Hostas are perennial and hardy plants. Also known as heart leaf lilies or hosta, they inspire with their decorative foliage and flowers from early summer. They are easy to care for. In addition to the right watering, fertilizing and optimal choice of location, cutting can also be useful. There are a number of things to consider, especially when it comes to the how and when.
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Cutting yes or no?
Pruning is not necessary for the optimal care of hostas. On the contrary, because when the foliage becomes unsightly and settles on the ground, it acts as an ideal thermal insulator in the cold winter. However, it is not a pretty sight. If you cut, the right time is important and to provide alternative protection against the cold. Furthermore, a pruning can be useful for the following reasons:
- Size and/or shape correction
- Strengthening of older and weak plants
- Denser and more floriferous growth in the following year
- Heavy pest infestation
If you prune after flowering in August or September, you risk a flowerless following year. After the flowers have withered, the hosta still absorbs plenty of nutrients, collects energy and thus strengthens itself in order to get through the winter well. If the hosta was cut, the nutrient supply would automatically be reduced because fewer parts of the plant need to be cared for.
Only a light topiary can be carried out if the hosta grows too voluminous. With this, only the leaf shoots are cut “in shape” as required. For a better look, it is advisable to limit yourself exclusively to the leaf shoots, which determine the lateral volume. Pruning is always done starting from the lower leaf stalks to achieve an even appearance and as early as possible – preferably in spring before the growing season is imminent.
Cut off faded flowers
While pruning healthy shoots/leaves should be avoided during and just after flowering, wilted flowers should be removed. When dead, they do not stimulate the supply of nutrients, but use them up unnecessarily. As a result, fewer nutrients are available for the living parts of the plant and strengthening for the upcoming winter is made more difficult. Therefore, cutting off faded flowers should always be part of the routine care of the Hosta.
The withered flowers should be cut off with a sharp knife or pruning shears. The cut should be made close to the ground on the flower stalk of the perennial. It is important that they are not pulled out under any circumstances, because the hostas are lifted by the train and the roots can detach as a result.
Removal during flowering may favor flowering duration. After flowering, cutting off dried leaves has a positive effect on overwintering without damage.As with withered flowers, so are dried up leaves. They should be cut off between spring and fall because they are unnecessary nutrient consumers. At the beginning of the season, you can ensure that there are too few nutrients available for flower development. As a result, stunted, withered or rapidly fading flowers form. It is therefore ideal to cut before the start of the new growth period.
Severely dried leaves can usually be peeled off by hand. It is important to ensure that dried leaf stalks are also removed. You should refrain from “jumping”.
Radical cut – best time
The best time for extensive pruning of hostas is autumn around the middle/end of October. Depending on the weather, the recommended time in October shifts. That should be made dependent on how long it stays frost free. Fresh cuttings should be given sufficient time to heal without frost, otherwise the risk of infection increases and the hostas are more susceptible to freezing.
After flowering, a hosta should remain in place for at least four weeks. Since most hosta species finish their flowering period in August at the latest, pruning can usually take place in mid/late September. Hosta plantaginea, for example, blooms well into September. Here the weather should be kept in mind and ideally a cut should not take place until the end of October.
Make a radical cut
A radical cut in autumn can work wonders to ensure that hostas bloom magnificently and grow vigorously in the following year.
The radical pruning strengthens the base of the Hosta because it saves energy and has more nutrients available for the new shoot the following year. Even specimens that are in poor health and old plants that no longer grow luxuriantly get through the winter better and can thrive all the more extensively in the following year.
This is how the radical cut works properly:
- Cut shoots close to the ground
- Leave about two to four centimeters
- Cut off in dry weather
- Cuts make drying easier by avoiding bruises
- Cutting at an angle allows moisture to drain and promotes drying of the wound
- Be sure to use disinfected and sharp cutting tools
- Cover the surface of the soil in the root area thickly with brushwood, bark mulch, straw or leaves (protection against the cold)
A cutting knife works well, as do scissors of the kind used to tend plants. The prerequisite is that there is good sharpness. Unsharp cutting tools quickly lead to bruising of the shoots, which in turn makes wound healing more difficult and increases the risk of infection.
Hygiene is important for a healthy hibernation and thriving in the following year. Viruses, fungi and bacteria are most commonly transmitted through infected cutting tools. You should therefore clean it well before cutting. Spraying/wiping with commercially available disinfectants such as those offered for the kitchen and bathroom is sufficient.