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Hosta in Pots

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Hosta in Pots


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Growing Hostas in Containers 

First let me say that any one growing hostas must have a few in containers. Why, because you can do things with them that you cannot do with hostas in the ground. For instance – set them on the patio or deck (I have over 20 on my front porch steps), a hanging pot (I have 4), a wall pot (I have 4), on pedestals to show off purple petioles (I have 3) and grow them in impossible lawn areas (I have a bunch of those). Tree roots can be overcome with pots sunk in the ground (just don’t let a tree root find its way into the pot as it will be very happy there).

Now there are advantages and disadvantages to growing hostas in containers. My advantage however may be your disadvantage and vice versa. Overall I think the advantages, at least for me, out weight the problems. Certainly it costs more as you must purchase the pot but you get leaves without slug bites holes. Old Time Pottery has sales that allow you to save a good bit. I recommend that you buy plastic pots. They are cheaper, lighter and do not break as easily. Clay pots dry out too fast.
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One nice advantage is around mid-summer you can change your layout rather easily by moving a few pots around. A new look with little effort. Those hostas that need lots of sun to grow well like Fire and Ice can be placed in the sun early on and then moved to shade when the sun gets blazing hot. A pot allows you to change its environment at will. Some hostas, such as Hirao Majesty actually look better in pots than on the ground (it drapes down over the pot). I also like the upright ones in a pot.

Do pots require more work to maintain” Yes and no. They must be prepared for winter but do not require weeding. You can water them easier and quicker in pots however you must water them more often if the weather is wet which is seldom in our summers (last year was an exception). Usually they require less watering. If you wish to divide the plant, you just dump it out rather than dig it up.

I was doing a good bit of work to winter store them in my garage or open porch. I’m finding that all I need do is leave them in place but covered up to prevent water from collecting in them (crown rot will occur). I’m still amazed at how they manage to sprout up in the spring in a completely dry pot. The roots must hold a lot of water over the winter. I have a higher winter survival rate with potted hostas than those in the ground. For a hostas lover, that great. However they come up sooner which means covering them up one or twice to protect from late frosts. I keep them sitting together so I can easily do that. This year my potted plants were up at least two weeks before the ground plants and looked bigger and better for over 4 weeks.

I’m of the opinion that some hostas do not grow well in pots while other do much better. It seems as some get bigger in pots and some stay smaller. I had a Geisha in the ground for 8 years and put it in a wall pot and it got much bigger. My Fire and Ice was dying in the ground but has been most happy the last 6 years in a pot. Two Little Abners have passed away in a pot. My pot Sagae has never gotten as big as its division in the ground but it always looks better. I have much better results with small hostas in pots (actually in my dry yard I cannot grow small ones although Golden Scepter has survived 11 years)

A pot requires soil of some kind and you get to determine what kind. I use about one third dirt, one third pine fines or mulch and one third peat moss. I do not recommend a mixture that drains too well which some nurseries use. Hosta need water, why drain it away. I have actually grown a potted hosta sitting in a bird bath half filled with water all summer long. It did great. In the last couple of years I have been using non-draining pots (no drain holes) with great success. I can go about 3 weeks without watering big 12 inch pots and the hostas are doing great.

So as I said there are advantages and disadvantages to hostas in containers. But you do need to give it a try with a few. You just may like the results.