on each side, follow the directions for hostas planted in the ground.

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About the Author

After graduating college in December, 2008, Lorraine O'Neil began working full-time as a freelance writer. Since she has been working professionally, O'Neil's articles have been published on websites such as DIY Chatroom. O'Neil holds a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.