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Clean up hosta beds and uncover them? Zone 6 St. Louis area

Edwardsville, IL(Zone 6a)

I haven't yet pulled off the old leaves and stuff I left on in the fall to protect my hostas in the winter. We have had such a mild winter, I am chomping at the bit to get out and uncover. I did pull some stuff off yesterday and there were little pips peeking thru. Also Liberty was up where the winds had blown protection away.

I want to get them cleaned up so I can use the ammonia spray early like Viola Ann always says she uses. I HATE slugs! Every year I vow to be more vigilant, but . . . .

Please let me know zone 5 and 6 hosta buddies. What are you doing?


Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

I cleaned my beds last week here in zone 5 a few hours north of you. Things are going to come up when they want to so you just have to be ready with empty boxes, pots and anything else you can use to cover up any leafed out hosta in the event we get an overnight freeze. The problem with leaving things covered as they start growing is that the fall leaves support the growth while shading it making it weak. When you remove that support the plants can sometimes be too weak underneath to support itself. Old leaves can also sometimes act as a noose around plant growth keeping it from unfurling.

Just keep an eye on the overnight weather forecasts and be ready.


This message was edited Mar 16, 2012 9:10 AM

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

I'm in zone five and prefer to wait...hoping things stay sleeping a bit longer and if they start to come up, I want to use the leaf debris covering them for whatever cold protection I can get. Eventually I will have my sheets and pots ready to go, but only like doing that a few times after things come way up. That's just a big chore and I hate that time of year!

Virginia Beach, VA

A lot of my hostas are poking and some are few inches up already. I am in the process of adding potting soil combination and fertilizing them.

Too much to do this time of the year with potted hostas , the veggie and flower garden.


I know it is hectic and stressful especially if you are still working but can you hire someone to help you? I have few that I hire for few days because if I can not finish the job I start palpitating!! LOL!!!

Golf had started too and I am mandated to play as much as I can because DH pays a fortune for it. I also have to play well when we play on our vacation and gets paired with other players from all over.

Happy gardening!!!


Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Hi Bellie- I imagine golfing this time of year is wonderful, especially with the gorgeous Springs you have down there. I don't golf but love watching the big tournaments on TV- especially the upcoming Masters!

My garden is a wreck but I should be able to handle things....I've been working a lot but that will be tapering off soon. I just hate when things really start growing and unfurling and then we have a freeze/frost warning. I don't have the guts to risk not covering things, but it is so much work to go out and do that ( not to mention I always feel like a kook because no one else in the neighborhood covers anything!)

I am leaving the beds for now but am trying to clean up the rest of the yard....plenty to do while I wait.

Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

When we cover up our unfurling hosta to protect them from a freeze, it is not a sign of kooky or crazy. It shows that we actually care about our gardens and that we like to present the best possible looking garden to others.

We take a lot of pride in our hard work and get much enjoyment from the results.

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

I know, but it's hard not to feel self conscious about erecting an elaborate tent city in my yard when everyone else seems to think (or know?) there is nothing to worry about, you know? If my back yard wasn't sort of elevated and therefore visible to the road, I promise I wouldn't care!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I'm farther north than Frank.... only 1 bed is cleaned. I'm thining about the east bed, I only have 2 hostas there, but Sun Power is a late riser, so that one can wait a bit.
I have a few nips in the north bed, but have not cleaned it yet...I may do it the first week of April.

I have two huge hostas popping up that need to be moved, and I have an Alex Summers that has to be moved but he'd not poking up yet....

would it be 'bad' to dig it up and pot it before the eyes are emerging? It's in a bad spot, and I plan to take it north with me in April.

Oquawka, IL(Zone 5a)

I've got 3 beds cleaned so far and 2 left to do. I know that it's early and probably will get another hard freeze, but mine are coming up like crazy! I'm enjoying the warm weather, but it's really messing with my hostas! Some are up 4" already. I, too will be covering up with pots if there is a threat of freezing. It does feel good to get outside and get dirty!

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

The warm weather has arrived here and looks like it will stick around, so imagine things will start popping soon here. I cleaned up more leaves today and it did feel great to get out there.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I live in zone 4A. I clean my beds in the fall. Now I will be adding Cypress mulch before they start growing.
Hostas are hardy to zone 3, so I don't know why you people farther south I worried about them.

Thumbnail by CountryGardens Thumbnail by CountryGardens
Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

No one likes having a leafed out hosta turned into hosta mush by a freeze.

That is what we are worried about, not that it will kill them.

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Yeah, our area had a frost a few years ago and the hosta at the local nurseries looked so bad...I was glad I went to the trouble of covering them, even though my yard miraculously was spared.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Bernie -- Lovely photos of some greenery.

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

I was just checking my hosta out today and looking at all that dead foliage around them I'm going to go ahead and clean mine up this weekend I have plenty of covers for them in the garage if need be. I don't think I really have any coming up yet and it's been so warm here I'll have to look closer when I clean.

Virginia Beach, VA

DH kept up with the dead leaves last fall so there is not much. i know that the leaves should have been left alone but i think he has OCD --obsessive compulsive disorder !!LOL!!! Everything must have its right place and must look presentable!! I get in trouble a lot for putting garden stuff where it does not go.


Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Mine would normally still be covered by snow, but for 3 days in a row we've broken heat records and I have over 2 dozen crocuses blooming. I'm not gonna do anything for awhile because I think we'll still get some more snow.

Lewisburg, KY(Zone 6a)

It is early but I have pips and a few leaves unfurling :( I hope we don't repeat that late April freeze like a few yrs back.

I am looking for a few hosta. Anyone interested in a named swap? In the secret swaps, I wind up getting the ones I already have. I am on the daylily thread most of the time, so I will post my weblink for that. LMK if you would be interested in a trade.


Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

Teresa, Do you have hosta have and wants lists posted anywhere? They are what the secret swap participants use to make sure they don't send hosta that you already have.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Hello everyone.
I am gardening earlier this year. I noticed hosta clumps that needed dividing. Guachamole and Blue Cadet. They are just eyes peeking out of the ground.
Question: Can I take a spade and cut these clumps for replanting? Blue Cadet would make 4 plants if I did this.

Virginia Beach, VA

It is a good time to divide hosta and personally I use a cleaver and hammer. I unroot the whole clump and divide them.since most of my hosta are in pots..


Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Bellie: Thats a great help. Pretty much what I did, leaveing roots on what was replanted.
This means I will divide some otherys that have been in the ground too long.

Why do you have your hostas in pots?
My gardens are 5 years old and I do a ammonia drench at this time of year to kill sluggs.

This message was edited Mar 23, 2012 7:35 AM

Virginia Beach, VA

I had always had them in pots because I do not have much room in my beds. my flower beds has a lot of perinnials

my hosta collection is posted somewhere and I wish I know how to cut and paste.


Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

The potting trick sounds like a great solution for you.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

ge (Joanne?),

If you divide using a spade, you will likely lose a few eyes, but if the plants are large enough and fast growing enough, it won't likely make any difference. Just be sure to sterilize your tools between plants.


PS Where are you in Pittsford? I'll be in the Rochester area a few times this summer and fall. Viola congress and wedding in June and 50 year class reunion in Fairport in the fall. I might try to pay your hostas a visit.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I spent the past few days at my place in Wisc, zone4... i have hostas popping up all over the place,

did some cleaning as the leaves were pretty thick on the ground.

hopefully wont get any frost in the next 2 weeks, as i'll be going back then.

The only one starting to unfurl is Lancifolia.

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Bluegrassmom, you just had to mention the April freeze a few years back lol I was feeling good about all of this warm weather and that was a bad freeze too!

I didn't think I had seen any hosta eyes yet when I posted earlier, went out to look and everyone is on their way up! I must have had frost in my eyes lol

As wet as it has been all winter and warm I have a bunch of slugs out there this year!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

get the ammonia out Lea.

I went out yesterday and cleaned my north bed... it was windy as all get up, even blew my large lawn bag -- you should have seen me chasing this stupid bag down the street... how embarrassing.

Then went to HD bought some granular 10 10 10 3 month fertilizer and some 'cow poop' and mushroom compost.
mixed those two together and gave the plants a top coating.

I found about 5 new hostas.... they are all seedlings of various plants ... some were 3-5 eyes and a good size... not sure how i missed them in previous years. I moved them in an area where i can watch them. I have another nice new plant... found it last year.... green and really thin "knife like" leaves. It's small and about 7 eyes now. i think it's an 'offspring' of Ginko Craig, just by the shape of the leaves and it's location.

Did I mention ALL of the plants in my north bed are up? even Wheaton Blue which didnt show up til May/June last year. I have one, it was a seedling I grew about 3 yrs ago... it has not surfaced yet. it was the only one that has survived this long.

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Do you just use straight regular ammonia around the hosta Terese I've never used it before I did find some that mom had it is probably years old looks like it's from the 50's lol It's Cloudy Bo.Peep Ammonia :)

I've been chasing bags down the hill too Terese just too much wind around here lol Didn't lose any leaves trying to hit the bag did you lol That's the part I hate and the dust blowing in my eyes lol

I've got a few seedlings from Dark Shadows popping up again noticed them last year but at least they are larger this year one leaf to one is as big as one of the minis that I have I just wonder if it will show some color this year I gave one to the cat lady last year going to have to look for hers and see if it's doing anything if she remembers where she planted it...I think Dark Shadows is the only one I've ever gotten seedlings out of it has to be that one I have Mississippi Delta planted to the right of it and these seedlings are on the left of DS. As far as I can tell all of my little seedlings are just one eyed.

Maybe your seedling will show up in May/June it may just still be asleep yet, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you or him :) I'd hate to see you lose it after three years.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Lea -- here is a recent thread on ammonia.... I learned about it from Ann too.

and i'd think if your ammonia from the 50's still stinks... it should be good to go.

I have a qt sized spray bottle with 1:10 in it for contact spraying.

I will get back out there in a few days.. maybe Saturday and do the "dump" thing to get eggs and little ones... though when i was out digging around,
I did not see any.

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Thanks Terese and yes it still stinks!

I haven't seen any eggs digging around either but I'm sure they are there these have been some good sized slugs and I'm finding them around every plant I've dug around :( May have to get some more ammonia!

Just what I feared though I think the rains are slowing down sure hope it isn't going to be another dry summer got spoiled not having to drag that hose around last year lol

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Hello everyone, I'm new to hostas.

How do you use ammonia to control slugs? Where do you get the ammonia from?

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

just regular ammonia that you'd buy in the grocery store, i think mine is "Sudsy Ammonia"

the "recipe" is a 10 parts water 1 part ammonia

i use it in a spray bottle, and others like ViolaAnn, pours it over hostas -- she says she tries to do it before teh leaves unfurl ... it kills eggs and slugs on contact.

so, it's not like if you pour or spray today, it will kill them tomorrow.. it's a contact thing.

Hope this helps.

Welcome to the addiction


Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6a)

The deer are already eating the Daylilies and the few hostas that have poked thru the mulch. My landscaper has blown off all the mulch in the beds leaving everything exposed so the deer have an easy time of it. now I have to put a mulch back. If you don't watch these guys they will ruin your yard.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We put up electric fence Sat evening. My wife said Monday morning deer were standing in the driveway gazing at the fence. They remember it from last year. So now tulips are blooming nicely.

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