Watering hostas can be tricky to get right. These plants love moisture but die in waterlogged soil. Let’s talk about the secret to watering hostas.
Large hostas or those grown in sun should receive 1.5-2” of water each week. Smaller varieties will need just 1” of water, as will those grown in shade.
Watering will also depend on the climate. Hostas planted in hot conditions need watered daily, and potted hostas need more frequent watering.
In this article, we’ll discuss how and when to water your hostas in more detail.
Water Requirements for Hostas
Hostas need 1.5-2” of water every week when grown in the sun, and 1” when grown in the shade. Keep in mind that these plants receive a ton of rainfall in their native environment, and we want to replicate that to the best of our abilities.
We often grow shaded hostas under trees. If this is the case, keep in mind that the tree may absorb the moisture before the hosta. Increase watering to make up for this.
In some environments, rainfall through the spring, fall, and even summer months may be sufficient for your hosta garden. However, you’ll likely water them at least once weekly.
Although these plants can survive drought once established, they don’t always do so gracefully. For healthy and beautiful plants, make sure that they get even watering and the soil stays moist (not wet).
Pull back on watering in the fall as the plant begins to go into dormancy. Do not water in freezing conditions. In most cases, your hostas should need no water in the winter months.
In warmer climates, you might need to water more often.
When to Water Your Hostas
When to water your hostas depends on how and where they are planted. For example, those with fast-draining soil will need to be watered more often than moisture-retaining soil topped with mulch.
Hostas grown in the shade need less water than those grown in the sun. In warmer climates, hostas need more water to avoid drooping or poor appearance.
It’s best to water your hostas in the morning, as this gives the soil time to dry in the sunshine. If the top of the soil is wet throughout the night, you’re more likely to get garden pests such as slugs, which hostas are already prone to.
Should You Water Hostas Every Day?
Most gardeners don’t need to water hostas every single day. Exceptions include hostas grown in pots, hot climates, or soil that dries out quickly.
Larger hostas need more water, and may require daily watering in hot, dry summer conditions.
An easy way to tell if your hosta needs water is to push your finger into the soil. If your finger comes out dry, it’s time to water.
Hostas like their soil to be evenly moist. However, you shouldn’t leave the surface of the soil wet overnight if it can be helped. This can attract pests, such as slugs and snails, to your garden.
Also avoid inconsistent watering, as hostas prefer even moisture levels to being completely dried out and then soaked.
How Often to Water Hostas in Sun?
Hostas planted in the ground may need to be watered multiple times a week when in a sunny spot, while potted hostas will benefit from daily watering.
When it gets hot, you may find yourself watering large hostas every day even if they’re planted in the ground.
Be sure to give your hostas a good, deep soak. Let the water seep into the ground before re-wetting the soil.
This will promote healthy root growth, which will help the plant stay healthy during times of drought and through cold winter months, when the plant depends solely on the root system to survive.
Interestingly, hostas are often seen as a shade-loving plant. However, it really depends upon the variety and your climate.
Some varieties do better in the sun than others, with colorful varieties wanting more light than plain green ones.
Variegated varieties will often show better coloration when grown in sunny locations. Just ensure that you’re supplying more water along with the extra sun, or your hosta’s leaves will burn.
In hot, dry climates, hostas prefer shade to guard them from the harsh sun.
Water Droplets on Hosta Leaves
Outdoors, water on foliage doesn’t damage plants like hostas. This is because it evaporates before it could cause rotting or other damage.
Exceptions include hard water, which will stain the leaves of your hostas.
If you’re concerned about your hostas, you can get a soaker hose to leave in the garden bed. This will soak only the soil, and can also be an easier way to water than a watering can.
Over Watering – Can You Water Hostas Too Much?
You can water hostas too much. Even more likely is that they’re placed in a soil that retains too much moisture.
While hostas like their soil to be evenly moist, they don’t like standing water. If left in soggy soil for too long, they’re likely to succumb to root rot, which will kill the plant.
Be sure to use an organic, well-draining mix and never leave the area around your hostas flooded or muddy.
Symptoms of under watered hostas include:
- Droopy leaves
- Stunted growth
- Brown leaf edges
- The plant doesn’t flower
- Dry, dying leaves
Watering Hostas after Planting
If you’ve just recently purchased your hosta, you may wonder how often to water newly planted hostas. The following information is also applicable when moving hostas to a new location in the garden.
