How to transplant hostas
Wondering how to transplant hostas? Fortunately, these lovely foliage plants are easy to move to a new location.
Start the process of transplanting a hosta by digging the new planting hole in the future location. This is also a good time to add organic matter and any other soil amendments. Once the planting hole is prepared, dig up the hosta, giving the base a wide berth as you try to leave as many roots intact as possible (unless you’re dividing the hosta as well). Place the soil clump in the new hole and check the soil level at the base of the plant. Water the hosta thoroughly after transplanting.
Now, let’s get into all the details about how to transplant hostas!
How to transplant hostas: the basics
Hostas are one of the easiest perennials to transplant due to their shallow roots and generally low-maintenance nature. That said, these plants can be slow growers (especially in full shade), and transplanting often sets their growth back by a year or two. Try to plant your hostas in their permanent locations and leave them undisturbed if possible, but know that they can certainly be transplanted later on if required.
Sometimes hostas have to be transplanted because they were temporarily planted somewhere else while waiting for a garden bed to be ready to receive them. Others were intended to be left in place, but garden plans changed (as they so often do). Sometimes hostas planted in the shade are all of a sudden in the sun if a large tree falls down, meaning they must be moved to a shadier spot. Lastly, it’s not uncommon for hostas to grow larger than their labels indicate, especially in rainy climates.
Whatever the reason, hostas do require transplanting now and then. You can take the opportunity to divide the hosta into pieces if you’d like to multiply it, or you can transplant the whole clump intact. Transplanting and dividing can be done any time of year, but tend to be most successful when done in spring or late summer/early fall.
How to transplant hostas: steps
Here are detailed steps for transplanting hostas:
- Start by inspecting the new planting area. In terms of sunlight, some dappled morning sunlight is great, preferably followed by shade in the afternoon (especially in hot climates). Hostas grow most quickly in rich, organic soil but are tolerant of clay soil (although they may grow more slowly).
- Remove any existing plants and debris from the entire expected surface area footprint of the mature hosta. Mini hostas may only need a foot-wide circle cleared, while giant hostas will need 5′-6′ wide cleared for optimum soil preparation.
- Prepare the soil in the new planting area for the best results in the new location. Mix in some organic matter such as compost, peat moss, coco coir, or rotted manure. If your existing soil contains quite a bit of clay, you may also wish to mix in a gritty material like sand to help add some porous matter for better drainage. Try to mix these amendments in at least a foot deep for larger hosta varieties, although this can be quite difficult if you have particularly heavy clay soil.
- Dig the new planting hole. The hole should be wide but not too deep. The hosta’s roots are generally wider than the aboveground foliage, so take the current size of the hosta into account when digging the new hole.
- Dig up the hosta from its current location. Dig around the base of the plant, leaving a wide berth if possible from where the stems go into the ground. Try to keep the plant intact, unless it is particularly large or you plan to divide it into pieces. If dividing the plant in addition to transplanting, this is a good time to do so by slicing the crown into pieces.
- Carefully transport the hosta and its soil clump to the new location. Most medium-sized or larger hostas will require a wheelbarrow or garden cart to wheel over to the new location.
- Place the soil clump down into the ground. Check that the transplanted soil around the base of the hosta is at the same level as the soil around the hole. The hosta shouldn’t be planted any deeper than it was in the first hole.
- Backfill the sides of the hole, trying not to leave any large spaces. push soil gently down around the soil clump.
- Water the transplanted hosta thoroughly. The best way to water them is by watering the soil at the base of the plant. You may wish to wash the leaves off if they got dirty during transplanting, but in general, it is best not to wet the foliage when watering hostas. This is a great time to install drip irrigation in your hosta garden.
- Mulch the soil around the base of the hosta with about 2″ of organic matter. Good options for hosta mulch include compost, shredded leaves, pine needles, bark mulch, cocoa shells, or other locally-available organic mulches. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the center of the hosta clump to avoid crown rot.
Hosta care after transplanting
Check that the soil around your transplanted hostas is moist but not soggy. If it is dry, give them another good soaking. Look for any indications of poor drainage like ponded water that doesn’t drain overnight.
You can also fertilize your hostas in the spring and summer after transplanting. Use a nitrogen-rich slow-release fertilizer or a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. Apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, being careful not to get any on the leaves.
Water your hostas as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Hostas are generally quite drought tolerant once they are established, but young plants and newly-transplanted hostas may need more frequent watering.
Be on the lookout for slugs, snails, and other pests that can damage hostas. These pests are attracted to the moisture in the leaves, so be sure to keep the leaves dry if possible. Hand-pick pests off of plants as you see them, or use traps such as beer traps to control populations.