Hostas: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing and Caring for Hostas

Hosta plants are some of the most popular low-maintenance plants. These plants love the shade. The low maintenance required to care for these plants is one of the huge benefits for owners. Many hosta plants can be planted outside in a garden as well as indoors in your kitchen or anywhere else you would like to see a pop of color.

Hostas are perfect for shady areas of your yard. These plants come in many shapes and sizes, and some of them have different care requirements because of this. Check out this guide for everything you need to know about growing and caring for hostas.


When planting hostas, you will want to begin planting them in either the early spring or fall. Hosta plants bloom in June, which makes them the perfect plant to help fill your yard for the summer thriving months of the year. During the winter, hosta plants will wither.

Withering is the plant’s way of conserving energy during the cold months to survive the winter. Even indoor hosta plants will experience a season of dormancy during the winter months, replicating what they would be like if planted outside. Luckily, hostas are perennial which means they will come back bigger and stronger every year. This is a great benefit for those who do not want to have to replant each spring.

Hosta plants can either be used for ground cover, or as individual bushes/plants throughout your garden and yard. When planting hosta plants to use them as ground cover, ensure you have completed your research regarding the size of the specific hosta plant you have. You do not want to overcrowd your yard with hosta plants, no matter how stunning they may appear.

While some hosta plants only grow to be around 1 foot tall and 1.5 feet wide, there are certain hostas known as “giant hostas” which can grow up to 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide! When picking the specific hosta plant for your yard, ensure you know the size of the mature plant.

While caring for hostas in your yard, you want to make sure that your plant does not get infected by Hosta Virus X. It is a virus that hostas get that, while not fatal to the plant, makes the plant look sickly and infected. The biggest danger of the Hosta Virus X is its ability to spread quickly to other hostas.

If one of your hosta plants has this infection, you should dig it up immediately and throw it out. Ensure that your tools are all properly cleaned to remove any possible chance of cross-contamination with the other plants. When purchasing hosta plants, you want to make sure none of the leaves on your plant or any surrounding plant have symptoms of Hosta Virus X.

Hostas & Sunlight

Most hostas are adapted to low light conditions and do best in shade. Originally, hostas naturally grew in the shaded loamy forests of Japan. Therefore, most common varieties do best in shade.

However, there are some hybrids that are adapted to either morning, afternoon, or even full-day sun. Take into account though, hostas still like moist, sheltered, and gentle environments as they originate from forest conditions. 

Therefore, even if you have a hosta that’s been bred for sun exposure, make sure you don’t place it in a dry, exposed area where the sun bakes down all day—as it probably won’t like this level of exposure. 

Lastly, if you have a colored hosta variety, these tend to do best in dappled shade, as the additional sunlight helps to bring out their colors. 


Soil For Hostas In The Garden

When caring for hostas (or any other type of plant) one of the most important things to educate yourself on is what kind of soil they prefer. 

Hostas typically do best in loose, loamy, rich soil, full of carbon and organic matter. They like their soil to be water retentive, but not too heavy or clay-filled.

If you have sandy or clay soil, you will need to amend this with lots of compost and organic matter to get it to a loose consistency, but still one that holds water. 

When it comes to pH, hostas like soils that are around the 6.5 mark. However, while this is their ideal pH point, it is still worth planting hostas in soils that are slightly more acidic or alkaline, as they will most likely do fine. 

Watering Hosta Plants

Another important component of caring for hosta plants is giving them the right amount of water. This is especially critical if they are in a pot. 

Hostas like a fair amount of water, and tend to do well with a deep weekly watering routine. Deeper, weekly waterings will encourage them to establish a strong and sturdy root structure. 

As a rule of thumb, you can try giving your hosta 2.5cm of water at a time, and scale this up or down depending on how they respond. Hostas tend to be more sensitive to underwatering than overwatering, so er on the side of more rather than less. 

Fertilizer For Hostas

Hostas are relatively easy to fertilize. You can either choose to apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer, or you can apply a generous amount of compost to them every couple of seasons. 

Hostas for sale at the garden center

How To Plant Hostas

If you wondering how to plant hostas into the ground, start by examining the roots. If the roots or bulbs are very dry, it’s recommended that you soak them for up to an hour before planting. 

Then dig a shallow and wide hole. Hostas don’t have very deep roots. Their roots mostly spread outwards and grow closer to the soil surface.

Thanks to their outward spreading root structure, it’s important that you make the hole wide enough that you don’t have to bend any roots against the side of it when planting. 

Once you have placed the hostas into the hole, gently fan out the roots and fill in the soil, making sure the base of the plant is at ground level. 

Add a generous layer of compost, taking care not to pile it against the stem of the plant. Lastly, give your newly planted hosta a good watering. 

If you would like a set-by-step cheat sheet for the process, check out my guide on how to plant hosta bulbs.

When to Plant Out Hostas

Hostas are best planted in early spring or early autumn. Keep newly-planted hostas well-watered, especially if they’re planted in the spring.

Hosta Plant - Variegated

Mulching Tips For Hostas

One of the best gardening tips for hostas is to keep them nicely mulched. Hostas like moist soils, and mulching helps to prevent soil evaporation. It also mimics the debris that is naturally found on forest floors, provides an ongoing source of nutrition, and encourages the proliferation of beneficial soil microbes. 

That said, when mulching hosta plants, make sure you aren’t packing the mulching up against the plant stems. If you do, this can trigger mold and other issues in the stems. 

Hostas Outdoors vs Indoor Hosta Plants

If you love having plants in your indoor spaces, then you’ll be happy to know what growing hostas is possible indoors. Now that you know how to care for hostas outdoors, let’s take a quick look at what it takes to make them happy as indoor plants. 

Because hostas can tolerate low light conditions, this makes them relatively well suited for indoor living. What’s more, forest floors typically don’t get a lot of air movement, making hosta plants more likely to thrive indoors than species that are adapted to lots of air movement. 

If you are wondering how to grow hostas indoors, the answer is very similar to growing hostas outdoors. 

Just make sure you pick a spot with the right amount of light and select a pot that is wide enough for the roots of your hosta plants. 

Caring for hostas indoors isn’t hard, so give it a try if you feel like seeing that lush foliage gracing your living space. 

Caring For Hostas: It’s Easy And Rewarding

As you can see caring for hostas isn’t that hard. What’s more, they can be incredibly rewarding plants. Once they get going, their lush and large leaves make a statement. Whether you plant them in the garden or as indoor foliage, one or two healthy-looking hosta plants are bound to catch the eye. 

Are you new to gardening and plant care? If so, one of the best ways to learn is by investing in a good gardening book for beginners. 

I recently bought and reviewed a fantastic book for beginner gardeners that I couldn’t wait to share. Check out my in-depth review of Growing Plants and Flowers, by Sean & Allison McManus if you’re interested in adding a go-to gardening book to your library.

Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (

Recent Posts