published Saturday, September 15th, 2012

5 tips for successfully growing hostas

You don't need a green thumb or a lot of sun to grow hostas.

"(They are) one of the easiest perennials to grow in the shade or partial shade," said Tennessee master gardener Michael Payne.

Happy Powell, a businessman and farmer in Athens, Tenn., said hostas are prolific growers that can thrive at the edge of a natural wooded setting. "I like to put them around big trees where other plants will not grow," he said.

They'll reward gardeners with bursts of foliage, color and texture, Payne said. He offers the following tips for growing hostas.

1 The shade of a tree or the north side of your house is a perfect place for hostas. The deeper the shade, the darker the leaves will be. Those with lighter leaves can stand more sun on the outer edges of the tree line. Hostas that receive the most water are generally bigger. The real key is to have a lot of organic material in the soil. Payne said that's why he will "chew up the fall leaves (with a lawnmower) and put (them) right back in the beds."

2 An application of 10-10-10 early in the spring will be all you need to keep them healthy. Most of the time you can just let Mother Nature do the watering, but in times of drought you need to make sure the area gets at least 1 inch of water per week.

3 Slugs can sometimes be a problem. If so, add a little ash from a fireplace, sharp stones or rough-edge materials to keep the slugs at bay. If deer are a problem (they love hosta, especially in drought), add garlic or daffodil bulbs in and around the hosta. Also try adding high-strength fishing line around the area. Deer don't like running into the line and are more likely to avoid the area.

4 The standard practice is to start a hosta garden with a good green color. The Patriot is a great white and green hosta. Sunpower is a good yellow-green and will take a little more sun. Krossa Regal is a blue-green hosta that loves deep shade and will withstand "wet feet."

5 Prepare the hosta bed well using leaves that have been chewed up with a mower. Till the area, then add the plants. With a few azaleas, ferns or native plants, the dull shade area in your yard could become your favorite outdoor space.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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