For hosta to thrive and reach their full potential they need a constant moisture supply through the growing season and a soil rich in organic matter. Hosta located in dryer soils will grow more slowly, put out fewer leaves and not look as lush especially during the summer months. Location, location, location is all important. But you can improve the location by digging deep and incorporating as much as 50% compost to the soil mix that goes back into the hole. This compost will improve fertility, water retention and provide drainage during heavy rains.
A mulch that is already partially decomposed is also beneficial. Over time this adds more organic matter to the underlying soil. Fresh hard barks or wood chips can be detrimental to hosta if you are not supplementing them with a nitrogen fertilizer. A better mulch for hosta is something like aged Dark Bark, aged manure or more compost. Some of the better garden centers will have bagged product that is a mixture of compost and aged bark. Freshly milled bark ties up nitrogen in the root zone as the soil bacteria begin to work on decomposing the bark.
If you add the proper amounts of organic matter previously described your hosta will not require a lot of fertilizer. An organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or processed chicken manure is ideal. Follow the label instructions and all the nutrients will be retained in the soil by the organic matter. If you prepare all your hosta beds this way you will observe that the best growth is obtained in the areas with more moisture. Growing the larger varieties in these areas would be best since they have heavier moisture requirements.
Different hosta selections will have different light requirements. Here are some generalities by leaf color but it is best to research your selections to determine their preferred light levels. Blue leaved hosta retain their color best in shadier areas where the sun does not penetrate between 10 am and 4 pm during the summer months. The gold leaved hostas can generally tolerate sunnier locations but even they can show sun scald if they receive too many hours of mid day sun. The variegated forms in general prefer light conditions somewhere in between the afore mentioned blues and golds. Hosta will make faster growth with more exposure to sun. However, this is at the risk of leaf damage that will be visible for the entire season. Morning sun with some early afternoon sun will maximise the fragrance produced by the fragrant blooming cultivars. Idealy these like 5-6 hours of total sun. See fragrant cultivars, that we grow, listed in the left hand column of the home page.
Keep these generalities in mind when you choose your location. Look up a particular hosta to see the ideal location. Do not hesitate to move them in the future if you observe too little growth in the shade or too much leaf scalding in the sun. This is all part of the fun of gardening. Have fun!
Information on this page is provided by New Hampshire Hostas.
For more great advice for your Hostas please visit their page. www.nhhostas.com