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when is it too late to transplant hostas?


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#1 IndySusan

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 01:04 PM

HI- I have a very pretty bed of hostas and astilbes. Last year I vowed to more 3-4 of the hostas that were crowding my astilbes but I didn't get it done this spring and now everything is huge! I have cut off several hosta leaves so the astilbes could have more room but it's not really enough.

Is it too late to dig up these full grown hostas? What's the worst case (besides death) - no bloom or sparse bloom later this summer?

or should i just live with it til this fall?
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#2 Guest_Corky_*

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 10:59 AM

Hostas thrive on abuse! I have dug them at every conceivable time of year. (Well, okay, never in January or February... and I'm not positive about December, but . . .) It has been my experience that they do well, provided you are generous with watering after they are transplanted. We spent last summer enriching the media of some of our hostas (they have to share with cedar trees) and dug them, tore the cedar roots free, and replanted them without a single loss... not even a pout, as I recall! I must admit, I do not consider the failure of a hosta to bloom a tragedy (and Larry positively detests the tall stalks: I have to weigh his dislike against the hummingbirds enjoyment of the blooms!), but I don't remember that they failed to bloom, either.

The disadvantage to doing such work during the growing season, of course, is dealing with all that foliage. With a large hosta, it can easily be a two man job! We dug them and carried them to a platform we had made of picnic benches. This allowed me to let the "heads" hang over the edge while I worked on the root ball and prevented too much damage to the leaves. I do recommend this arrangement if you need to lay them down. Most will sit upright between holes or can be taken right from one to another, but if you need to work on them, this saves the day. Ours did amazingly well. Even if yours get a bit disheveled in the process of moving, they will recover provided you don't remove all their foliage: you just may have to live with some scraggly looking plants for awhile, removing torn leaves after the plant has produced sufficient new ones.

Don't forget, while you have them out of the ground, that this is a great time to split any you want more of, or plan to share, and those with dead or empty centers. Please enrich the soil you plant them in, generously. A hosta can live a long time in one spot and you'll be glad you were generous at the start! Then water, water, water.... longer than you think you need to. They'll reward you by thriving as if they were never disturbed.
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#3 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 12:37 PM

I, too, take advantage of hostas' willing nature and move them at all times o the year -- even in late summer when I decide I need some fill somewhere.

When I divide hostas after they have come "up" for the year, I sometimes cut their foliage back and let them grow new. Unless the division is tiny, it has plenty of starch in it -- and plenty of latent buds -- to produce the new foliage. I prefer to see new leaves that have arranged themselves to the new site, giving the plant an "in the round" appearanc rather than being flat on one side where I cut to divide.

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#4 Guest_Corky_*

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 03:04 PM

Great idea! I need to be a leetle bit braver when it comes to defoliating transplants, I guess!
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#5 IndySusan

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 02:05 PM

Great! Thanks. Guess I better get busy making my new shade garden in the only area I have left that is shaded - north of the garage--the neighbors will enjoy it!
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#6 Guest_Cheryl Linck_*

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 08:49 AM

I, too, take advantage of hostas' willing nature and move them at all times o the year -- even in late summer when I decide I need some fill somewhere.

When I divide hostas after they have come "up" for the year, I sometimes cut their foliage back and let them grow new. Unless the division is tiny, it has plenty of starch in it -- and plenty of latent buds -- to produce the new foliage. I prefer to see new leaves that have arranged themselves to the new site, giving the plant an "in the round" appearanc rather than being flat on one side where I cut to divide.



Thanks Janet! I'm wanting to transplant allot of hostas now from a metro Detroit location to northern Michigan. I would like to cut back the foliage as they will be easier to deal with, though was hesitant as the plants have not yet begun to yellow and die back. Feeling more confident now after reading your post, and am excited that I 'stumbled' upon this forum and am now a member of 'Great Lakes Gardeners'!
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#7 Karin Andresen

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 08:53 AM

Welcome, Cheryl! It's great to have you part of the Gardeners' Community!
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