transplantings hostas

Transplanting Hostas: When and How to Do It

Hostas are resilient plants that come in a variety of colors and sizes. They tend to be dense plants that can grow very large, which can be intimidating when it comes to transplanting them. 

However, their hardy nature tends to pull through. Hostas, if transplanted properly, respond very well to being moved. Be sure to have the proper supplies handy. If you are moving a very large plant, some extra help and hands may be necessary. Transplant your hosta in the spring or early fall, when the ground is softer, and be sure to water it well beforehand and afterward. Make sure the new location for your hosta is prepared and filled with proper nutrients. Do all that, and you should have no problem re-locating your plant. Remember, though, that transplanting or dividing your hosta will set it back in maturity. If your goal is a large plant, avoid transplanting your hosta too frequently

Whether you want to move your hosta to give it more space or share it with a neighbor, this plant is easy to transplant, especially once you know how. Please keep reading to learn step by step how to move your hosta and keep it healthy along the way. 

transplanting hostas

Moving Your Hosta

Moving hostas, especially hardy ones, can take some effort. The plants are resilient to transplanting, but it can affect their growth rate down the road. 

The best reason to move your host is to give it more space to grow or in a location where it receives too much sun. If your plant is in a good location with room to grow, think twice before moving it and causing unnecessary stress. This consideration is especially true if your long-term goal is a large, full hosta. If a large hosta is what you are hoping for, transplanting may affect your plant’s ability to grow large, as they grow best when left alone. 

That being said, if transplanting your hosta is best for the health of your plant, there are several things you can do to help the move. Overall, hostas are very hardy to transplanting. They will typically only display their stress through an affected growth cycle. 

Related: How to Grow and Care for Hostas

transplanting hostas

Supplies Needed for Transplanting Hostas

Before you begin transplanting your hosta, be sure to have all the proper tools ready and on hand. Proper supplies include:

  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Fertilizer
  • Gloves 
  • Water
  • Tarp (optional)
  • String (for larger plants) 
  • Pruning shears (if you are dividing your plant) 

For larger plants, it may be necessary to have more involved tools such as ropes to tie the plant back and help pull it out of the ground. You may need to enlist some help, as well. Hostas can grow quite large, and if you are hoping to move a mature plant, additional support may be necessary. 

gardening tools

Best Time to Transplant Hostas

It is best to transplant your Hosta in the spring or fall. Ideally, what you are looking for is whether that is cool and moist. Your plant will need plenty of moisture after it is moved, so it may be helpful to yourself to plant right before you know there will be rain.  Try not to move your plant if it has already begun to bloom. If you must move it after the flowers have started growing, cut them off with pruning shears before proceeding with your transplant. 

Spring Transplanting

Spring is an ideal time to transplant your hosta for a few reasons. The weather is likely to be milder, which is a perk for the person doing the transplanting. 

Additionally, the plant’s metabolism is slower at this time. Of course, your plant is beginning to generate new growth at the beginning of spring. Because of this, it may be difficult for your new plant to get established in time before the growing season begins in the summer. 

If you transplant your hosta in spring, do so after the soil has warmed slightly from the winter months. This warmth will help your hosta roots re-grow after transplanting.

Fall Transplanting 

Some prefer to transplant their hosta in the fall.  Air temperature is cool during the fall, and it is also at the tail end of the growing season. This timing will allow your plant to overcome the stress of transplanting before the winter frost comes.

Additionally, the soil is still warm from the summer months, which is ideal for newly moved hosta roots. If you transplant your hosta in the fall, be aware that the weather may not be as moist as it is during the spring. The plant may need more regular watering from you to help it establish itself. 

Transplanting Hostas in the Middle of Summer

It is best not to transplant hostas in the summer. The air and the soil are dry in the summer, which makes it difficult to move the plant and for the plant to re-establish its roots. The heat of the summer can also cause your hosta to fade. All of this will cause added stress to your plant, and it could damage it long-term. 

Time of Day to Transplant Hostas 

Ideally, it is best to move your hosta early in the morning or evening when the sun is not hottest. The timing of this is especially important if the weather is sunny or dry. 

transplanting hostas

Preparing Your Hosta for Transplanting 

Before you begin to move the original plant, be sure to have the new location for your hosta already prepared. Dig out the new area to be twice as wide and deep as the current root system of your existing plant. Have the new hole completely cleaned out, and sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer into the soil. You can also add compost to add nutrients and encourage drainage. 

