How to Grow Hostas Indoors (and Not Kill Them)

Growing a hosta plant indoors can be a challenge, but they’re perennials that you can grow and keep healthy with the correct soil and environment.

It’s possible to grow a hosta indoors without replanting them, but they’re perennials that need to go through a dormant stage each year to stay healthy and thriving. You’ll need to put them through at least six weeks of dormancy with the temperature at or below 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

I know it took a lot of trial and error on my part to learn how to grow my hosta plants indoors. The last thing I wanted was to work so hard all year and have them die off. I want it to be easier for you, so I’m going to outline the methods I learned that helped me to grow hostas indoors. If you’re curious, take a peek at my guide that tries to answer all your questions about how to grow hostas indoors.

Choosing the Best Hosta Types

There are hundreds of hosta types available, so narrowing the types down and trying to pick out the best ones can take a while. I know I was blown away at the sheer number of hostas available when I first started looking. I chose the hostas with thicker leaves and a more glossy look and feel. I thought these would do better than thin-leaf varieties because they’re hardier and can handle the different environment in the house. If you can find them, start with a few of the following hosta types for your indoor planting adventure:

Suggested Hostas for Growing Indoors

Name

Care Level

Coloring

Height

Spread

Cracker Crumbs

Easy

Lime green with a darker green edge

6 to 8 inches

8 to 12 inches

El Nino

Moderate

Deep smoky blue with white

12 to 15 inches

23 inches

Sunshine Glory

Easy

Cream with chartreuse

24 inches

48 inches

Sum and Substance

Easy

Gold to chartreuse

36 inches

60 inches

Capitol Hill

Moderate

Deep green with lime green edges

15 inches

30 inches

Frosted Mouse Ears

Easy

Blue-green with cream edges

4 to 6 inches

10 to 12 inches

These are just a few types of hostas with glossy leaves that can do well indoors with the correct growing environment. If this is your first time growing them indoors, you should start with a few and slowly expand as you get the hang of keeping them healthy and thriving.

Growing Hostas Indoors – Optimal Conditions

The trick to growing a hosta plant indoors is to get the best growing conditions possible and maintain them. This short table will touch on the important highlights, and then I’ll go more in-depth for you below so you know without a doubt what you can and can’t do with these beautiful perennials to keep them happy and thriving.

Optimal Conditions for Growing Hostas Indoors


Dormancy Period

Six to twelve weeks with temperatures at or below 42F to mimic the winter.

Fertilizer

Slow-release in the spring and early summer before switching to water-soluble fertilizer once a week in the summer. Hostas are heavy feeders.

Hardiness Zone(s)

3 to 9

Light

Partial sun to total shade with indirect light (depends on the cultivar)

Pot/Container

Smaller or dwarf varieties need smaller containers while larger ones need bigger containers to grow. Give your hosta roots room to spread out horizontally.

Soil Requirements

Well-drained, rich commercial soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5

Temperature(s)

Temperature and humidity levels vary from hosta to hosta

Water

Moist but not wet, around one inch per week. Hostas will not tolerate extended drought either.

Now that you have a quick outline of what you’ll need to grow your hosta indoors, I’ll break them all down for you. My goal is to make you confident that you can grow these hostas and have them thrive all year-round inside your house.

Pick Your Container

One of the first things you want to do is pick out your container after you decide which types of hostas you want to grow indoors. A larger hosta species will need a deeper and larger container to sprawl out while a smaller hosta plant can get by a smaller one. An approximate size guide is as follows:

Mature Sizes for Hostas


Size

Height

Spread

Miniature

Less than six inches

6 to 12 inches

Small

10 to 15 inches

12 to 15 inches

Medium

15 to 18 inches

15 to 24 inches

Large

18 to 24 inches

24 to 30 inches

Giant

Bigger than 24 inches

Bigger than 30 inches

For a mature hosta, your container should equal the width or spread of the foliage. Hostas planted from bare root starts or small containers may need to be potted in a smaller container for the first year. A good rule of thumb to follow is to use a pot two inches larger than the root ball of the plant being potted for smaller growing plants and about three inches larger for the larger growing plants in the table.  

