Hosta Myths - Tony's Top Ten

Hosta Myths - Tony's Top Ten

By Published July 22, 2011 Updated April 05, 2022

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Hosta Myth 1 - If you fertilize Hostas they will turn green. 

Reality - We see many consumers that still believe this. Obviously, this was perpetuated when H. 'Undulata' was the prevalent Hosta sold and nurseries didn't understand the process of viridescence. Hostas are actually very heavy feeders.

Hosta Myth 2 - Hostas are very drought tolerant plants.

Reality - Hostas hate dry soils. While they might last though one drought, a continuing drought will result in an irreversible decline and often a dry rot or disintegration of the crown. A Hosta that continues to grow well in what seems like dry soil has actually sent roots deep enough to find extra moisture.

Hosta Myth 3 - Hostas need to be regularly divided like daylilies.

Reality - This myth is probably perpetuated by neighbors who simply want divisions for themselves

Hosta Myth 4 - You can get rid of foliar nematodes by picking off the leaves that show damage.

Reality - I've had several nurserymen try to pass this one off as true. I guess you can convince yourself of anything if you want to believe it bad enough. The fact is that plants can be filled with nematodes and show no visible symptoms. The plants will still spread nematodes to other nearby plants...usually within 3 feet. The display of symptoms is cultivar specific. The only way to be sure that a particular plant is clean is with a nematode test.

Hosta Myth 5 - Hostas can only be divided in spring.

Reality - In fact, many commercial growers perform most of their dividing chores in the summer.

Hosta Myth 6 - Hostas prefer shade.

Reality - While a few wild Hosta species actually grow in shade, the majority prefer some sun. In the wild, most Hosta grow either on rock cliffs or in sunny meadows...often with daylilies.

Hosta Myth 7 - When I have a mutation on a hosta, I should give it a name and introduce it.

Reality - Ideally, Hostas should only be named and introduced if they are an improvement. A green reversion of a variegated Hosta is almost never an improvement. Such introductions serve only to confuse the public and dilute the Hosta trade with junk.

Hosta Myth 8 - The myth of Originator's Stock (OS) as a different or better plant.

Reality - This is a brilliant marketing gimmick, where Hosta vendors have convinced customers that one particular division is worth 10 times another identical looking division. This "con" is based on the premise that the size of knife used to divide the clump somehow makes the clump better or different. Even normally intelligent people buy into this one. It doesn't matter if 100 different people handle or divide the clump. Either the plant being sold is the correct cultivar as named by the introducer or it is not.

Hosta Myth 9 - Tissue culture Hostas are inherently bad.

Reality - Nothing could be further from the truth. Without tissue culture, we would only have a fraction of the cultivars that are available today. Tissue culture is one of the best methods for cleaning up a Hosta with foliar nematodes. Just like with garden divisions, all reverted shoots must be removed and discarded. Obviously there are going to be more reversions in tissue culture, so attention to detail is critical. The bad reputation of tissue culture is due to labs that had poor quality control procedures.

Hosta Myth 10 - I like hostas, so I should start a Hosta nursery and make lots of money.

Reality - This one sounds really good in theory, but if an accountant took a look at the books of most small Hosta nurseries, they would recommend that you instead consider a passbook savings account or an extra job flipping burgers. The profit margins that seem huge to the public simply don't exist...especially now that the days of $200 Hosta introductions are long gone. If a Hosta is grown to a quality size, it will be one of the least profitable perennial crops that you can grow.

Check out all our hostas for sale and our videos below for more tips on how to grow and care for hostas.



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