How To Overwinter Hostas In Pots

Hostas, also known as plantain lilies, are a very popular perennial due to their abundant foliage and versatility. These plants are very low maintenance, so planting them is an easy way to add beauty to your garden. If you have potted hostas in your garden, you may be wondering how to care for them over the winter. We did the research to tell you how.

One way to overwinter potted hostas is to place them in an unheated outside building, such as a garage, during the harshest winter months. If hostas are in large pots, they can simply be left outside during the winter. Or, you can take the hostas out of their pots and plant them in your garden during the winter.  

If you are caring for hostas, there is still a lot of information that you might want to know about the plants. For example, do hostas need to be cut back for the winter? Do they like the sun? We elaborate on these questions and more in this post! Keep reading to learn how you can provide the best care for your hostas. 

Hosta leaves pattern background. Bushes of the Hosta plant in pots for transport in a gardening store, How To Overwinter Hostas In Pots

Can Hostas Survive Winter in Pots?

Decorative green Hosta houseplant with stone pot

The ability of hostas to survive winter in pots depends on the size of the pot and the hardiness of the hostas. If hostas are planted in large pots, they typically have no problem with surviving the winter. This is because large pots hold more soil, which provides the hosta with more warmth throughout the winter. 

Because large pots hold more soil and provide increased insulation, you can leave hostas in large pots outside during the winter. 

Click here to find a large pot for hostas on Amazon.

Conversely, hostas in small pots struggle more during the winter because they do not receive the insulation that hostas in large pots do. So, you should not leave hostas in small pots outside during the winter. Instead, bring them into an unheated outdoor building, like a shed or garage. 

Regarding hardiness, hostas that are at least one zone hardier than the zone you plant them in have greater chances of surviving the winter.

Many hostas thrive in Zones 3-8. So, if you live in Zone 7, you need to ensure that your hosta is hardy to Zones 1-6. If your hosta does not meet the hardiness requirements, it will struggle in the winter.

Do Hostas Need to be Cut Back for Winter? 

Variegated hosta with cream and green leaves in a planter

You can choose not to cut hostas back for the winter. The plant's dead, brown leaves don't directly harm the plant during the winter; they simply make it look less beautiful. However, hostas' dead leaves can attract damaging pests such as snails and slugs. Because of this, it's recommended that you do cut hostas back for winter. 

You should cut your hosta directly after the first frost in your area occurs. This is because the plant's leaves will turn brown after the first frost. In the zones where hostas grow best (Zones 3-8), the first frost occurs anywhere from early to late fall. So, prepare to cut your plant back at any time during this season. 

When cutting back hostas, cut the plant down to about 2 to 3 inches. After cutting the leaves back, place a layer of mulch over hostas in the ground to provide additional warmth. For potted hostas, bury the pot up to its rim in the ground, and then cover the top of the plant with mulch.

Will Hostas Survive a Freeze? 

Yes, hostas can survive a freeze. In fact, hostas thrive in freezing weather, which is what makes them extremely low maintenance. When nightly temperatures reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, hostas become dormant, and this dormant stage helps them survive the winter. Hostas remain dormant until the spring. 

Do Hostas Like The Sun?

Flower pots of Hosta plants in an English garden

Hostas' ability to tolerate the sun depends on the species. Most types of hostas, including blue and green hostas, thrive in dappled or partial shade.

This means that these varieties enjoy a bit of morning sun but need afternoon shade to thrive. If these species of hostas receive an excessive amount of sun, then their leaves will burn.

However, some varieties can tolerate more sun than others. For example, yellow and gold hostas tolerate increased sun exposure better. Additionally, hostas in Zones 6 and below tolerate more sunlight because they are in colder climates. As shade-loving plants, hostas in warmer zones do not perform well at all in sunlight. 

How Long Do Hostas Live? 

Hostas can for live 30 years or more if you properly maintain them. There are many steps that go into establishing and maintaining hostas.

Three of these steps are planting hostas in the proper season, choosing the right planting site for them, and properly caring for them after you've planted them. Let's discuss these steps in more detail below.

Planting Hostas in the Proper Season

The best seasons to plant hostas are fall and spring. You can plant hostas in the summer, but you will have to water the plants more than you typically would to ensure that they survive the summer heat.  

Choosing the Right Planting Site

Woman gardener manually transplants plant from pot into the soil

As mentioned, the majority of hostas do well in partial or dappled shade and can't tolerate excessive sun. Because of this, you should plant most hostas in an area of your garden that does not receive too much sun.

However, some hostas, like yellow hostas, enjoy partial sun, so plant them in a spot where they can receive more sunlight. 

In addition, keep in mind that hostas grow the best in slightly acidic to neutral soil. So, if you are planting hostas in pots, be sure to plant them in soil that has a pH of about 6.5-7.

Also, make sure that your hosta's soil is well-drained. One way to ensure that potted hostas have well-drained soil is to buy pots with drainage holes in the bottom. 

Click here to find a pot with drainage holes on Amazon.

Properly Caring for Hostas After You've Planted Them

Many factors play a role in caring for your hostas after you have planted them. For one, if you plan to apply fertilizer to the plant, you should ensure that it is a slow-release fertilizer that contains fairly equal levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Slow-release fertilizers are best for hostas because the plants thrive when nutrients are released during set, continual intervals. One of the best nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) ratios for a hosta is 10-10-10. 

Click here to find a slow-release 10-10-10 granular fertilizer on Amazon.

If you are going to fertilize hostas, you should begin fertilizing them in the spring and apply the fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks. 

In regards to watering hostas, ensure that you keep their soil moist. The amount of water that you give the plant depends on its size and how much sunlight or shade it is receiving.

If your hosta is large, then water it about twice a week if it is in a shaded area. However, if it receives full or partial sun, you will need to water it more often. During the summer, it may require daily watering, especially in warmer climates. 

In contrast, you only have to water small and medium-sized hostas about twice a week during the summer and once a week during the rest of the year. 

Young Hostas for lined up and for sale at a nursery.

In Closing 

Hostas are versatile perennials that add immense beauty to any garden due to their lush foliage. Because of their versatility, potted hostas aren't that difficult to overwinter. Simply bring the pots into an unheated building during the winter, or remove them from the pots and plant them in your garden. 

Also, keep in mind that it is best to cut hostas back for the winter due to damaging pests and that most hostas prefer partial or dappled shade. With the proper care, these plants can add beauty to your garden for 30 years or more!

Before you go, check out some of our other articles: 

Do Deer Eat Hostas? [And How to Prevent It]

How to Overwinter Gardenia - In Pots and In Ground

One comment

  1. I’m on the third floor of an apartment building in Wisconsin (about 40 miles directly west of Milwaukee) and I, fortunately, have a deck (or porch, or whatever you want to call it) and have been growing hostas in pots for several years–and I’m on the south side, getting more sun than I desire, but the hostas don’t seem to mind at all…there is a deck above me so they’re somewhat protected and I try to put them in the some-what shade created by the corner posts of the deck, but there isn’t a whole lot of shade there (and I think I chose hostas that can tolerate some sun). I have several different varieties and they look great…some are green and white and some are different deep purple-red colors and very velvety. I cover them with bags in the winter and double the covering when temps are below zero. I may have lost one or two in the past years in winter, but most survive wonderfully!

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