Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When to Divide Hosta?

(A beautiful inflorescence of hosta flowers found in Union Square, July, 2007. Photo credit: Alex Feleppa)

I wanted to divide a few of my hostas because they are too big. My hostas are beginning to bloom and I’m not sure if this is a good time to thin my plant. Should I wait until fall to divide my plants?

You mean your hosta are beginning to leaf out, not flower, right? I don’t know of any hosta that bloom this early – the ones I see are just breaking ground with new leaves now.

Honestly, I think it would be fine to lift and divide them right now, but do not wait any longer. The general rule of thumb is that you want to lift and divide your large perennials and grasses soon after they flower so you give them enough time to establish new buds and flowers for next time. Often this means that spring flowering plants are divided in early fall and fall bloomers are best divided in early spring. Of course, there are always exceptions in the world of proper horticulture so if you are unsure it is best to refer to your favorite reference books before breaking ground. Hostas bloom late summer and are so tough, I have divided them in spring and fall and every time they have held up fine for me. Not to mention it is definitely easier to lift them, place them on their sides, divide, and transplant now while the foliage has not yet emerged, or is still very small. In some cases if I lifted and divided them on a sunny or hot day the foliage might have gotten a little beaten up, but again, they are such tough plants that I’m sure they would bounce back and be fine in the long run. If the foliage is up very far and you fear you might damage the plants too much to move them now then obviously you can wait until fall.

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