Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Divide Hosta Plants - You never need to buy a Hosta again!

Hosta plants are the easiest landscaping plant to grow. They love the shade, come in many different varieties and colors, and are easy to split when they grow large.

If you have Hostas that need to be divided, it is easier than you think. Below are the steps to dividing an overgrown Hosta plant.

#1 Locate the over grown Hosta
Hostas like to be divided at least every few years. You will know they are overgrown when the leaves fall to the outside and leave a large empty space in the middle of them. They also should be divided when they are large enough to hug. Yes hug. When they are large enough for you to grab around them and your finger tips no longer touch, they are probably a little too large.

#2 Gather the tools needed to divide your Hostas
Here are the tools that I personally use. A Garden Fork. These are different than a pitch fork, they have larger, flat tines and are not sharp. And a Sod Cutter. This is the best tool I have ever purchased. It was also the very first garden tool I purchased back in 1996 when we bought our first house. Mine is from the Martha Stewart collection. I remember when I brought it home, my husband said he would never use a Martha Stewart tool, but he now loves it too and can't imagine doing a yard project without it.

#3 Dig up your overgrown Hosta
This is the hardest part of dividing your hostas. You need to take your garden fork and dig it down right next to the base of the hosta and try to start prying it up. You will probably make it a few times around the plant, prying as you go, until it starts to wiggle from it's spot. The larger the plant, the harder and heavier it will be to get out of it's hole. Keep working around with the fork and it will pop up. Because mine was so heavy, I did end up using a small thin shovel to help me pop this one up as it was VERY overgrown.

#4 Divide the Hosta

Now that the hosta is out of the ground, it is time to actually do the dividing of the plant. Now this is sometimes scary to do the first time, but YOU ARE NOT HURTING THE PLANT! Some have referred this to a haircut for a plant. It is actually making it healthier by giving it room to grow again. Look for a natural divide across the plant. Sometimes you can see the line easily, other times you may just look for a place that there isn't much growth. Now take the sod cutter and place it towards one end and firmly step down onto the edge. Once it goes all the way down, wiggle the tool back and forth to break it apart. Now continue with that line across the plant, cutting and wiggling it until you have two plants. Depending on how large your hosta is, divide that new plant into more plants. You need to make sure there is enough root system left to make a healthy plant. I normally just cut mine into four new plants and divide every 3-4 years when they are large again. If yours is very large, divide it into 6 or even 8 plants. You will also notice when digging it out and dividing it, you may be stepping on the leaves and mangling them a little bit. You really don't need to worry to much about this either. They might look a little sad when you go to plant them, but after watering, they will bounce right back.

#5 Planting the new Hostas
Now that you have smaller hosta plants, it is time to plant them in their new homes. They love the shade and under trees or along the north side of your home are great places to transplant them. Dig a large enough hole to fit the rootball, and plop it in the new hole, back fill with dirt, tamp down a little to get out any air pockets, and water well. Yes it is that easy. You should never have to buy a hosta plant again (unless you want a new variety). Just keep dividing them throughout the years and your whole yard will be filled with them. You might just end up with so many that you will notices yourself asking your neighbors if they need any hostas. I have even seen them listed under the free section on Craigslist. Hostas are kind of like the bunnies of the landscaping world...they multiply like crazy!


When should I divide my hostas?
I personally like to divide the hostas in the Spring after they are just starting to open into their full shape. Others like to divide them in the fall so as to have the roots grow back quicker. Just don't divide them in the dead of summer when it is too hot for them to be out of the ground.

When is to late to divide hostas?
You want to make sure if you are dividing them in the fall, that they have at least 4-6 weeks in the ground before the harsh winter and frosts come in. You want them to have a good regrowth before they go dormant for the winter.

Can I plant hostas in the sun?
If you are purchasing hostas form the store, check the handy dandy planting guide. There are some varieties that can handle more sun than others. If you are dividing yours, or getting them from a neighbor, and you have so many you are running out of shady spots, give it a try. Some varieties will like it, others just will not grow as large. You will notice if they don't like the sun that the edges of the leaves will turn brown and look quite unpleasant. That variety might need to be transplanted back into a shadier spot. But if they are free, try it!

Where can I get more information?
I use the University of Minnesota Extension Program for all of my information and also a Minnesota Landscaping book that I purchased many years ago. Obviously if you don't live in Minnesota, check out Extension Programs in your state to get information that is appropriate for your planting zone.

I am sharing this post with all of these lovely bloggers.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I knew this should be done, I just didn't know how. We have so many HUGE hostas, they are going to be so happy when they get divided.

  2. I so need to do this, but i'm scared i'll kill it! ack!

  3. Thanks for the tips - this fellow Minnesotan appreciates it!! I have one Hosta plant that was here when I moved in & am thinking about splitting it up :D Thanks for sharing! Saw you at Someday Crafts!

  4. We're just about to buy a home and this is exactly the practical gardening advice this "brown thumb" needs. I'd love if you'd come share at Inspire Us Thursday for the other garden-challenged out there

  5. Great to if I could just get my chickens to stop EATING my hostas! :)

    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick