Fall Gardening Tips for Zone 4

Fall Gardening Tips for September Through November:

Below are fall gardening tips for gardeners in zone 4. Your timing may be different depending on your location. These same tips have been featured in a recent newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter please visit our website and enter your email.

Fall is a great time to plant hostas!

Hosta roots continue to grow until the ground is frozen. We have planted Starter TC hostas as late as the second week of November in Minnesota while it was snowing, and they did great.

The one exception might be with fragrant hosta varieties that evolved further south in eastern China from H. plantaginea. However, these fragrant varieties are often hybridized with more cold tolerant hostas so it is difficult to predict. To over winter well, they might need to get more established before planting or make sure you cover them through the winter.

Hostas planted now will come up looking fresh in the spring. A cold winter dormancy triggers plant hormones, called vernalization, that make the plant better.

Do not fertilize after July 31st. Your plants need to slow down so they can go dormant.

We recommend you label your plants before winter with a durable plant identification marker. The styrene labels that come with our plants or from other vendors get brittle, break, or come out of the ground easily.

From our experience and those of our customers, it is very frustrating to not be able to remember your plants’ names. Our IDeal Garden Markers business offers unique stake and nameplate options, custom engraving, and labeling services and products.

fall gardening tips

Water your plants in the fall.  Dry conditions during this period before dormancy leave the hostas subject to crown rot. In addition, oxygen in the root area creates healthier plants. Remember that hostas planted under trees may need extra water as the tree’s foliage may prevent the water from getting to the hostas, and their roots compete with hostas for what moisture there is.

Slugs: You will get “most bang for your buck” by putting down slug killer just before the slugs lay their last batch of eggs. In Minnesota that is often around the second week of October. For more information on slugs and other hosta pests, see our Hosta Pests Info page.

Foliar Nematodes:  These microscopic worms that leave brown streaks in your hosta’s leaves start to appear as early as late June in the south and the third week of August to the third week of September in the north. HostasDirect, Inc. has never had a foliar nematode reported in the plants we have sold in 9 years. More information on Foliar Nematodes here!

With our Starter TC and Advanced Starter, you are assured of a clean plant as they are grown in sterile clean room environments and virus tested.

Our Mature Divisions were all started from Starter TC – and we have never had one complaint.

Removing blooms or seeds: To help the bees and other pollinators, we recommend you please leave your blooms on your plants until the blooms expire. Then, you can cut off the blooms before they go to seed. Removing spent flowers before seed production will allow more energy to go into the plant.

Should you cut off your hosta’s foliage before winter? Doing so saves a lot of work in the spring. In addition, some gardeners think cutting off and removing foliage creates less of a haven for foliar nematodes, fungal diseases and slugs, and your yard looks clean in the spring.

Fall Gardening Tips for November or December:

Do NOT use wood chips for winter cover! Wood chips may cause your plants and their roots to rot.

For HostasDirect’s recommended winter mulch method, see our Overwintering Perennials Page.

Cover some perennials just after the ground freezes!  Covering is cheap insurance to protect your investment of time, money, work and emotion. We recommend covering all first year perennials you purchase from us. In particular mini and smaller hostas (as they have more shallow roots), hostas and coral bells planted later in the season, and fragrant varieties of hostas. Beware of voles and mice.

How and what to use for covering plants: In the first year, after the ground is frozen, protect your hostas and coral bells with 6” to 1’ of straw or leaves (in a bag or secured by other means so they don’t blow away). This helps stabilize soil temperature and moisture ranges, reduces freeze / thaw, and prevents hostas from growing too early in the spring only to be damaged by frost or snow.  See an illustration of this method here.

The benefit of snow: Snow acts as insulation and keeps the soil temperature warmer and more even. We worry when there is little or no snow and the temperatures are very cold and prolonged!

If you follow the above fall gardening tips, your plants should come up looking fresh in the spring. Please note that these tips are for Zone 4. Your timing could differ based on where you are located.

Rest, Renew, Regrow | Hosta Growth Stages After Planting

Author: Peter Kelly, Content Manager

Rest, Renew, Regrow

Those are are three “R”s of horticulture.  They apply to hostas just as they do to any other plant. The three “R”s help us understand the hosta growth stages.  With those words I will answer one of our consumer’s questions: Why are my hostas NOT growing?

