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.…

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.


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

8 Steps for Growing Hostas in Containers

Planting hostas in containers is a growing trend. Not only do they grow successfully in containers, they look great as well. Container hostas work great for small urban spaces, around a pool, or on a patio/deck in your backyard.

We have put together a list of 8 steps to having beautiful container hostas.

hosta in round container

1.    Select a container for your hosta. Hostas do great in several different container shapes, but make sure to keep the mature size of your hosta in mind when selecting a container size.

This will not only save you time and energy replanting down the road, but it will ensure that your hosta has enough room to grow.

2.    After you select a container, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.

If the container doesn’t come with pre-drilled holes, you can always add them using a power drill. It is recommended to have at least one, but two or three are ideal.

3.    Add a layer of rocks at the bottom of the container. This will aid in drainage and prevent soil from falling through the drilled holes.

4.    Fill the container with nutrient rich, easy draining soil.container hosta with ivy

5.    Plant your hosta in the container. Container hostas look great alone or with ivy hanging down the side of the pot. Just make sure that any other plants you add to your hosta container have relatively similar growing conditions.

Hostas prefer to be kept in shade to partial sun, so it wouldn’t be recommended to add a plant that requires full sun.


6.    Water your container hosta regularly, especially in times of extreme heat and wind. Hostas like to have moist soil, but they don’t do well with drenched soil (this can cause their roots to rot). Watering once every one or two days should be good.

7.    Fertilize regularly since the nutrients in the soil will wash away with watering.

8.    Enjoy your beautiful potted hostas for years to come!

potted hosta

*Note: It’s necessary for container hostas to go through a winter dormancy just like those planted in the ground. Don’t leave the containers outside.

Instead, they should be brought into an unheated garage or porch for the winter months. Once the threat of frost is over, your containers can go back outside for the upcoming season.

Comment below with any questions or experience you’ve had growing hostas in containers!

Fragrant Hostas

There are 58+ fragrant hostas, all with their roots in H. plantaginea!

H. plantaginea is the only fragrant species hosta, so any hosta with fragrance has H. plantaginea in its background.

Almost all of H. plantaginea offspring except H. ‘Fragrant Blue’ have a wonderful fragrance.  Fragrant hostas need ample sun to create a bloom.

H. plantaginea has the largest bloom of all hostas–approximately 6 inches.  The bloom is pure white and the most fragrant of all hosta blooms.

This plant blooms around 4 p.m. instead of 7 a.m. like most other hostas!  H. plantaginea is also unique in its ability to “reflush” new foliage during the summer months.  (Most hosta species send up all their foliage in the spring).

H. plantaginea originated in eastern China, near Beijing and Shanghai, where it can be hot and humid.  This means that fragrant hostas are often the most heat tolerant and can do well in the southern United States up to zone 8 and sometimes even zone 9.

H. plantaginea was commonly known as “August lily.” It was brought to Europe in the 1790’s.

H. plantaginea is a top hosta for hybridizing!

Because of the excellent traits of H. plantaginea, including large fragrant blooms, heat and humidity tolerance, beautiful form, “reflushing” of foliage, vigorous growth, and leaf sheen, it has been popular in hybridizing.  There have also been many sports from H. plantaginea and its offspring.

H. plantaginea ‘Aphrodite’, often called just H. ‘Aphrodite’, is a spectacular double-blooming, fragrant hosta and a sport of plantaginea.   Some people have a difficult time getting this hosta to bloom.  It seems to need moist soil, warm days and cool nights and plenty of sun to get it to bloom.  At HostasDirect, Inc. we have never had a problem getting ours to bloom.

Some other fragrant hostas include ‘Holy Mole’, ‘Guacamole’, ‘Stained Glass’, ‘Fragrant Bouquet’, ‘Avocado’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Fried Bananas’, and ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’.

Deer prefer fragrant hostas

Beware! Deer tend to eat fragrant hostas first!  They apparently have a sweeter taste.

About Flowering and Dormancy by W.George Schmid (copywrited 2008)

What makes a hosta go dormant?

Note, we are fortunate that one of the top, if not the top, shade plant botanists in the world, W. George Schmid,  has allowed me to print this helpful article.

About Flowering and Dormancy — By W.G. Schmid (© 2008 )


Hostas have a mind of their own when it comes to flowering and dormancy. Given a steady climate and weather, they flower faithfully and go dormant just at the right time.  If the weather turns on them, like our weather during the last few years, our usually reliable hostas become finicky and may not flower at all, and worse yet, go dormant during the middle of the summer.  They just will not “do their thing” if the environment turns on them.

First let’s concern ourselves with in-ground plants only.  Observing them “doing their own thing” gave me the idea of recording some of their now unusual behavior and compare it with their normal behavior when it comes to flowering and going dormant.  Most of all I have to say applies to and has been determined for species.  Sports and closely related cultivars may behave the same way, but most other cultivars (hybrids) have a mixture of genes and my determinations may not fully apply to them or apply in a modified way.  

Pots are an artificial habitat and can be moved around to change conditions.  This, of course, changes the environment on a whim and my notes do not apply to potted hostas.  Notwithstanding, I will deal with them peripherally.  Here is what I found, stated simply:

1) Flowering periodicity (timing) is rooted in genetics.

2) Dormancy is triggered by environment.

Genetics dictate if a plant is early-, mid-, or late-flowering. For example, H. kikutii is late flowering.  H. montana ‘Aureomarginata’ comes from a southern species of H. montana population so it comes up early wherever it grows.  It gets zapped north or south if there is a late freeze.  This trait cannot be changed by environmental factors because it is an evolutionary adaptation to the original habitat climate. If you don’t believe it, just observe H. ‘On Stage’, also a H. montana sport, but one that originated with a more northern population and comes up late enough to miss all the late freezes. So you need to know not only what species is involved, but also what latitude the parent population of a given sport grows.