Once you settle on a size, you can buy the appropriate container. You want to fill the container at least two thirds full with your rich potting soil before placing the hosta into it. Next, backfill the container with more potting soil until it covers your hosta plant’s roots. Don’t pack the soil in around the roots. Right after you get your soil in, give your hosta a good watering. For this first time, you’ll water the hosta until the water runs out of the drainage holes along the bottom.

Soil Requirements

The trick to growing hostas indoors is to start with the correct soil type. Generally, outdoor hostas like loamy soil that’s rich enough that you don’t have to add anything to it because it’s rich. Indoors, you want to get a rich and well-draining potting soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5 for optimal growth. This is a neutral or slightly acidic soil. Buy the best potting soil you can find, this alone can save you a great deal of frustration.

When you first plant the hosta in the pot or in the spring after the dormancy period, you’ll want to put a slow-release fertilizer into the pot. Another thing you can do is mix compost into the pot in the spring because this will give your plants a boost and encourage healthy growth.

Applying Fertilizer

Gold-leafed hostas do particularly well from a deep fertilization once a year. In the spring, apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer such as 10-10-10. After that, you can apply a water-soluble fertilizer once a week.

Watering Your Hostas

Watering can be tricky when you first start growing hostas indoors because too much water can lead to root rot while too little can cause damage too. You have to keep the soil lightly moist, but it shouldn’t be too wet. This is especially important in the beginning. Once your hostas establish themselves, they’re slightly more forgiving and they can have small periods of dry soil without damage.

Ideally, you’ll give your hostas around an inch of water a week. This is enough to get the soil slightly wet without the plant standing in water. Water the plant near the base underneath the leaves. If you don’t and you water overhead, it can attract bugs into your home. To see if your plant needs watering stick your finger into the soil if it is damp and cool an inch or so down there is no need to water. If you have ceramic pots, you’ll have to water your hostas more because the ceramic can suck up the water.

Sunlight

How much and the type of sunlight your hosta gets will depend on the species. Some hostas like a lot of light while others prefer deep shade. Either way, you want to avoid putting your hosta anywhere that it’ll get hot, direct sunlight because this can burn the leaves. It does this because sunlight breaks down the chlorophyll in the leaves, and it does it so fast that the hosta can’t replace it.

You’ll pick a location that doesn’t get direct light, and it should also stay cool during the day. They can get a very brief period of direct sunlight in the early morning hours, but no more. This time will help bring out the yellow hues in the leaves. But, they should get dappled sunlight for at least three or four hours.

Humidity and Temperature

One nice thing about hostas is that they aren’t fussy about their temperature or humidity levels. This is really nice if you’re like me and have areas in your house that get very hot during the day before dropping off at night. They can grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9 without a problem. However, you do want to plant them in a location without any strong winds. This isn’t a huge issue in the house, but it’s still something to think about if you move your hostas outside in the summer and back indoors in the cooler months.

Repotting Your Hostas

Hostas can grow at a quick rate, especially if you find the best growing conditions. You’ll eventually repot your hostas into larger containers, and this usually happens every two or three years. This gives the roots more room to grow. Get a container that is two or three inches bigger in diameter if you don’t want to split the plant. However, splitting the hosta is generally a good idea for the plant’s health. I like to do this to get several smaller hosta plants to set around the house.

You will need a sharp pair of scissors to slice through the roots of the hosta and shake the dirt off. You have to detangle the roots and give your hostas fresh soil and fertilizer when you do this, and it’s best to do it in the spring. Make sure your new pot is big enough for the roots to extend straight down.

Making Your Hostas Go Dormant

Hostas are perennials, and they need a dormancy period each year to rest before they sprout again and come back fuller and thicker. For your hosta to go dormant, you’ll need to put them in a cool and dark area where the temperature is around 42°F. Leave your plant in this cool and dark room for six weeks. If you store the plant where it is freezing it should stay below freezing. You want to avoid a series of freezing and thawing cycles.