Before getting to those three “R”s, the gardener needs to understand that EVERY TIME they move a Hosta it goes into what is known as; “transplant shock”. Then it will go through different hosta growth stages as it adapts to its new surroundings.  

It is a thousand times better to find that right place for the hosta, plant it, and care for it as you wait for it to grow vigorously!

OK, so you have your new hosta or heuchera planted and you’re excited for it to mature; but the plant just sits there.  We assure you that only in film can a plant go ‘sproing’ and suddenly become full sized.   The thing with gardening is that you have to be patient.  How patient?  Rest, Renew, Regrow!

Hosta Growth Stages Using the 3 “R”s

The first stage after you plant something it will … Rest.  Resting means acclimating itself to where it is planted, getting used to the new spot of sun; trying to figure out what nutrients are below it.  If you plant it late in the season it might rest through the second year as well.

The second stage will … Renew.  Renewing means the plant might grow even a little smaller or to the size of what you first planted it.  Fear not brave gardener for the plant is not being lazy on you!  Be it known your plant is growing UNDER the ground and sending out rhizomes and gathering those important nutrients.  Again, depending on the variety, it might carry its renewing into a second year. This is all just part of the hosta growth stages.

We get to the third stage … when the plant Regrows.  This is that hosta growth stage where we may see leaps and bounds of growth.  This is also the time where you might see your first scape and blossom on your plant.  With each year after, the plant will keep moving toward maturity.  Some hostas mature in three (3) years and others take 6 to 8 years primarily due to size and general rate of growth.

Even after that, the plant will continue to look good for years to come if cared for properly.  Over these years, if the gardener is nice they may put in some extra fertilizer to help and encourage the plants to grow.  Remember over-fertilizing can have hazards as well, so fertilize responsibility.

Now lets all take a deep breath and reflectively say, “Rest, Renew, Regrow.”;  and remember to fully exhale.…

10 Ways to Keep Deer Away From Hostas

Deer are a common problem for hosta lovers. One day your garden will be nice and lush, and the next morning you will be left with a bunch of chewed-off stems. This can be very frustrating, so we’ve decided to put together a blog post on ways to keep deer away from hostas to prevent this from happening to you.

keep deer away from hostas

There really is no surefire way to keep deer away from hostas. There are, however, a number of options you can use to help stop them. Several options are listed below.

Tips to Keep Deer Away From Hostas:

  1. Wireless Deer Fence – a sweet smelling deer training device that will train the deer through negative reinforcement. Effective method proven to keep deer away from hostas.
  2. Deer Scram – all natural granular repellent to keep deer away from hostas and other plants including shrubs and trees.
  3. Liquid Fence – a liquid repellent that you spray directly on your plants (be careful not to apply in direct sunlight as this could burn the plant). The scent of the spray will deter deer and other garden pests from destroying your garden.
  4. Plantskydd – an odor-based repellent that deters deer and other pests before they taste the plant.
  5. Put up a fence – this may be the most effective way to keep deer away from your hostas, but it is also the most expensive method. The fence should be 8′ to 10′ high.
  6. Get a dog – having a dog can be an effective way to scare away deer.
  7. Avoid fragrant hostas – deer are attracted to the smell of fragrant hostas. If you have a lot of deer near your home, you might want to avoid planting these in your garden.
  8. Human hair – spread human hair around your garden to keep deer away from your hostas and other plants.
  9. Noise and/or light deterrents – place sensor lights around your garden that will turn on when deer come near your garden. The light will scare them away. You can also try putting radio noise in your garden to scare deer.
  10. Don’t feed the deer – feeding them will just encourage them to keep coming back.

These are just a few tips that can help you keep deer away from hostas and other plants in your garden. There are several deer repellents out there, it’s just a matter of figuring out which method works best for you. We don’t enforce any of the above methods, this is just simply to provide you with information.

Comment below with any other methods that are effective for you!

How to Get Rid of Slugs Eating Hostas

Slugs are a common pest in your hosta garden. Slugs look like snails, but without the shells. They prey on hosta leaves, which means missing foliage and small holes in your hosta’s leaves. They are annoying pests for any hosta enthusiast and can ruin the look of your garden.