Thus, for species growing all over Japan, like H. montana, the habitat location is imperative.  Hostas blooming time is set by genetic imprint, regardless of environment.  Yet, if a certain species has habitats that spread over different latitudes, there will be a difference in blooming time, due to an evolutionary adjustment to the location.  Most hosta species do not spread far and wide, so the blooming time is usually a uniform time.

Here in Tucker, Georgia, H. kikutii blooms mid-October until about November and I have some still blooming (in the final stages) out there now.  There is little or no difference in the blooming time between species on top of Black Rock Mountain (3600 feet) at the cabin or in our home garden in Tucker (1200 feet). So the primary timing for blooming start has nothing to do with elevation or temperatures (well, a little bit, but let’s not get complicated!).

Cultivars are another matter they have convoluted and mixed genes and it is impossible to draw conclusions since we don’t have their true genetic makeup in most cases.  They may be a hybrid between an early and late bloomer and one or the other might be dominant.  This could only be found out by observation and recording the results for each cultivar.

The rising of hostas in early spring is triggered by daylength (the days beginning to lengthen), the sun rising higher in the sky, and the outside temperatures beginning to rise. These environmental factors trigger a change in the supply of plant growth regulators (mostly hormones).

The concentration of each growth regulator changes in response to the favorable growing conditions; as a result, plant growth is stimulated.  But the internal growing mechanism is also controlled by the genetic make-up, meaning that the exact required values of warming and day length required differ depending on the original, evolutionary habitat.  That is why toad lilies wait until fall to bloom and daffodils come up while it is still snowing.

Shorter day lengths, i.e., the reduction in sunlight stimulates dormancy but that is INDEPENDENT of the flowering trigger.  Late blooming hostas bloom whenever they bloom in Japan (species only).  Thus, onset of dormancy can happen while there are full blooms on the raceme.  In fact, dormancy can be forced by early freezes while the hostas are in full bloom due to the fact they are late bloomers.

So dormancy is environmental and blooming is genetic. Hopefully they don’t overlap as they do with late blooming hostas sometimes.  H. ‘Tardiflora’ has inherited the late-blooming habit from H. sparsa. Here it blooms in mid-fall (a bit later than H. kikutii).

It is difficult to fool plants, including hostas.  Experimenting around with daylength or surrounding temperatures may be fun, but usually is prone to fail. Yes, you can cover the plant with blankets and change daylength but you will never be able to copy the natural rhythm of daylength.  Likewise, it is impossible to fake air temperatures (which are part of the dormancy trigger), unless the plants are grown in an isolation chamber or a greenhouse.

Root and rhizome chilling can be done in a pot, but for in ground plants it makes no sense since the cold will not penetrate the ground deep enough if you just put a pile of ice cubes on top of the plant.  Potting and freezing the plants in a freezer has been tried by people who want to have hostas up and showing in February Flower Shows.  It works, but it is difficult to time, since the warm-up timing has to be adjusted to early- or late-blooming varieties (genes).

Anyway, soil temperatures do not matter for dormancy, because the plants will already be dormant when the soil finally freezes solid up north.  In the south our soil never freezes (or maybe an inch or so).  Cold periods have nothing or little to do with size.  That is primarily controlled by genes, and the amount of moisture and nutrient flow.

Hostas add sugars to the rhizome for next years growth after expending a bunch for blooming and setting seed (late August to early November – location dependent). If the late summer/early fall is dry, they cannot make enough sugars to add size. During drought periods, the rhizome even diminishes in size and as we have seen here in the South, making the rhizome dwindle away and the plant simply disappears after two or three drought years as the rhizome gets smaller and smaller.

There is some connection to length of growing season and plant size. In the North, the season is shorter and the plants must grow faster to complete their seasonal cycle.  The leaves will also grow faster and larger.  In the South they can linger longer and the leaves grow slower and smaller (and maybe more numerous) because they have more time to complete their cycle.

Blooming is still genetically time, but plant growth depends on many environmental factors. Some very late bloomers will be sometimes be caught by early freezes and the flowers will never open or even develop because early freezes destroy the blooms and trigger plant dormancy.

The same happens during severe drought. A lack of moisture and/or high heat will make the plant reduce its transpiration load by shedding leaves or going dormant altogether to save what is left of the rhizome.

How far south will hostas grow? Zone 10 is NOT a hosta habitat. Yes, you can try with a few H. plantaginea derivatives and perhaps store them in a cool area during winter.  I have seen them in sub-tropical Italy in pots.  Being in pots exposes the entire plant to cold air temperatures and they may get enough dormancy to return in spring.

They fail in the ground, though, because the ground stays warm all season.  Whatever might let them succeed in zone 10 would certainly not be a garden habitat, but an artificial one, like that of a hot house for growing orchids in the North.  Some of the methods you suggest may work, but all are also artificial methods.

If you had a million dollars, you could build a cool house with the temperatures adjusted to zone 6 and lots of artificial watering during late summer.  That might work but it will cost a fortune.  Here in the South, people grow some hostas in zone 8, but that is about as far south as I have observed them (in Savannah).

I have never seen hostas successfully grown in the ground further south in Florida (zones 9 and warmer), but I have heard of a guy in Florida who installed an underground chilling system to keep his hosta roots cold.  It might be better to grow sub-tropical plants or cacti.