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Hostas: my hosta were too small this year

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sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

July 28, 2012
7:44 AM

Post #9221286

Atlanta, GA zone 7

I know we had that weird hot spring... I even put my tomato plants out a full month early. But I don't know if this caused all my hosta to be smaller. My Master Gardener friend (about 1 mile from me) who had some huge Sum & Substance in prior years is saying the same thing... I have my Patriots and they've always been big and full but they shrank this year. The only one that seems to be the same size is Guacamole. Even the Blue Mammoths are not as big...

Any ideas?

ViolaAnn

ViolaAnn
Ottawa, ON
(Zone 5a)

July 28, 2012
7:55 PM

Post #9221984

They need more water.
sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

July 29, 2012
7:23 AM

Post #9222266

we've actually had more rain this year than in previous years. We've actually been in drought so long this rain is a surprise but I'll bet you are right - last year probably stunted their growth...? This year has been just plain wrong. 90 in April and now monsoon rains after years of drought...

ViolaAnn

ViolaAnn
Ottawa, ON
(Zone 5a)

July 29, 2012
9:11 AM

Post #9222364

I almost asked you if it was really dry last year because it can certainly have an effect on the next year's size. If they are getting lots of water this year, it should bode well for next.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

July 29, 2012
11:01 AM

Post #9222496

I also found many of mine were much smaller.
Wisc hardly had any snow,
we had a lot of rain in may, but hardly any since.

I watered thru-out our drought just to keep them alive, I just hope it makes a difference for next year.
I'm also trying to improve my sandy soil...
kiseta
Augusta, GA
(Zone 8a)

July 29, 2012
11:22 AM

Post #9222510

my Guacamole is doing good, it is a 2 year old plant in a pot, also the Orange Marmalade is doing better then last year, last year by this time all the leaaves where burned. I keep them in shade amongs the coleus and hand water them almost every day. Etelka

Thumbnail by kiseta
Click the image for an enlarged view.

sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

July 30, 2012
8:54 AM

Post #9223540

my Guacamole is really one of the few that look good... a survivor plant for sure. I have been digging up my beautiful Japanese lacecap hydrangeas and potting them, as they were really failing. Now they are big and robust and were covered with blooms this year. It is hard - and expensive - to find really big, nice pots! It has made such a difference for them not to fight the trees for the water. I simply could not add enough water. Even took a long screwdriver and punched holes in the soil and then watered. Still the trees got the water first.

Maybe start digging up and potting the hosta now...??? I did dig up areas this spring and added the good stuff and that's made a little difference but not as much as I would have hoped.

tcs1366

tcs1366
Itasca,IL&Lk Delton, WI
(Zone 5a)

July 31, 2012
4:45 AM

Post #9224515

after a year with so little precipitation, if they get enough over the winter, will they bounce back, or is it like starting over?

Eleven

Eleven
Royal Oak, MI
(Zone 6a)

July 31, 2012
5:08 AM

Post #9224534

Tcs, hostas do most of their growing in the heat of summer, so I don't think winter moisture will cure these issues.

Sterhill, did you water in the spring? You commented on setting out tomato plants early. I know that I began watering my hostas in April, because they were all breaking dormancy and needed the moisture. And I haven't stopped watering since; my water bill was bad last quarter and will be higher this one.

Also, if you failed to give them enough water last summer (lots of people had drought and heat worries last summer), that could have stunted their roots then and not been apparent until this year. I have a couple that I moved during last year's drought and didn't give enough special care afterwards; they were stunted and struggling this year.
sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

July 31, 2012
6:51 AM

Post #9224622

Eleven - I have to say you are spot on. Most of my hosta are such soldiers, I spent a lot of my water on more needy plants and didn't give the hosta so much. Anything that wilted got water and the hosta all looked so good, like they didn't need as much... well, now they have shrunk and now I know. My water bill was getting out of bounds and that's one big reason why I potted up my big hydrangeas. I can't do those huge bills... and the next person to say 'have you tried adding some organic matter?' better stand back. I will sure be more attentive and may even start potting some hosta up. The potted plants in my garden are doing so well.

Here is one that was flat on the ground and I potted it and talk about springing back! (forgive posting in a hosta group but it makes such a good example)

Thumbnail by sterhill
Click the image for an enlarged view.

bleek
Lawrenceville, GA
(Zone 7a)

August 2, 2012
8:15 AM

Post #9226998

Hosta's do not like to be rootbound, they will not grow "big" then when they are planted in the garden. Also, I mulch the ground to keep the soil moist and I have only watered my garden twice this year. They have held up better this year then last year. You have to remember that potted plants dry out a lot quicker then the ones planted in the garden. Hot air is all around the pot AND on the top. If you have a small area then bury a soaker hose under the mulch and close by the plants water that way. Much less water to evaporate.
sterhill
Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

August 2, 2012
8:41 AM

Post #9227033

HAH - not only are they not growing "big" when planted in the garden, they are shrinking. As were my hydrangeas before I started digging them up and potting them. I do mulch but the trees are numerous and really vigorous. One year I followed a friend's advice and piled up a big stack of leaves and pine needles in the back of the garden to compost naturally. The next spring I had a big mound that was so throughly shot through with roots, I had to take a maddox to break it up. I finally gave up and that pile of "roots/compost" is still there.

My plants - in the ground - are not getting the water whereas the ones in the pots certainly are. I've been 'large container gardening' for about 3 or 4 years now and I have to say it really works for me. I have tried soaker hoses and never found them to work very well. I have added tons of organic matter. I even bought this thing called a 'leaf muncher' that you can pour all your fall leaves and pine needles into and it makes nice buckets of shredded organic matter.

If you have only watered twice this season, you are blessed!!!

My front garden - with much fewer trees - is not such a problem.

I have potted up some of the hosta and will show some before and after photos next summer.

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