There are very few perennials in the garden that I neglect due to their hardiness, hostas being one of them. Since all of my hostas are located in shady areas of the garden, I don’t usually bother to feed them with the exception of annual applications of composted manure. Not too long after the full growth of my hostas do I get envious of neighbors who seemingly are able to grow the fullest and largest plants. It seems my hostas could use a little more attention from me concerning their diet.
I am particular on how I feed my garden, keeping in mind that organic fertilizers are easier on the environment. So I have created a ‘hosta’ fertilizer for good strong foliar growth and overall health of these plants.
Hosta Nutrient Mix
4 parts all-purpose organic granular fertilizer 4-3-3
1 part blood meal 12-0-0
1 part bone meal 0-10-0
¼ part Epsom salts [for magnesium]
Added to the basic fertilizer is more nitrogen for good foliar growth and phosphorous for added root development. The last ingredient is Epsom salts which contains magnesium to give hosta foliage more radiant color and a nutrient they like. Ever see hosta leaves turning yellow? They require magnesium. If you experience this sprinkle some Epsom salts around the plants and watch them turn back to a their healthy color.
I apply around two tablespoons of this mix around smaller hostas and up to a cup for larger ones. With the added annual supply of composted manure, hostas should grow with vigor and look splendid all season that is if they are planted in a good location, dappled shade.
A little tip I learned a few years back about hostas, if you don’t care so much for the flower stalks, then snip them off as they rise above the leaves. This will re-direct the energy towards root growth. To date, the only hosta I ever did this with, was a large cultivar called ‘elegans.’ I didn’t want the flowers to interfere with the silhouette of the garden I was going for. As it turns out, the time came to move this hosta and to my amazement the root system was extensive. I have transplanted many hostas and this was the only one that had a root system that large.
Hostas should be fertilized once new growth has started in the spring and again mid-season, usually around July. The only exception, I think, is for the hosta ‘Empress Wu.’ This cultivar should be fertilized three times a season and kept moist, but not soggy.