too late to split hostas?

growlove(zone4 Ia.)September 30, 2013

I had hoped to split and pot up some hostas, but wondering if it is not a good time. The weather man says a light frost is coming this week end. Am is zone 4 so should have a few weeks before hard freeze.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

as i just said in the hosta forum.. in the last week or two..

yes it is.. IN GROUND FREEZE areas ... IF!!! ... you are dividing small ...

its all about whether they will pop out of the ground in the middle of winter ...

if you are just hacking a giant plant into a couple giant pieces.. it will hold itself in the ground ......

but lets be real.. inside two weeks.. they will be fully dormant.. and there will be no root growth to hold them in the ground ...

this is very zone specific to ground freeze zones ....

should you wish to be hosta enabled.. come on over.. its one of the most active forums at GW ...


    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 6:11PM
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I'd have to second Ken's remarks. I grow a few dozen designer hostas and have only ever divided them in mid- to late-spring. All the divisions wilted for a week or so until they got their roots established but as Ken pointed out, it's a bit late for them to be able to do that. This late in the growing season they're in the process of going dormant rather than putting on a growth spurt.

Keep in mind anything in a container needs to be hardy to at least two zones colder than its range in order to survive winter above ground. According to my notes, hosta is hardy to Z3 so that's another check mark in the 'don't do it now' column.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:52PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I think it's fine. The plants still have a good 6-8 weeks to put out good root growth, the soil is nice and warm and cozy this time of year. Nothing to worry about until the *ground* freezes at least a few inches down, and a frost is not a freeze, nor is a freeze the same thing as the ground being frozen. I say have at it.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:45PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Hmmmm. So you're saying I should get the bags of hostas that have been lying on the ground for the past two weeks into the ground? In my limited hosta experience, you can't kill them if you try. I've dug them up and thrown them on a pile of spent perennials in the fall, and find them sprouting in the spring with their roots practically bare to the elements. Of course, these are not rare or unusual varieties, but excess from a friend's mother's yard.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:50PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

root growth was over a month ago ...

its all about soil settlement .. and being able to hold themselves in the ground ... or in a pot ....

there are quite a few pot specialists in the hosta forum ...

with 1500 odd hosta and 20 years experience.. i never heard to the two zone rule above.. and there are hundreds of posts on wintering over pots ... nor .. as i think of it.. am i aware of any hosta with a different zone ... they are all the same .... even the claimed FL one ...

come over and be enabled.... your life will change ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:16AM
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Have to agree with Martha and mxk3. Just split a Francis William with an axe and a sledgehammer last night and lined the property on one side with the divisions. Mulch them up if you are anxious about doing it, but do it just the same. I've had root-exposed-forgotten-divisions survive winters in the past. Tough cookies!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 12:25PM
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If I had expensive hostas I was really afraid of losing (ha - maybe they're like dogs, and can sense fear?), I might wait until spring. But I've been moving and dividing and don't plan to stop anytime soon. I'm even waiting for my Libertys in front to turn brown so I can move a few divisions in back.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 4:42PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Well of course roots were growing a month ago...and they still are.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:48PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Agree with Martha and the others who say you can kill them with a stick!!.....I have done the same......threw out a hosta in the spring....sat on compost pile all summer and decided to re plant is thriving to this day!
If frost heaves it out over the winter, just push it back down next spring.....

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 12:26AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

as i said.. the OP did not define how small they wanted to divide ...

small plants ... and i mean small .. tiny parts ...division down to single pips .... will pop right out of the ground.. and freeze dry .. like chicken left in the freezer too long.. long before you ever find them to stick back in the ground ...

but i do agree.. if you are using the ax/sledgehammer routine ... as i said.. the parts will be big enough to anchor them in the ground ...

mx.. seriously.. you messin with me .... you have seen my collection of 1600 different hosta.. and you are going to argue their proclivity with me.. lol .. i think you are messin with my head .. lol .. and that is fine.. i am sure you owe me some payback .. lol ...

its all about your native soil.. and how it settles.. before ground freeze ... frost heave is a very regional issue ....


    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 7:53AM
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I've dug them up and thrown them on a pile of spent perennials in the fall, and find them sprouting in the spring with their roots practically bare to the elements.

This exactly happened to me last fall. I dug up a hosta for which I had multiple copies and at that time I had no one to give it to. Feeling a bit bad I tossed it over the fence into an overgrown area of the public park. And early this summer I stumbled upon it, roots above ground and foliage looking wonderful.

I have no qualms moving and planting anytime in October (and often into November) and I am a zone 4.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 8:32AM
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OP is in Z4. I'm 2 zones warmer and when I divide perennials, even designer hostas, my goal is to ensure the highest survival rate possible. Have hostas self-seeded in my zone and thrived? Some have, altho' not prolifically. Have they been hybrid cultivars? In the absence of tissue cultures I can't say for certain.

It's been my experience the most successful method of propagating hosta cultivars is via division. I've often given away a dozen or more divisions of named varieties in a single season.

Are they hardy perennials? You betcha. I can't think of another so tough & persistent (other than invasive weeds). If you can sustain the loss of them if they don't survive, go ahead and divide them.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 8:30PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

You know, I've heard about this freeze/thaw cycle which supposedly makes plants pop out of the ground, but I can honestly say I've never experienced it. Maybe it occurs in slightly warmer zones where winter temps fluctuate a lot? Or in zones that never really experience extended bitter cold which seems to turn the ground to concrete and makes it stay that way even if temps do warm for a while? I don't know, just a thought.

Yes, my vote goes to dividing the buggers whenever you want - even now, but that is if you're putting them back in the ground. If you're potting them, I have no idea. I generally like doing my plant dividing in late August or so, but with Hostas, it just doesn't seem to make any difference.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 10:24PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

People can argue until the cows come home. The new hostas have a hard time surviving the best care.

If you run truck over one of Grandma's old hostas you cannot kill it. Make no mistake you can kill a hosta.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 2:14PM
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jackie_o(zone 5/6)

I've never had a hosta heave out of the soil, but I've had plenty of heucheras do it.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 7:23PM
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