If you live in an area with dense soil or poor drainage, add some small stones or broken-up clay pieces to the bottom of the hole to encourage proper drainage. If you are planting a larger hosta or a hosta that has its leaves out, tie the leaves up or prune away branches that are closest to the bottom. Tying the leaves out of the way will help avoid injury when digging the plant out. Water your hosta thoroughly in the days leading up to the transplant to prepare the soil. 

hosta

Transplanting a Hosta 

When you are ready to move your hosta, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Digging up Your Hosta 

When you begin digging, start your hole as far out as where the leaves end. Where the leaves end is typically where the roots extend to in a plant. The goal here is to get as much of the root ball as you can. Make a circle along the edge of the plant’s leaves and begin to work your way down. How far down you will need to go depends on the age of the plant. Some mature hostas can have root systems as deep as 18 inches. Dig carefully and do not move too close to the plant at risk of harming the rhizome. 

Once you a ready to dislodge the hosta from its soil, pull it up to out of the ground. It is helpful to have a tarp or covering of some sort ready to protect the grass from loose soil. Do your best to shake off clumps of soil. Cleaning off the roots helps the plants acclimate to their new environment. It also will make it easier for you when situating the roots in their new environment. If you divide your plant’s, clean roots will also help you see what you’re working with. 

At this point, your hosta is ready to be moved to its new location. However, you also have the option of separating your hosta into multiple plants through division. This step is entirely optional. If you do decide to divide your plant, an added benefit to having a tarp is to help with some of the mess that comes from separating your plant. 

plant

Division

When you divide your hosta plant, sometimes plants will divide naturally. If they divide naturally, you will be able to break them apart with your hands. If they do not separate well by hand, use a spade or a knife to cut through growing extensions. These are parts of the plant growing away from the mother plant. 

Plant your divisions as you would a newly transplanted hosta. Be sure to include compost in its new environment. Place them at the same depth they were growing at before moving, and give them lots of water to help them establish their roots. 

Time Before Transplanting

If you do not move your hosta immediately after digging it up, it is important to keep it in a cool, shaded area. Water it lightly if there are more than a couple of hours between removing the ground and re-planting it into its new hole. The ideal is to get the plant back into the ground as soon as possible. Always aim to do this within, at the very most, the same day you remove the hosta to avoid additional stress to the plant. 

Planting 

If you are moving your plant far away from its current location, or if the plant is large, it is helpful to have a wheelbarrow that can help you move it safely. You can also use the tarp you have laid down to drag the plant to its new location. When you get your plant to its new location, place it in the hole and spread its roots out evenly. Cover them with soil. 

Be sure to plant your hosta at the same depth it was before transplanting and fill up the hole with prepared soil. Mound the soil slightly around the base of the plant to protect it. This extra dirt will settle over time. Place mulch around the base of the plant to help it retain its moisture. When considering where to move your plant to, note that it is always best to plant your hosta in soil with the same pH level that it came from. You can purchase a pH meter in most garden centers or online that will tell you what your soil’s acidity is. 

Water

Water your newly moved plant thoroughly until the ground around it is moist. Water it again after a few hours. And continue to water the plant frequently as it adjusts to its new home. Plenty of water supports the plant in re-establishing itself and overcoming transplantation shock. Do not water if rain falls naturally or if the soil around your plant still looks wet. 

Related: How to Grow and Care for Hostas

transplanting hostas

Growth After Transplanting Hostas

Your hosta will likely have slowed growth the season directly following its move due to the shock of transplanting. This slowed growth should be expected. By the following year, your plant should be fully recovered and as healthy as it was before. 

Related: How to Grow and Care for Hostas

Moving Hostas Without Killing Them

Hostas are very resilient and adaptable to transplanting. To avoid killing them during the transplanting process and reduce the shock of the move, transplant your hostas at the proper time, take care in preserving as much of the root ball as possible, and provide adequate aftercare.

It is rare for hostas to die after transplanting. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the shock of the plant and help it adjust more quickly: 

  • Water it well before and after planting.
  • Take care not to damage the roots.
  • Fertilize the plant.
  • Consider installing a shade umbrella to add extra protection to your new plant after you have transplanted it.

Final Thoughts

Hostas are hardy plants that can adapt to transplanting. To reduce the shock of the move, be sure to plant at the right time and offer proper aftercare to your plant. If you would like to learn more about caring for hostas, read our expert guide here. Do you have questions that we did not cover in this article? Let us know in the comments below. 

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