Once you add one hosta to your garden, you’ll definitely want more and more. If you’re patient enough and are willing to put in a bit of work, you won’t have to pay a thing for them! Here’s how to divide hostas!
Hostas are super common in a lot of traditional-style gardens and if you’ve ever tried to grow them, you know why. They thrive in shade or part-shade locations, they grow to be impressively large and lush very quickly, and they come in so many different interesting shades of green, chartreuse, and blue-green. We have a lot of garden space to fill in around our property and I’ve loved growing hostas because of how well they fill up that space, block out weeds, and just look so tidy without the need for much maintenance or attention at all. I’ve added a few hostas to my collection from the garden centre over the years, but most of what we have in our gardens right now came from splitting the existing plants that were here when we moved in. Once I got the hang of it, splitting hostas was a quick and easy way to add to our gardens and keep them looking healthy and well-cared for. If that sounds like your type of gardening, let’s talk about how to divide hostas!
Tools and Supplies Needed to Divide Hostas
- Existing hostas growing in your garden
- A good sharp shovel
- A watering can or hose (You know what a watering can looks like, I just have a thing for beautiful watering cans and this one is currently the watering can of my dreams! But why is it so reasonably-priced? I don’t get it!)
- Compost or nutrient-rich garden soil
- A garden edger (optional, but helpful for slicing through the hostas cleanly)
Really, you can do this with just a shovel if you’re just getting started with gardening. Hostas are usually so forgiving that it’s pretty hard to mess this up, even if you don’t have many special gardening tools yet. 🙂
How to Decide Which Hostas to Divide
The first thing you need to do is locate a hosta in your garden that’s ready to be split. Typically, hostas are supposed to be able to be divided every three-four years, but I find with most happy plants that I can actually divide them pretty much every year if I want to. If you wait three-four years, you can usually split the hosta into three-four sections and get a few more plants out of the deal. 🙂
I should note that I’ve actually never had a single hosta die on me after splitting and transplanting. Generally, if the plant has survived a few years and is pretty happy in your garden, it will continue to be, no matter how often you split it. I’ve only ever lost new hostas that I bought from the garden centre and probably planted them in a location in the garden where they weren’t really happy. And this has only happened maybe twice. What I’m saying is that hostas are super easy to keep happy. 🙂
How to Divide and Transplant Hostas
After you’ve decided on your hosta, and a location that you’d like to plant your new hosta plant, it’s time to start digging!
You can do this just about any time during the growing season, from spring to fall, but I really prefer to do it in the spring when the hosta just starts to make its first appearance. That way I can see where the plant is, but I don’t have to avoid big, floppy leaves or worry too much about damaging the plant by crushing the leaves.
Carefully slice into the earth with your shovel in a circle about four to six inches around the plant, as shown.
Loosen the root ball with your shovel, then lift the whole thing out of the ground and place is on a level surface. I always just work on the lawn rather than the walkway because the dirt that falls off will just wash right back into the grass.
Slice right through the middle of the root ball from the side. If your plant is bigger and more mature, you can slice it into more than two sections. You want to slice as cleanly as possible and try to avoid damaging any of the spikes on top. This can be a bit challenging depending on how densely packed the soil is under you plant. I really have to put all of my weight into it to slice through. If you find that your root ball is rolling around and you’re having a tough time, something with a straighter blade than a regular shovel, like a garden edger, might be the perfect tool for this job.
Now that you have your two (or more) plants all divided up, it’s time to replant them. Dig a hole where you’d like to plant your new hosta and make it a few inches deeper and wider than the root ball. Take some compost or some store bought garden soil and sprinkle a bit of that into the bottom of the hole, just to give the roots something soft and nutrient-dense to work into as the plant is getting established in its new home. You can do this in the old hole too where you’ll replant the first half of the root ball. Because why not? 🙂
Drop your plant halves into the two holes and make sure the top of the root ball is level with the ground.
Fill in around the root ball and tamp it down with your boot to remove any air holes.
Try to water the hosta a little bit every day until you can see that the plant is well-established and happy.
That’s it! You just made yourself a free hosta!
Are you as obsessed with dividing plants in your garden as I am? I just can’t stop making more and more and I find myself sneaking out almost every day to split something lately. 🙂
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.