Hosta is one of the most reliable plants for shaded gardens. They're low-maintenance plants that make few demands of the gardener. Once established, hosta provides dramatic foliage in a wide range of variegations. The leaves emerge in late spring and quickly become dominant features among other shade perennials. In mid- to late-summer, the foliage supports elegant stalks of bell-shaped flowers in white or shades of lavender. White flowers usually have a sweeter scent than the lavender. These sturdy plants continue to add interest into the autumn as the impressive clumps of foliage take on the golden tones of the season.
Hostas can be left in place indefinitely and require little attention, so it's wise to incorporate a generous amount of organic matter into the soil prior to planting. This improves moisture retention of the soil and encourages good root development. Plant hostas in shady or partly shaded areas, and water regularly for optimum growth. At higher elevations, exposure to too much sun can result in scorched leaves.
The enormous range of sizes and varieties allows you to pick an appropriate hosta for many garden needs. Smaller, compact varieties are perfect for grouping at the front of a bed or border, or for edging. Mid-size hostas may be planted in groups or used individually to provide contrast to an individual perennial or shrub. The larger varieties that grow to heights of four to five feet can easily stand as sentinel specimens that add a lush look to your garden.
Some well-known hosta varieties that grow to a height of 18 to 30 inches include Frances Williams, Krossa Regal, and Sum and Substance. Albo Marginata, Royal Standard and August Moon grow 12 to 18 inches tall. Ginko Craig, Blue Cadet and Pearl Lake feature compact foliage and are useful as edging because their height doesn't exceed 12 inches.
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HOSTA - DIVIDING
Hostas should be divided in early spring as plants emerge from the ground. Dig the entire clump and carefully separate plants.
Some plants are slow to divide, such as large, blue colored plants. Others, may need dividing every three to four years, such as those used as edging.
Hostas require little or no fertilizing. In fact, over fertilizing can be detrimental to some of the variegated types, causing the colors to fade.
If plants are slow to develop and multiply, decomposed manure can be incorporated into the soil around clump.
A teaspoon of 10-10-10, 12-12-12 or 15-15-15 fertilizer per clump will provide the necessary nutrients for yearly growth.
Hostas aren't really grown for flowers. However, some plants have attractive flowers and should be allowed to bloom. Remove blooms stalks soon after plants have finished flowering to prevent seed development.
Most hostas thrive in full shade, though a few can tolerate more sun, especially those with yellowish foliage. Blue and blue-green hostas should be planted in full shade. Variegated plants can tolerate partial shade.
A well-drained, rich organic soil is ideal for growing plants. Work the soil to a depth of six to eight inches.
HOSTA--PROPAGATION, ROSS METHOD
Some hostas are slow to divide, especially some of the large, thick crown types. The Ross Method, developed in the United States should help encourage additional plants to form.
In the spring or early summer, carefully remove the soil around the hosta's stem, exposing the white basal plate. This is the area right above the roots. An extremely sharp, and thin, knife is inserted into the basal plate and cut down through the roots. Another cut at a 90 degree angle (right angle) to the first cut can be made. The knife is removed, and soil replaced around the crown. While it isn't necessary, some growers will insert a toothpick into to the wound to encourage callus tissue formation.
Callus tissue will form on the basal plate where the cuts were made. A growth bud usually will also form, giving rise to another plant soon or in the following growing season. Plants may slightly yellow or look anemic for a week or two. However, plants in a loose, high organic soil are quick to recover.
Many hosta growers & hobbyists are using the Ross Method before planting large types to encourage side plant productions as soon as possible.
Make sure knives are clean and sterilized before cutting.
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