Customer Experiences Growing Hostas in Warm Climates

Growing hostas in hot climates can be a challenge, but that doesn’t stop many gardeners.  This week, I turned to some of our customers for their experiences doing just that.  Here’s what they had to share:

  • Pamela O’Neill, Yreka, California – zone 8a:

“This is my first year growing hostas so anything that I can offer is from a beginner’s viewpoint.  First, I chose hostas that did well in shade and didn’t need much sun, if any.  I planted my hostas in a ceramic bathtub that was taken out of our recently remodeled bathroom.  The bathtub garden is next to our home and receives 100% shade.  Albeit my experience is limited, I have found that they respond well to the soil kept moist but not drenched and some plant food (I use MiracleGro) about once a month during the summer months.  My hostas are happy, beautiful and provide me much joy as I watch them doing well in their growing environment.

I’ve attached two photos to show you the bathtub garden when it was first planted back in May.  Along with the hostas, I planted bleeding heart plants, a fern and some violas.  As we have lots of deer and wild rabbits, we needed to cage the plants to keep them from being “dinner”.  As I look at these photos, I can’t believe how much the hostas have grown since I planted them!”

  

  • Ellen Benodin, Montgomery, TX – zone 8b

“I planted the hostas this springtime, so this is their first season (“sleep”).  All survive, most are flourishing.  Those few that are in dappled shade are doing best; the few that receive direct sun a small part of the day burned around the edges.  Now that I have shaded them they are recovering.  This fall I plan to move some oleanders to a spot where they will prevent the sunburn permanently and I will be able to remove the shade fabric.  Looking forward to next season (“creep”).  By the way, the heuchera that are interspersed among the hostas are doing equally well.

I forgot to mention that for my TX garden I chose hostas that are resistant/untasty to slugs.  In my various gardens over 40 yrs when I lived in Chicago slugs were a perpetual problem:  the hostas themselves didn’t seem to care, but they looked motheaten.  I can readily agree with your Austin (TX) correspondent(s) that even a short time in full sun here is too brutal for most hostas.”

  • Lois Ann, Sacramento, CA – zone 9b:

“I have a slew of hostas (50, all different) in front of my house in Sacramento. I love them and they are working pretty well. I planted half of the bed two years ago, and the other half one year ago. I also planted Japanese forest grass, which is swell, and heartleaf bergenia, which is getting swallowed up, and allowed the ajuga and wild strawberries to have their way, which covers the ground nicely.

Two or three of my hostas came up tiny this year (Minuteman, Pathfinder) and are not flourishing. I’ll probably pull them out and replace them with ??? The problems I am having:

1) slugs. Or something like slugs that chew holes in them. I use Sluggo, but evidently not religiously enough. May look for a different brand of slug-slayer.

2) It’s hard to tell where the sun is going to shine through the trees so that in some places, even the sun-resistant hostas are burning out on the first hot weekend. I need to move them, possibly filling in where the weak ones are coming out, and planting something besides hostas in those surprisingly sunny spots. I’ll try this in the fall once things cool off.

I’m sending pics from roughly the same spot, spring 2010, 2011, and 2012. This is probably more than you wanted to know.

Love my hostas!”

  

  • Ursula, TX – zone 9:

“I have a blue hosta in a pot on my deck which is mostly shaded all day.  It doesn’t look very healthy with only 2-3 leaves this year.  I feed it with bone meal and water it only when it begins to feel dry.  It came up late this spring which surprised me that it even came up.  I live in southeast Texas near the Gulf of Mexico.”

  • Carol Neubauer, Austin, TX – zone 8b:

“Received Blue Umbrella in perfect condition about May 1st.  It looked great for some 8 weeks with lots of shade and enough water.  The temperature eventually went to 112.

Bugs ate my hosta:  saw a lot of pillbugs (rolypoly) and tiny green caterpillars.
The heuchera are holding on.  Southern Comfort is happier than Shanghai.
Wish I had a better report.  The plants I received were outstanding!”
 —
  • Emre, Sacramento, CA – zone 9b:
“I’m in Sacramento Ca.  My hostas aren’t really growing since planting three weeks ago, but they aren’t dying either.  Hoping fall will help them get started well.”
  • Kevin, Templeton, CA – zone 9a:
“I live in Templeton, Ca. The climate here is hot in the summer, upper 90’s most days, some days over 100. It is relatively dry, I think about 16% relative humidity.Winters are cool. Normal night temps are in the hi teens to twentys.My hostas that are in both pots and the ground do great. I have some that have been in the ground for years. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. They die back in fall and come back out in early spring.”
  • Jori, Simi Valley, CA – zone 9b:

“I live in Simi Valley California, I have 12 giant Hostas that I planted on a hillside under oak trees. They are doing really well, I water every other day, in the evening. I have a dry climate.”

