How to Plant Hostas

Planting hostas is not difficult, but doing it properly can make all the difference. Are you planting them correctly?

Having a shaded backyard doesn’t mean you’re destined to a landscape that is deprived of foliage and growth. Hostas are perfect for shady spots! These beauties thrive in shadowy places, with stunning foliage in green, blue, yellow, and cream hues. Besides their shade-loving nature, they are also incredibly easy to plant – they are perfect for new gardeners.

Planting hostas is easy to do and requires little more than something to dig a hole with and something to water with once it’s in the ground. It’s best to plant them in the early spring or early fall, and even better if you can do it on an overcast or cloudy day.

Tools You Will Need

Planting hostas is simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t require anything beyond your basic gardening tools. All you need is something to dig a hole with – and your choice of garden tool depends on the size hole you need to dig – and a way to water them when you’re finished.

  • Pointed shovel
  • Hand trowel
  • Watering can or hose


Like dividing, the best time to plant is in early spring at the beginning of the growing season or early fall. During both of these periods, they need less water because of the cooler temperatures. Reduced water uptake takes some pressure off the root system, allowing it to recover from the transplant and establish itself.

Planting in the early spring also gives it time to develop new roots before the hottest part of the summer. Fall planting allows it to grow new roots before it’s hit with cold winter weather and goes dormant for the season.

  • In the early spring, plant once the soil temperature is above 55°F (13°C).
  • In the early fall, plant 4-6 weeks before the first frost.
If your hostas roots are in the soil correctly, it will grow robustly.

How to Plant

The most important parts of planting are digging a large enough hole, putting plants at the proper depth in the ground, and giving them enough space from their neighbors. The actual process is the same as when you transplant other types of vegetation. Once in the ground, they experience little shock and settle in quickly.

  1. Water the flower bed the day before or at least a few hours before transplanting. It’s much easier to dig in moist soil versus a bed that is hard and dry.
  2. Using your shovel or trowel, dig a hole twice the hostas’ width and slightly deeper than the roots.
  3. Tip the container on its side, gently remove it, and be careful not to snap any of the stems.
  4. Use your fingers to loosen the excess soil from around the roots or separate the roots if they were rootbound in the container.
  5. Mound up a small amount of soil at the bottom of the hole, supporting the plant, so the crown sits evenly with the soil surface.
  6. Fan the roots out, filling the space in the bottom of the hole.
  7. Backfill the dirt into the space around the roots, using your hands to tamp it down until the hole is filled.
  8. Water the soil well at the base of the plant to remove air pockets.
Gently place rootball into the hole that you dug


While it’s tempting to group your new transplants close together, it’s essential to follow the recommended spacing listed on the tag. This spacing is based upon the mature size, not the juvenile size. It may look strange at first, but the mature plants will have enough room and not compete with neighboring vegetation for resources.

  • Dwarf varieties: 6 to 8-inches
  • Small varieties: 12 to 18-inches
  • Medium varieties: 18 to 24-inches
  • Large varieties: 30 to 36-inches
Place mulch around the hosta to help encourage optimal growth.


Below are are a few helpful tips for planting. These tips are handy to new gardeners but also serve as good reminders for experienced ones too. If you’re interested in general growing tips, head over to our Comprehensive Hostas Guide for more in-depth information.

  • Clean your garden tools before and after, especially if you’ve recently had any disease or pest problems.
  • Try to work on overcast days if possible, or plant earlier in the morning when it’s cooler.
  • After planting, mulch around the new hostas using leaf mold or bark chips to help keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
  • If you don’t own gardening gloves or don’t like to wear them, scratch your fingernails along a bar of soap before planting. It may feel strange to have the soap under your nails, but it keeps the soil from getting under them.
Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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