The Q&A Archives: hostas in shade

Question: Can hostas grow well in complete shade? I transplanted some from a very sunny location (that will be under a deck in the near future) to an area that never gets direct sun. They do not look as good as they did last year. Is it the shade? Do they need lots of water?

Answer: Hostas do great in shade and in fact most varieties of hosta prefer it. Keep in mind that transplanting can set them back a bit while they reestablish and become fully rooted; a very early spring move is the least disruptive assuming you take all of the root system with the plant. If you moved them in summer, they will be slow this year. Also, infertile soil can slow them down. And, most important, dry soil will absolutely slow their growth (as will competition with tree roots.)

If your plants seem slow to reestablish, keep them mulched with an organic mulch year round, it should be two to three inches thick. Also water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge -- use your finger to dig into the soil, if it is still damp do not water yet. When you water, water slowly and deeply and thoroughly so it soaks down to the deeper roots.

Next spring, top dress with a good quality compost and apply a slow release or granular fertilizer with an analysis of 10-10-10 or similar per the label directions. Enjoy your hostas!

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