How to Divide Hostas for More Landscaping Foliage (Free!)



Hostas are commonplace in gardens and landscaping in North America. They require little maintenance and are suitable for partial sunlight conditions. Although hostas do not produce the showy flowers common to other favorite garden perennials like roses and hydrangeas, hostas come in a wide variety of colors. Their striking leaves provide a tropical ambience without the demanding requirements.

Hostas can grow just about anywhere, whether it’s in Montreal, where winters get very cold, or in the southern United States. You can also divide the hostas to propagate new plants for a lush effect under the trees – no need to visit your local nursery to purchase new hosta plants.

Here’s how to divide them.

Tools and materials

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Be sure to put on gardening gloves before you start. These protect the hands from potential irritants. And you can avoid getting your nails dirty.

The ideal time to divide hostas is in early spring or fall. In the spring, watch for hostas as they begin to emerge from the ground. Now is the time to start separating. In the fall, wait until the weather is cool and humid to begin the process, while still giving the plants plenty of time to establish themselves before winter sets in.

Hostas perform best when divided every 3-5 years or so, but the timing depends on the cultivar. It is essential to wait until a plant has reached maturity before splitting as the process slows down growth considerably. Some large varieties of hostas, for example, can take at least 5 years to reach maturity.

how to divide the hostas - water the hostas


STEP 1: Water the hostas thoroughly the day before you intend to divide them.

Unless there is a lot of rain in the forecast, plan to water your hostas the night before to divide them. Hostas are thirsty plants, so making sure they are watered well before splitting them avoids undue stress. It also means that the newly separated plants stay on track to thrive from the start. And don’t worry, too much water is rarely a problem with hostas. Keep in mind that water is even more critical for hostas planted in full sun.

STEP 2: Using a shovel as a lever, dig around the roots and lift the plant out of the ground.

To dig up split hostas, use a shovel or shovel. The tool required depends on the size of the plant. Large plants with an extensive root system can take a lot of effort to uproot, so much so that a spade won’t do.

Avoid stabbing into the ground randomly. This could damage the roots of the plant. Instead, gently press the spade or shovel into the soil, making sure to dig around and just outside the roots. Use the gardening tool as a lever to lift the entire hosta plant off the ground.

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how to divide hostas - dig up hosta


STEP 3: Try to cut as few roots as possible to make the splitting process more efficient.

The roots of the plant can grow quite deep, so lifting the plant from the ground may break some of the roots. Try to dig as deep as possible. Dig around the plant to avoid removing too much of the root system. Cutting too many roots can stress the existing plant and weaken newly split plants. Don’t rush the process. Paying attention now will save you from disappointment later.

STEP 4: Detach the roots and separate the plant into sections.

Once you’ve got the whole root ball out of the ground, you can start splitting the plant. Shake off excess dirt to make it easier to see what you are working with. The pieces can come apart easily, but some plants require the use of a sharp knife.

Separate or cut the plant into two or three clumps. Do not try to separate the plant into several mini sections. Dividing the hosta into two or three increases the chances of survival of the new plants. After splitting, remove any dead leaves before repotting or replanting the divisions.

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how to divide hostas - plant divided hostas in the garden


STEP 5: Repot any divisions you plan to share or plant them in the ground.

After separating the hosta, take the split sections and plant them in the ground or in a container. Place them at the same depth as before. Make sure the plants are given plenty of water so that they can establish their roots quickly. You can also share separate hostas with your family or friends. If you plan to share them soon after digging them up, wrap them in damp newspaper. Otherwise, pot the new hostas until it is time to grow the plants.

This method of dividing hostas is simple, reliable, and a great way to get free plants for your garden.


Terri S. Tomasini