Frequently Asked Questions
How do I look after my hostas?
Hostas are hardy perennial woodland plants that
love shady, moist conditions so:
- give them plenty of shelter: preferably from trees
but walls and fences can to the job too
- don't let them dry out BUT don't let them become
water-logged: stand pots in a dish or tray and water from there.
This allows the plant to take all it needs and takes the guess work
out of watering.
There are a handful of cultivars that can withstand full
sun but we recommend you provide good levels of shade for the very best
Cultivars with white in the leaf are especially prone
to scorching and can be damaged by drying warm winds as well as direct
sunlight. Scorching reduces the white areas on a leaf to a papery, dry
consistency so you will be able to see the damage at an early stage.
If your plant does exhibit damage then try to provide more shelter for
Hostas are also prone to weather damage if exposed to
heavy winds and rain so planting in a well sheltered spot will help
protect against this. Over winter, we suggest you leave your pots on
their side to avoid waterlogging and then freezing as this can damage
the root system of your plants (and your lovely pots).
If you are collecting miniature hostas then we recommend
you pop them into containers for the first few years until they have
established themselves sufficiently to compete with the other plants
in your garden.
What should I feed my hosta?
Multipurpose compost/feed warning
If you use feeds designed for annuals on your hostas they will
become stressed, look weak and probably die back completely in
the autumn never to return.
Food additives in multipurpose composts are often too aggressive
for hostas, especially if the plants dry out a little as this
can intensify the nutrient levels.
As woodland plants hostas gain their nutrients
through the continual decomposition of rotting leaf litter. Therefore,
they do not require very much in the way
of food. If your hostas live in pots then give them a couple of feeds
of half-strength tomato food during the year, but no more. All our sales
plants, and the majority of our parent plants, are grown in pots and
we apply a seaweed feed in the spring as the only feed for the year.
If your hostas are planted in the garden then the
application of well rotted manure or garden compost, when the plants
enter dormancy in the autumn, will serve them well during the winter.
Top dressing with the same in the spring, together with an application
of slug pellets will give the plants an extra boost during emergence
whilst combatting early damage by the slugs emerging from hibernation
at the same time. An early top dressing can also help protect the emerging
shoots from late frosts.
Can I split my hosta?
Yes, but we recommend you wait until the spring
and see how your hosta looks as it emerges. If the new shoots are looking
a bit crowded together then that is a sign the plant could do with splitting.
If your plant is pot-bound then it may throw up premature flower spikes
rather than produce leaves - this is a sign that the plant is stressed
as it is trying to reproduce too early in the year.
Dividing hostas is easy - details of how to do this can
be found in our May
2007 newsletter and our December
What is your secret weapon
against slugs and snails?
Is it slugs or is it snails?
First, determine what has damaged your plant:
- Slug damage is indicated by holes in
the leaves on emergence. The slugs that do the damage emerge from
hibernation at the same time as your hostas and the only things
on their minds is food and reproduction. They are best targetted
In the past we have used Nemaslug
to great effect. Indeed it gave us two seasons of control in one
application. It is a common misconception that control only lasts
for the six week life cycle of the nematode, since during this time
the creature produces and itís progeny take over the task, if there
are enough slugs left for them. We also noticed that the nematode
worked against young snails.
However, the nematode is temperature dependent. Prolonged drought
or cold spells will make it necessary to re-apply.
- Snail damage shows as large lace-effect
gashes in the leaves throughout the season. Snails are the most
damaging of hosta pests aside from vine weevil and you will need
to spot treat regularly throughout the growing season to combat
this pest effectively.
We have devoted a couple of newsletters to this subject:
We use slug pellets,
simply because we cannot sell our plants with holes in the leaves. It
is really important that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines when
using slug pellets and we suggest the following hints to using them:
- Start using your chemical (metaldehyde-based)
or organic (iron phosphate-based, such as Ferramol)
pellets early on in the year, when the first warm weather hits.
The secret is using the product correctly...
- Use your pellets wisely, don't scatter widely
and wantonly, remember slugs and snails hunt by smell so you risk
attracting more of a problem than you need to solve.
- Keep your pellets dry by putting a teaspoonful
of pellets in a jar (on its side) hidden among the foliage. This
keeps the pellets effective for longer and any slugs in the vicinity
will snack on the them in preference to your plants.
Using nematodes to combat the slugs and pellets to combat
the snails leaves us with a little time to combat vine weevil, which
is altogether a more tricky pest to deal with:
- Vine Weevil damage shows as notches nipped
out along the leaf edges. This is done by the adult weevil, which
feeds at night and does not fly. Itís larvae feast on plant roots
to devastating effect. The larvae are white, about ĹĒ long, with brown
heads.We have found that they are most likely to cause damage in potted
plants, probably because they like soft peat. To combat this we always
add 20% sharp sand to our potting mix. We also take the precaution
of re-potting plants we buy straight away, in case we have imported
Nemaslug also produce a nematode solution for Vine Weevil
- find out more here
Hostas can suffer weather-related damage to the leaves, just like
any other plant. Hail, very cold rain and frost can cause very localised
damage to the cells, which then develop what looks like rust spots.
Wind and sun can scorch leaves, bleaching their colour and turning
then papery in consistency. Most of the images we are sent of leaf
damage can be explained as weather-related.
There are some plant viruses that can affect hostas and over recent
years hosta virus X, or HVX, has become more prevalent. The American
Hosta Society is funding research into this particular virus to understand
what causes it, and to determine how best to deal with it. AHS
policy is to destroy any suspect plants and to notify the nursery
who supplied it. The nursery can then screen their stocks of the variety,
if they don't already do so.
out more about the virus and AHS funded research.
Interestingly, it does seem that this virus can lay dormant for quite
a few years before showing any sign of infection, rather like many
other viruses that affect plants, and humans come to that. Indeed,
we have seen some very mature plants, which have obviously been cultivated
for a number of years, show signs of the virus. It is conceivable
that the symptoms could be triggered by climate changes or severe
We rather feel this has become more of a problem over recent decades
due to the proliferation of new introductions that have not been properly
screened before entering the tissue culture process. So far research
suggests that the virus can survive this process, which obviously
increases the potential of occurrance considerably.
Read more about HVX from the links to the AHS website
shown above, and we devoted a newsletter to the subject in November
Ordering from us
Ordering from us is easy, simply call us on 01449
711576, or email
us, with your order.
Your mail order plants will arrive by first class post,
bare-rooted and ready for planting in pots or directly into the ground.
To give them the best start plant in a well prepared
humus rich soil that is sufficiently friable to ensure good contact
with the roots. Make sure they do not dry out whilst establishing themselves,
but do not over water. Removing flowering shoots for the first season
will encourage plants to concentrate their energies on producing more
crowns and strong roots.
If planting out when frost may be a problem, protect with mulch. This
is also recommended for the early emerging cultivars, e.g. Montana Aureomarginata
and plants from the Tardiana grex.
We have an ever-growing list of highly satisfied customers
who have successfully ordered plants from us and love to tell us of their
joy at receiving such beautiful plants in this way. We could list a whole
bunch of bouquets but feel you should experience our mail order for yourselves.
Why not give it a go?
More information about ordering
We do not send out plugs!
We send out your plants ready for planting,
either into the ground or in containers. We believe it is our
role to ensure the plants we send you are garden-worthy, strong
and characteristic. However, they will take around 4-5 years to
mature into the examples we show in our photographs. To achieve
a similar impact simply order several plants of each variety and
then divide as they mature.