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Old 04-18-2008, 12:14 PM   #1
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


We moved into our house late last summer and don't have a lot of experience with gardening. That being said, we left most of our plants untended before the snow came.

We have 4 large hosta plants in our front pathway garden that we did not collect up the foliage from. We did, however, cut the flower stems once the flowers fell. Since the snow is gone (just barely) and the spring growing season is coming, what should we do to these plants to help them have a successful year? Their foliage is currently matted on the garden bed and probably rotting/rotted. How close to the "trunk?" of the plant do we cut off this foliage?

Also there are a few other plants in the same garden. Should we take the same approach to these other plants as well?

I'm kicking myself for not asking this in the fall when it would have made a bigger difference, but answers to my questions and any comments on standard rules for gardening, are much appreciated. THANKS!!


Last edited by curls00; 04-18-2008 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:25 PM   #2
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


My experience with hostas is limited, but we've never taken one lick of care for them and they come back fuller every year. I think they're the outdoor equivalent of a Spider Plant. You actually have to go out of your way to kill them. lol

What we do in the spring, (or the fall if we think of it, which we rarely do) is cut everything back almost to the ground. Heck, if they were in the right spot you could probably do it with a lawnmower. We're kinda in the same boat as you right now. We have a bunch of them in our yard and all of the previous years growth is kinda just laying there all nasty and I haven't gotten around to getting it all cut off, but there's already new growth coming up for this year.

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Old 04-18-2008, 10:42 PM   #3
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


You cannot hurt a Twinkee, and you cannot kill a Hosta! Keep in mind, before there were people on the planet plants got along just fine without us "tending" them.

Yank the old foliage off and let them be. If they're overgrown, you can at any time of year use a spade to slice them in 1/2, 3rds. 1/4's... whatever, and transplant them. They love growing in leaf mulch but will survive in practically anything.

There are 2 kinds of people - those who want Hostas and can't find any, and those who have too many and nobody wants them!
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:25 PM   #4
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


Great, thanks for the advice.

I am fairly sure the previous owners didn't like gardening so they used more hostas than anything, and I'm sure the other plants in there are just as unkillable. Basic rule would be to trim off leaves from all plants in late fall then? (second best would be early spring).

What about the stalks for lilies -- should those be cut right down to nearly nothing, or, leave about 8-12"?
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:34 PM   #5
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


Fall or early spring (before new growth emerges) would be to mow the darn things (hostas and lillies) right to ground level. No part of either of those plants you had last year become part of the new plant this year. The entire plant is dormant underground all winter. Whatever is exposed, no matter what it looks like, is dead.
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:49 PM   #6
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


Don't cut down lily stalks until 6-8 weeks after the blooms have stopped. Not sure why, but that's what I've been told. For more, try www.whiteflower.com -- I've ordered from them and they are a wealth of information.
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:39 PM   #7
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


Quote:
Originally Posted by Allison1888 View Post
Don't cut down lily stalks until 6-8 weeks after the blooms have stopped. Not sure why, but that's what I've been told. For more, try www.whiteflower.com -- I've ordered from them and they are a wealth of information.

I appreciate the info, but for a good laugh, check out the exact link you posted. Wait for the music, it's even funnier!

Edit: I believe the correct link is www.whiteflowerfarm.com ?

Last edited by curls00; 04-19-2008 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:28 PM   #8
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


Quote:
Originally Posted by Allison1888 View Post
Don't cut down lily stalks until 6-8 weeks after the blooms have stopped. Not sure why, but that's what I've been told. For more, try www.whiteflower.com -- I've ordered from them and they are a wealth of information.
Because the foliage (living) from the plant is feeding the newly forming bulb(s) for next year's plant(s).

Some say to wait until the stalk starts turning brown, which usually happens from the bottom up.
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:26 PM   #9
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Caring for hostas and other plants that were neglected this past winter


We had a pretty maintenance free flower bed with tons of hosta (lilirope mostly - don't know if that is how it's spelled though). Anyway, I cut it down as much as I can with garden sheers, but a weed-wacker would do nicely also. I cut mine down in the fall (the ones in the backyard) and in the spring (the ones in the front) and all are growing like crazy. I just yanked off the brown bottom leaves and put them in the compost pile. I've had to split many of them and since I'm redoing all my flowerbeds in front, it will be nice to have the 'extras' to fill in bare spots.

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