How to prepare hostas for winter

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if readers purchase products through these links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Hosta is a shade-tolerant perennial native to the far east. Although hostas are low-maintenance plants, they can benefit some preparation to survive the cold months of winter (especially in the coldest climates.

To prepare hostas for winter, start by watering the plants deeply throughout the fall so that the plant is as healthy as possible before winter arrives. Then, once the first hard frost has killed the foliage, cut off the dead leaves at their base and remove them from the garden area. Lastly, gardeners in particularly cold climates or with newly-planted hostas can consider covering the soil with a temporary protective winter mulch over the footprint of the plant after the ground freezes.

In this post, we highlight everything you need to know about winterizing and maintaining hostas. Stick around.

Water your hostas consistently during autumn so the roots have all the water they need to store energy over the dormant season

How to prepare hostas for winter?

Hostas can survive the cold and can even benefit from it if they’re winterized properly. To winterize your hosta plant, you need to give it enough water, remove all dead leaves, and spread a layer of mulch.

1.   Water your hostas

This is the first and most crucial step as it starts way before winter. Hostas typically require more water than average. Dehydration affects hostas greatly, from flowers to roots, making them less capable of dealing with the cold of winter.

During the fall, you should water your hosta plant every week to ensure it has all the water needed to enter dormancy in peak health.

However, you may stop this weekly routine when your hostas become dormant. You’ll still water your plant during the winter, just not as frequently as hosta plants don’t need much water in the winter.

Prepare your hostas for winter

2.   Remove dead leaves from the plant

This step is crucial to get rid of harmful bacteria or fungi. Your hosta is ready for this step when the leaves turn yellowish-brown.

All you need to do then is cut the dead leaves at the bottom with clean shears. This also helps the plant preserve its energy to survive the winter.

3.   Cover hostas with protective temporary winter mulch

Finally, you should cover up your hostas with 3-4 inches of mulch or pine straw.

You should spread this layer of mulch over the hostas to insulate the plant and protect it against the extreme cold of winter.

Mulch also prevents the growth of weeds and evens out the temperature difference that occurs in the winter. This layer should be removed in the spring in order not to suffocate your plant.

5 Tips for helping hostas survive cold winters

Now that you know how to winterize your hosta plants, let’s take a look at some of the tips that can help achieve the best possible winterizing results.

1.   Water your hostas in the winter

Don’t stop watering your hostas altogether during the winter months. Remember that when the temperature falls below 50℉, the hostas depend on their internally stored water for survival.

You should water your hosta at least once a month during the winter months until the ground warms again.


2.   Quit fertilizing in the summer

You should stop fertilizing your hostas in the summer. Otherwise, they’ll continue to grow leaves during the winter. New leaves make the hostas prone to frost damage from flowers to roots.

Moreover, fertilizing your hosta makes it exert its energy in producing new leaves when it should direct its energy towards conserving moisture and nutrients for its winter slumber.

Raindrops on hosta

3.   Balance your hostas water needs with natural precipitation

If it rains or snows regularly at your location, you might not need to water your hostas regularly during the winter slumber.

While watering your plant once a month can be sufficient during the winter, the hostas may get the water naturally through rain and snow.

4.   Remove dead leaves from the garden

You should trim the leaves of your hosta after the first frost before they rot. It can be a great way to get rid of any snails or slugs, which are normally attracted to hostas. It also prevents them from using the hostas as winter nesting locations.

That said, it’s recommended that you compost the leaves you’ve trimmed. This way, you get rid of any potential nesting places for snails or slugs.

Dividing hostas

5.   Divide your hostas

It’s recommended to divide hostas every couple of years in the spring or fall if you’d like additional plants or to control overly large specimens. Dividing the hosta helps you maintain its shape and size, as well as allows you to share your hostas with friends, the local garden club, or neighbors.

It’s also a good way to get rid of the dead parts of your plant, which means keeping only the healthy portions that can survive the cold of winter.

More about winterizing hosta plants

First, before winter comes, you should water the plant on a weekly basis. Second, use your shears to cut the dead foliage at the bottom of your plant. And finally, cover your plant up with a layer of mulch or pine straw to even out the temperature.

This three-step process will keep your hosta plants healthy through the winter so that they can bloom again in the spring.

How to prepare hostas for winter generated pin 40262 1
Pinit fg en round red 32
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.