The Q&A Archives: Hosta leaves turn bright yellow, then die

Question: I have hostas planted under a maple tree near my cement patio. The hostas appear healthy except the leaves sometimes turn a bright yellow, rusty color and die. What's wrong? Barbara Smith Greencastle, IN

Answer: It sounds like a drainage problem, says Emily McCarthy, horticulturist at Shady Oaks Nursery, specialists in hostas and shade plants in Waseca, MinnesotA. Many times during construction of patios or walkways, adjacent soil gets compacted, making it hard for the hosta's roots and water to penetrate, McCarthy explains. Hostas react to poor drainage by yellowing and dropping their leaves, she says. The best solution would be to dig up the hostas and work a three inch thick layer of peat moss or compost into the area to improve drainage and then replant. You may sever some of the maple tree roots, but the tree should be fine, says McCarthy. You can also plant shallow rooted, stoloniferous type hostas such as Groundmaster and Allen P. McConnell, which grow well in compacted soil and under trees, adds McCarthy.

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