By Kelly Jacobi
Hostas are a popular perennial plant featured in gardens indoors and out across the country. A healthy hosta plant can produce a large cluster of other hostas in a tight bunch. If you’d like to divide the bunch either to care for your plants or to make use of them elsewhere, you’ll need to follow a simple set of steps.
Don’t miss our complete guide to caring for hostas here.
When deciding on a time to divide your hostas, it’s good to consult the forecast. Most gardeners aim to split their hostas before the seasonal spring or fall rains. If you divide your specimens in the spring, aim to do so when the plants are growing but before the leaves begin unfurling. If you plan to divide your hostas in the fall, plan for a time when the weather is cool and moist.
Before you begin, set up a good workspace. If you’re dividing a large cluster of hostas or would like to take your time while working, it is a good idea to have water handy. If you have the space, a small, shallow plastic pool works well, especially for large plants. If you’re tight on space, a bucket will do.
Hostas are resilient plants but suffer when their roots are compromised. It is important to take care before, during, and after splitting your plants to minimize root damage. You’ll also want to take care to do as little damage to the eyes, the part of the plant from which the leaves grow, as possible.
If your plant is in the ground, you will need to dig it up. Allow a generous margin around the clustered plants to avoid damaging the roots. A handful of inches around the plant should be enough clearance to prevent any roots from being chopped by the shovel while digging.
Once your cluster of hostas is free, remove as much dirt as possible. This can be done by gently agitating the dirt with your fingers. Dipping the plant in water can make it easier to remove dirt, especially if the soil is muddy.
When you can clearly see what you’re working with, begin gently prying apart the stalks of the plant. It should be easy to see where each plant’s roots originate, which will help you split the hostas without tearing too many roots.
If you have trouble prying the plants apart with your fingers, a sharp, sterilized knife can be used to cut the roots apart. Do your best to leave the eyes and larger roots intact.
While the plants are out of the soil, keep the roots moist. Submerging them in water is the easiest way to make sure they don’t dry out.
Aim to plant your newly divided hostas at the same depth they were growing before you began. Once they are in the ground, water them generously to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure the smaller root system has plenty of moisture.
Kelly Jacobi is an artist, designer, student, and patio gardener who enjoys seeing her plants thrive, and adorning her walls with pieces of art created by local artists and artisans.