Directly after planting, give your hosta a deep watering to help the soil settle in around the roots and close any air pockets.
It’s important to avoid droughts in the following weeks as the hosta adapts to its new environment and the roots establish themselves in the new soil. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times.
Watering Hostas in Pots
Water your hostas in pots more frequently than those grown in the ground, as their soil dries out faster. In the summer months, this will probably mean a deep watering once a day. In cooler conditions, scale back watering to around every 3 days.
Before watering, poke your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, then the plant needs water. If it’s still wet, you can wait for another day.
Always make sure that you use potting mix in pots, as garden soil likely won’t provide adequate drainage for a potted plant. Also, choose a pot with at least one drainage hole at the bottom so that no standing water is left in the pot.
Watering Hostas: Mitigating Factors
When mulching, be sure to leave some space between the mulch and the hosta’s stems. Wet materials touching the stems could lead to rot.
Use at least a half-gallon to water your hostas in sandy soil every three days. Larger hostas or those grown in the sun will need more water, more often.
Clay soils are difficult to grow in, and we recommend instead building a raised garden bed so that you can choose your own soil to match your hosta’s needs.
You can amend your clay soil with drainage materials, though this is much more work, as digging into this soil can be difficult.
When working with any poorly draining soil, be careful not to over water. The soil should be kept moist, but not a muddy consistency.
Mulch can help retain moisture, reduce weeds, and keep certain pests from your garden. It’s highly recommended that you use mulch for your hosta bed, especially if you’re using a sandy soil mix.
1-2 inches of mulch surrounding your hostas should work to hold in moisture in the soil, while still allowing your hostas to breathe. Remember that plant roots need air to survive.
Too much mulch can suffocate your hostas or hold in too much water, causing them to drown.
Last, leave a ring around your hosta’s stems, as wet mulch touching the stems can lead to rot.
If you receive a lot of natural rainfall, you’ll have to water your hostas less often.
With large, potted, or sun-loving hostas, even an inch of rainfall weekly isn’t enough on its own. However, you will want to keep rainfall in mind and give your hostas less water accordingly.
How to Water Hostas
Hand Watering with a Hose
Hand watering your hostas with a hose takes the most time and effort, but you can aim the water directly at the base of the plant.
This process also allows you to wait while the soil absorbs the moisture, then water more. This way, there is no runoff and every drop of water is targeted straight to your hosta’s root system.
Watering with a hose is great for a precise, deep watering, but it has its drawbacks.
For instance, hostas like to be watered evenly. It’s more difficult to get on a regular schedule if you’re watering by hand, as opposed to watering with an automated system.
Using a Sprinkler
Using a sprinkler is a more hands-off way to water your hostas. It’s especially helpful to use sprinklers if you have sizeable gardens and not enough time or energy to water every hosta in your collection.
If you have a busy morning schedule, you can put your sprinklers on a timer so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to water your hostas.
This keeps your watering schedule very consistent, which will benefit your hostas greatly.
With a Drip or Micro Irrigation System
Irrigation systems are probably the best and easiest way to water hostas, although it, of course, depends on your preferences.
Irrigation systems are a hands-off method that allows you to deeply and consistently water your hosta garden.
You can schedule your watering for a specific time and control the flow of the water to the plants so that the soil is evenly saturated. This will promote healthy root growth.
Drip emitters and micro sprinklers do plug up. Check to see that your system works frequently.
Does Epsom salt help hostas?
Epsom salt helps hostas if the soil has a magnesium deficiency. Otherwise, it is unneeded.
Can I water my hostas in the evening?
It’s best not to water your hostas in the evening unless they desperately need a drink. Soil dries slower at this time of day, and when the surface is left wet overnight, you’re more likely to attract garden pests such as slugs.
Do hostas growing under trees need more frequent watering?
Yes, hostas growing under trees need more frequent watering. This is because the tree is also taking in moisture, sometimes leaving very little for the hostas.
The secret to watering hostas is to choose the right soil, then to water deeply and often. This advice should make your hostas flourish.
Here’s to hostas that are bigger, brighter, and healthier than ever!