During this time, you may notice that your hosta’s leaves drop off. This is 100% normal. I know it scared me the first time I saw it. I thought my hosta was dying but it came back wonderfully in the spring. You can add a thin layer of organic mulch or shredded back to the top of the pot to protect the roots from the cooler temperatures.

Once a month, if the soil is not frozen, go in and check your hostas for water the same way as described above. They should never be 100% dry. After the proper amount of time has passed, take your hosta back out to its normal location. If the plant is root bound now is the time to repot or split it.

Six Do’s and Don’ts for Growing Hosta Indoors

Now that I’ve given you a good outline on how for growing hostas indoors, I’ll let you in on a few quick tips on what you should and shouldn’t do to ensure your hostas thrive.

Tip One: DO put your hosta in a semi-shaded spot

Hostas can’t tolerate heat well. This can lead to wilting and drying, and your hosta leaves can turn brown if they get too much direct heat and light. If you notice this happening, slide your hostas somewhere that they’re out of the direct sunlight and heat.

Tip Two: DO take care when you water your plants

Getting water on the leaves or stem of your hosta encourages diseases and illnesses, and it can also encourage bugs like snails or slugs to find your plants. This is why you want to water right at the base under the leaves.

Tip Three: DO consider using a top quality potting soil

Good potting soil is not cheap, however, it can save you from frustration and possibly losing your plant. Good Potting soil will hold the proper amount of water without drying out quickly like the cheap potting mixes. Good mixes will have the ability to bind with fertilizer, keeping it more available for the plant instead of simply running out of the bottom of the pot.     

Tip Four: DON’T put your hostas under incandescent light bulbs

The heat given off by incandescent light bulbs can cause your hosta’s leaves to dry out and wilt. You should keep them away from these types of light if at all possible or limit their exposure. This will help to keep your hostas as healthy as possible.

Tip Five: DON’T let the roots choke the plant

Hosta roots grow out horizontally instead of vertically, and this is where you can run into a lot of problems with them becoming root bound. To prevent this, make sure you repot the hostas when you notice the sides and bottom of the container packed with roots.

Tip Six: DON’T skip the dormancy period

Yes, it can seem counterproductive to skip the dormancy period with your hosta. However, they need this time to regroup. How long your dormancy period lasts depends on you. At the minimum, it should be six weeks, but it can go up to 12 weeks to mimic your area’s winter months. Skipping the dormancy period will cause your plant to dwindle way.

Video – How to Grow Hostas Indoors

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hostas good indoor plants?

Yes. With the proper care and environment, a hosta can create a beautiful, lush, and large houseplant that is easy to maintain. They don’t need direct light, they’re not picky about humidity and temperatures, and they can grow well in containers.

How long do hostas last?

Since hostas are perennials, they can come back bigger and better year after year with proper care. It’s not unheard of for hostas to live for more than 30 years, especially if they get partial shade, enough water, and indirect sunlight.

Are hostas poisonous to dogs and cats?

Yes. All parts of hostas are poisonous to cats and dogs. If you have indoor pets and indoor hostas, make sure they’re in an area where your pets can’t get to them and accidentally eat them. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea if your pet ingests them.

Do hostas flower?

Yes. Many species of hostas flower in mid to late summer. The blooms may or may not have a scent, and they come in a huge range of colors from classic white to royal purple. You can remove the blooms without hurting the plant.

What stunts hosta growth?

If you notice that your hostas aren’t as large as you think they should be, a lack of moisture is usually the main culprit. Try watering your hostas a little more and see if they start to grow bigger. If they don’t, give them a boost of fertilizer.

Bottom Line

So, can a hosta live inside? You now know that the answer is yes. With a little patience, the right growing conditions, and effort on your part, you can have a gorgeous houseplant that comes back every year. Try it and see how beautiful these plants look in your home.