Hosta La Vista, Baby

Today, I became a man.

Today, I channeled my inner Schwarzenegger, and tackled a division of Hostas – or rather, Hosta division.

The thought occurred to me that the Hostas in the front bed were getting quite large and needed to be divided.  Actually, that thought occurred to me years ago –and Joe has reminded me of this each season.  I always fell back on it’s just not the right time of year to divide – but the shelf life of that excuse was long exhausted.

The truth is that I was terrified to divide them.  For one thing, they were enormous and I dreaded the thought of hacking into them and making them smaller – although I knew that the task would result in more plants.  For another thing, the Hostas were planted under a 40-foot Blue Spruce.  I could remember when I planted them how difficult it was to dig through the roots of this monster tree – and I did not look forward to doing that again for the division.  I was concerned that it would have to be a violent dig, and that would put too much shock on the Hostas – and I would be left with nothing, just some holes where living Hostas used to be.

Today, though, was make or break time.  Armed with a shovel, I sat down in front of my specimens and had a long talk.  “Put on your big boy leaves,” I told them.  “This is going to hurt me a lot more than it does you.”

1. I began by digging around one side of the Hosta, the shovel cutting through the mat of Blue Spruce roots.  Gently, I pried upward.




2. Carefully, I negotiated the tip of the spade through the Hosta shoots, and stepped down, slicing through the Hosta clump. 




3. Eventually, half of the plant could be lifted and placed in its new location.





4. Then came the wilt.  I wondered if this was how a surgeon felt after a difficult procedure on a patient.  I kept checking back regularly, watering, and monitoring the progress of the newly planted Hostas. 



5. Twenty-four hours later, Hostas and surgeon were doing well.






Now that I had some muscle, I noticed the other perennials staring at me in awe — or was that fear?

I stared back.  It was late in the day, and so I assured them in my best Austrian accent, “I’ll be back.”

31 thoughts on “Hosta La Vista, Baby

  1. Hey Ahnie – at least it’s “not a tuhmour!” (Kindergarden Cop).
    Well done! Hosta division is a necessary but scary procedure. Be sure to put coffee grounds and egg shells around your new babies so the slugs don’t chew them up.
    You will really need muscle – and a chain saw – if you decide to divide grasses!! Now THAT’S scary!

  2. I never thought about how a surgeon might feel. I wonder if all patients go through a ‘wilting’ stage like plants! Good going on your hosta divisions. I’m sure they appreciate having a little wiggle room!

    • I keep checking on them, and today I think they appreciated the overcast skies. I know I did. It gave me a good excuse to take care of some neglected indoor chores.

    • Hostas truly are reliable. They come up year after year, and there is plenty of variety. I’m going to try the egg shells and coffee grounds tip to keep slugs away.

  3. Thanks for a thoroughly entertaining narrative Ahnold but I have to wonder if truth be told, has there ever been anyone who actually succeeded in killing a hosta, short of pouring a gallon of R/U or vinegar on it? I have more than 30 “designer” hostas (including Empress Wu) carefully sited where they’ll never, ever need dividing. One that was mislabeled at the hosta nursery was divided–ruthlessly–last year, replanted where it can spread several feet in all directions, and the divisions rebounded within days of transplanting. Astrid ain’t lying–it’s ornamental grasses that’ll separate the body builders from the boys. She’s also right about the coffee grounds and crushed eggshells (i.e., you’ll be very glad you did).

    • I’ll definitely try Astrid’s suggestion — and if you must know, I have known Hostas to die. I’m not sure if it was anything I did to them, but they did peter away. That’s why this division was so difficult. These particular Hostas were just the way I liked them — big and leafy and tropical looking. Thanks for commenting.

  4. This post was so entertaining. Thanks for the smiles Kevin. 🙂 I agree, dividing plants can be so traumatic. I have a garden machete that I’ve used along with a hammer to divide some rather stubborn plants. I had to hammer the knife through. I’m sure I was a scaaaary sight. I only have one hosta in a large pot, so I do envy you having such great conditions for hostas. I am pushing my luck with mine ,since the garden is mostly sunny! All the best! 🙂

  5. I don’t have any hostas, and yet I know the feeling. My day-lillies are in huge clumps needing division. They are fierce and I need to be even more fierce! Since we just eliminated Arnold as our “governator” I may not be ready to channel his energy, but I might as well pull from yours and get with it! Debra

  6. Kevin, I know that feeling that you will somehow lose your hostas by dividing them — even though I can never remember a single such loss. In fact, my original hostas, which came from my parents’ back yard, sat in a cardboard box by my back steps for weeks before I got around to sticking them in the ground. “Sticking” is the right verb here, since I put them in unamended sandy soil in full sun. (I was clueless!) More than 20 years later, they are thriving and need to be divided every few years.

    • What a lovely story — and yes, hostas do seem to be a hardy bunch. It’s probably — no, it’s definitely — my anxiety. All I can say is, “Whew! We all survived.” 🙂

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