Jonathan Hogarth’s Hosta Care Guide for Summer and Autumn

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

Jonathan Hogarth holds a National Collection of Miniature Hostas, he also runs a specialist Hosta nursery – Hogarth Hostas, selling a super range of miniature sized Hosta cultivars – plants that will remain small, even as fully grown, mature specimens.  Hogarth Hostas offer many of the latest Hosta introductions, which are sold via mail order, from Jonathan’s Surrey based nursery, as well as direct to the public, at the shows and events Hogarth Hostas attend.  Jonathan has a passionate interest in Hostas, he simply adores these little plants!

Jonathan Hogarth holds a National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas. Some of Jonathan’s Hosta plants are pictured in this special exhibit that Jonathan created for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

When to re-pot Hostas?

The plants from the National Collection of Miniature Hostas that Jonathan holds are all grown in containers, as Jonathan finds this to be the most successful way to grow his collection of miniature Hostas.  Jonathan advises his customers to re-pot their container grown Hosta plants in July and August.  At this time, in mid to late summer, Jonathan surveys his plants, looking for any Hostas that have roots escaping from the bottom of their planters, these plants are moved aside to be re-potted or divided.  Jonathan checks the remainder of his container grown Hosta plants over, he squeezes his Hostas’ plastic plant pots, looking for containers that are full of roots – any pots that feel tight – to find any Hosta plants that have grown too large for their container – these plants will also be divided or potted into a larger container – one that is just one size up from the plant’s previous pot.  Any of Jonathan’s Hostas that are not divided in late summer, are re-potted into a slightly larger container, again selecting containers that are just one pot size larger than the plant’s previous pot size.

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, pictured on the Hogarth Hostas stand, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

Advice on how to re-pot Hostas

When Jonathan pots up his Hostas, he adds grit to the bottom of his pot, then Jonathan adds his compost blend, (Jonathan’s compost blend he uses for the bottom two thirds of his Hosta containers is comprised of home-made compost, perlite, grit, and sand) to the bottom two thirds of each container, then Jonathan applies osmocote fertiliser over the top third of his container, taking care to keep the fertiliser away from the central crowns of his plants.  Next, Jonathan applies a mulch of Dalefoot Compost’s Lakeland Gold around his Hostas, which covers the osmocote and makes a super mulch for his plants!  When potting up his plants, Jonathan Hogarth takes care not to cover or bury the very crown of his plants with mulch or compost.

Autumn isn’t the time to see Hostas.  Hostas are herbaceous perennials, these fabulous plants shine during May, June, July, August.  Hostas even look good in September, but by October and November, Hostas have had it – the plants are spent and dying back, they’re ready for their winter rest.

Jonathan Hogarth of Hogarth Hostas pictured with his Silver-Gilt Medal winning exhibit of Small and Miniature Hostas, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

Autumn plant care for Hostas

When I saw Jonathan this week, as well asking about his summer plant care, Jonathan also told me about his autumnal Hosta plant care regime!  Here’s one of Jonathan Hogarth’s Hostas pictured this week, this plant is called Hosta ‘Holy Mouse Ears’, it’s a rather lovely sport of Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

Hosta ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ is a cream and green variegated hosta, this cultivar is a sport of Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

This Hosta is looking as good as any Hosta you’ll find during October or November.  Once autumn arrives, Hosta leaves soon dull their shine, before turning a buttery yellow and fading to an inevitable brown, when they often lay discarded on the soil, scattered around the plant they were once a fundamental part of.  I usually leave my Hosta leaves to decompose back in the soil, but Jonathan advises his customers to tidy their plants up and remove the spent leaves once they’ve faded.  Here are some of Jonathan Hogarth’s tips for Hosta success!

Hosta ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ produces lavender coloured flowers in summer, this is a miniature Hosta. Miniature Hostas are lovely, as however large your garden, you can always find room to squeeze in one more miniature Hosta plant!

Leave your Hosta leaves to die back, before removing them in autumn.

This Hosta ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ plant is pictured in November, when its leaves have all died back.

Once your Hosta’s leaves have died back, and your plant looks similar to the plant you see pictured above and below, Jonathan Hogarth advises you to gently remove your plant’s leaves.  Your plant’s leaves should come away easily, using just the gentliest of touches, with no effort whatsoever – if your plant’s leaves are still firmly attached, leave your plant a little while longer and wait for the leaves to finish dying back.

Once you’ve removed your plant’s leaves, you can add your Hosta leaves to your compost heap – they won’t take up more than a thimble-full of room, as Hosta leaves are so thin and papery at this time of year – the leaves will have broken down and vanished before you know it!

Removed Hosta leaves can be added to the compost heap.

In autumn, when your Hostas’ leaves have died back, you can remove the faded leaves from your plants.

Hosta ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ pictured without its autumn coat of leaves. Hostas remain in this leafless dormant state over winter.  During this time, if the plants become too wet, or remain wet or waterlogged, Hostas can be susceptible to rotting.  Water-logging is one of the ways that you could lose your plants over winter, so move container grown Hostas to a sheltered location for a winter rest away from the worst of the winter rain.  You could move your plants to an unheated greenhouse, or move your Hostas near to a garden wall or fence, or another sheltered spot in your garden. If your container grown Hostas are sitting in saucers, make sure you remove their saucers now, as you don’t want your plants to sit in water, over the winter time.

If you leave an upturned terracotta saucer over your potted hosta, it will protect your plant from the worst of the weather. It’s best to use a terracotta saucer, the weight of the terracotta will hold it in place – this plastic one is just for demonstration.

It’s really important that you check over your Hostas (and other plants that you’re growing in containers) and remove any saucers that your pots are sitting on.  One of the ways that you’re most likely to lose a Hosta is from the kiss of death from wet, waterlogged compost over wintertime – allowing your container grown plants to become too wet and then remain wet for too long, yet this situation is very easy to avoid.  Firstly, removing the saucers from under your containers, means that your plants will not sit in water.  Next, it’s vital that you check that all of your container grown Hosta plants are planted into containers that have drainage holes at the base, to allow water to freely escape out of the bottom of their containers and any decorative planters – as Hostas do not want to sit in water!

Jonathan recommends placing an upturned terracotta saucer over your container grown Hosta.  Place a terracotta saucer over the Hosta in its pot, as you see pictured above (We’ve used a plastic saucer as an example, but terracotta saucers being porous work best, the added weight of the terracotta means that these saucers won’t blow away in the wind).  Container grown Hostas can be moved into a cool glasshouse, or close to a wall or fence, under the canopy of a tree, or to another sheltered location, where they will be protected from the worst of the winter rain and can enjoy a winter rest.

Other articles that may interest you………….

You can find more information on how to pot up containers here.

To See Jonathan Hogarth’s display of Hostas at the 2016 RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows, please click here.

To see Jonathan Hogarth’s display of Hostas at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please click here.

To see Jonathan Hogarth’s display of Hostas at the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please click here.

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