How to get rid of slugs eating hostas

This spring, we’ve been noticing a lot of people having slug problems. Slugs prefer lots of moisture. With all the rain we’ve had this year, slugs are everywhere. They prefer cool, dark conditions, so they usually strike at night or when there is cloud cover in temperatures above 50°F. It is important to be proactive with slugs. It is better to start baiting for them early in the spring rather than wait until you notice the first damage on your hostas. Below are a couple tips on how to get rid of slugs eating hostas.

Tips on how to get rid of slugs eating hostas:

  1. Eggshells – crush them up and place them around your hostas. Slugs won’t crawl over eggshells because the sharp edges cut them. Some people save eggshells throughout the winter months in a Ziploc bag. Then, in the spring when they are dried out, they crush them up and place them around their hostas.
  1. Coffee Grounds – just like with the eggshells, lay coffee grounds around your hostas. The caffeine is deadly to the slugs. They will soak up the caffeine through their feet when crawling over the coffee grounds, killing them.
  1. Beer traps – take a small shallow container (cottage cheese container cut down to an inch works great) and bury it to ground level next to your hostas. Then, fill it with beer. Slugs are very attracted to beer and will fall into the trap and drown. You will want to empty and refill the traps each morning (depending, of course, on how many slugs have drowned in the trap).
  1. Epsom salts – place a ring of the salts around your hostas. The slugs won’t go near it!
  1. Put up lots of birdhouses – birds eat slugs, so having lots of birdhouses around your hostas will attract lots of birds to eat the slugs. Problem solved! I’ve also heard of people placing rings of birdseed around their hostas to attract the birds.
  1. Plant slug resistant hostas – Some hostas have thicker leaves that are much harder for slugs to eat. Planting these will reduce the amount of slug damage. Here’s the slug resistant hostas on our website: https://www.hostasdirect.com/buy-hostas?hosta_slug_resistant=502
  1. Slug-killing products from garden store – you can find several slug-killing products at your local garden store such as Sluggo. These have all been effective.

These are tips on how to get rid of slugs eating hostas that have been effective in the past. You will just need to find the method that is most effective for you on how to get rid of slugs eating hostas.

We’d love to hear about any other solutions that have worked for you! Comment below with any tips!

Gardening Tasks for July

July is a great time to get out and enjoy your garden. By July most of the hard work of spring is completed and this leaves you with plenty of time to sit back and enjoy all your hard work.

We’ve put together a list of six gardening tasks for July to keep up with as your garden progresses through the growing season:

1.     Keep up with deadheading flowers. This not only makes your garden look nice, but also encourages some plants to continue blooming. Who wouldn’t want more flowers?water plants-gardening tasks for july

2.     Make sure your garden has plenty of moisture. The hot summer days can sometimes be quite daunting on plants and they may need more water on hot days. It is recommended that one inch of water per week should be good for hostas. Spread this out over two or three days of watering throughout the week for best results. You don’t want to drown your hostas with too much water at one time. Plants in containers will need to be watered more regularly than ones in the ground. Hanging baskets, especially, dry out quicker and will likely need to be watered daily. If possible, collect rainwater to water your plants.

3.     Keep up on the weeding in your garden. A little time now could save you a lot of time down the road. I’m sure we can all agree that weeding is not the most fun task out there, but it is important. Not only does it help with the appearance of your garden, it can also help prevent slugs and other pests. A clean garden is less likely to have a pest problem than one covered in weeds. Spending ten minutes weeding your garden once per week is better than spending an hour doing it once per month. Do not let the weeds go to seed!

4.     If you haven’t done so already replace/place mulch in your garden. This is one of the important gardening tasks for July because the mulch will help keep moisture in the soil around so they don’t get as dried out, especially on the hot days. Mulch can also help keep slugs away from your hostas.

5.     You can continue fertilizing your hostas throughout the month of July, but we recommend not doing it any later than July 31st.

6.     Bring a lawn chair out to your garden. Sit back and enjoy your hard work.

That concludes our list of gardening tasks for July. It really isn’t too bad, is it?!

Keeping up with these six gardening tasks for July will keep your garden in tip-top shape throughout the summer. It really is a great month to enjoy your garden when most plants will be in bloom and most of the hard spring work is over.

Enjoy!

Comment below on how your garden is doing this year so far. We’d love to see pictures!