  • Claire Jain, Shreveport LA & Austin TX – both zone 8b
“I’ve grown hostas at my parents’ home in Shreveport, LA, and in my garden in Austin, TX.
In Shreveport, the hostas grow very well in a shade garden alongside hydrangeas. The garden is under some trees where there was never enough sun for the grass to grow. They don’t see much direct sun, it’s mostly dappled light. They get along with rainwater for the most part.
In Austin, growing hostas is all about finding or creating a microclimate in your landscape that will support the plants. My “shade bed” only gets a few hours of direct sun in the summer, but those hours are brutal. The shade bed is the mostly likely place in my yard to be wet or retain any water that comes our way. We amended the clay soil with lots of compost. I water the hostas (and other plants) every 2-4 days in the summer. They are planted by umbrella plants which offer shade to some of the plants.
I intentionally put the lightest-colored hosta in the sunniest location in the shade bed. Some leaves get sunburned every season, but it doesn’t bother me. Pill bugs nibble leaves mostly at the beginning of the season. I may or may not sprinkle DE to deter damage.
I’m including a few pictures of my hostas. Where you see hostas in the sun, know that it’s just about the worst imaginable conditions for them. These few hours in the summer’s afternoon sun are tough, but they handle it very well.”
  

  • Jennie – zone 9

“For west coast growers, zone 9, the hosta may not be a familiar plant.  I had lots of exposure to it back east where it has many wonderful uses.  I have a shady location and decided to try a few different cultivars.  Our lot has many mature trees which I thought gave nearly perfect dappled shade.  Hosta planted last year grew on quite well, but I hadn’t counted on a change in the shade pattern.

I decided to try a shade trellis, photos attached.  This is a temporary expedient, but it reversed the unattractive scorching of leaves, and any that had sun damage have rebounded.  To fill in while the hosta are growing, we planted green coleus, which works nicely as a complement, I think.”

 

  • Mike, Estero, FL – zone 10:

“Since I left Minnesota and Wisconsin 10 years ago, I haven’t purchased any hostas ’cause all of them that I found either in person or online seemed to indicate Zone 8, Zone 9 at the most…and I live in Zone 10.

I have tried a number of other perennials that were classified for Zone 9…they are all in the plant cemetary now ’cause it’s just too damn hot here in Estero, FL 33928.”

  • Tony:
“I have to admit growing Hostas is limited to this year. I apparently have had them without knowing it.  This spring I had this pot in the hothouse that was doing nothing. I was on the verge of tossing it when I noticed some spikes sticking out of the ground. I tested them with my finger (wiggled them) & found them not dead as I expected. I decided to take the pot  out of the hothouse and put under a semi shady tree to see if anything would happen. Well after a couple of weeks out came this Hosta. I instantly ordered a couple more & they are doing well also. The only difficulty I find is getting the right amount of shade & sun for them.
I understand they go to sleep in the winter which is OK I just have to remember which pots they are in.
I have an English garden in my front yard, which costs me a fortune for water but it’s worth it.  Also you may as well know right now I am terrible with names. I don’t know them & don’t write them down. I just enjoy them.”
  • Scott:
“I’m growing mine indoors under grow lights. I have lost two TC’s. There’s Minuteman and Devin Green that are doing well. The Minuteman is putting-up a bloom stalk.
My concerns are what am I going to do about over wintering them when it does not freeze here? What type of cooler do I need to construct to give them 60 days below 40 degrees?”
  • Eastern Texas – zone 8/9:
“I am in East Texas.  For our area the botanical garden in Dallas and Jimmy Turner has the best articles and there is one posted on hostas.  He is studying them now in one of his trial gardens.  I am about 120 miles from that garden and in the piney woods.  Here the best so far are so sweet and gaucamole. I have lots of trees including pines and dappled shade the soil is sandy loam.  So Sweet survilved being planted last year in 70 day heat over 100 with lots of ;humidity.  and i planted in July!!!!”
  • Lee Vanderpool, Ft Walton Beach, FL – zone 9B:

“I grow miniature hostas in small pots which are kept on benches in full sun and get watered every day.  I use them as accent plants for bonsai. I have had very good luck with the eight varieties that I have managed to collect, both green and variegated.  All pots bloomed profusely this year and all are very healthy. Since we do not get hard freezes, they remain on the bench all year with no damage.”

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