The hosta includes stunning houseplants that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Their striking foliage makes them the perfect decorative piece.
In this article, we’ll be exploring how to care for and grow a thriving hosta houseplant.
This genus belongs to the Asparagaceae family (Asparagus family) and is commonly known as plantain lily. The majority of hosta species are native to regions in Korea, Japan, and China.
It is known as a fussy houseplant because it requires slightly different care compared to other houseplants. The major care requirement is that it needs an annual dormancy period of six weeks during the winter.
The hosta isn’t a common houseplant but there are plenty of reasons why it should feature in your home. It sprouts lush, green, and waxy leaves which are accompanied by pretty flowers. The color, texture, and shape of the foliage will vary across the many varieties.
The plantain lily’s leaf shape, color, and texture will differ depending on the species. We’ve briefly touched on the top five most common types below.
- Hosta ventricosa: It sprouts large, oval-shaped, and shiny leaves with a smooth texture. The foliage is decorated with widely spaced, dark green veins. During the late summer, you can expect bell-shaped violet blossoms.
- Hosta ‘undulata’: This variation is also known as the ‘wavy plantain lily’ and produces dense growth with wavy marginated green foliage and white markings. It will bloom funnel-shaped flowers that are usually a lighter shade of purple.
- Hosta sieboldiana: It has two nicknames; ‘elegans plantain lily’, and ‘blue angel’ hosta. This houseplant has thick, heart-shaped leaves with a blue-gray color. It also grows stunning purple, bell-shaped flowers.
- Hosta longipes: This type of hosta has thick, oval-shaped, and glossy leaves with deeply ribbed veins. During the springtime, it produces light purple, funnel-shaped blooms.
- Hosta sieboldii: These houseplants will grow violet flowers and narrow, lance-shaped leaves with creamy edges.
How Big Do They Get?
Typically, the average hosta will grow between 6 to 8 inches (15.2 – 20.3cm) tall. It also produces a mature spread of 18 to 24 inches (45.7 – 60.9cm).
How Fast Do They Grow?
A plantain lily is a relatively slow-growing houseplant and will take 2 to 4 years to reach its mature size. You can expect a healthy plant to sprout an additional 3 to 4 inches (7.6 – 10cm) of growth a year.
How Long Do They Live?
The hosta has a long lifespan and can live for many decades. When well looked after, it can survive for 30 years or longer.
Are They Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?
The hosta is mildly toxic to both cats and dogs, just like the cyclamen. The stem and leaves contain a poisonous chemical called glycoside saponins. When either of your pets ingests these saponins they’ll experience gastrointestinal issues.
Your cat or dog may experience one or more of the following side effects:
Always seek advice from your vet to discover the best course of action.
You’ll need to pay special attention to the hosta as it has a few unique demands. The plant is often regarded as finicky however with the right care it’ll flourish.
How Often to Water It
Unlike houseplants such as the Mandevilla who prefer a drier environment, the hosta absolutely loves moist potting soil. It needs to be watered about three times a week to keep the soil consistently moist.
You should cut down on the number of times you water it during the wintertime. As the plant is dormant, it doesn’t need as much moisture. Typically, you can water it once a week during this period.
The hosta also does well when watered with distilled water as some varieties are sensitive to the chemicals found in regular tap water.
Does It Need Drainage?
Drainage is vital! The houseplant requires a lot of water and without drainage, it will develop root rot. The soil must be moist but a soggy and saturated environment will kill the plant.
The container you choose must have at least one large drainage hole. This will allow any extra water to drip out instead of settling at the bottom of the pot.
You can even add a layer of gravel and sharp sand to further enhance the drainage.
Frequent trimming is great for your plant’s health and appearance. It can do without being pruned as the older leaves will drop off during winter, however, it’s a good way to prepare it for its dormant period.
Top tip: Always wipe your pruners or pair of scissors with a rubbing alcohol mixture. Sterilizing your tools will prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
When and How to Cut It Back
Ideally, you should trim back wilted or brown growth in late fall. It’s best to remove unhealthy foliage and leaves before the wintertime.
Go through these steps to successfully trim it:
- Use a sterilized pair of scissors or shears to cut off the damaged leaves.
- You will also need to cut the stems right down to the soil level.
- Water the plant thoroughly.
How to Deadhead It
Deadheading is necessary to rid your plant of dying and wilting blooms. You should do this right after the flowers begin to die or during late autumn.
Here’s a list of the necessary steps:
- Take out your pruners and cut off the entire scape.
- You should cut the bloom close to the base of the main plant.
- Wipe your tools before using them again and make sure that the soil is moist.
When and How to Transplant It
It will benefit from being transplanted once a year during the springtime. This will ensure that your plant is grown in fresh, nutrient-rich soil, and has enough room for additional growth.
If you notice the roots growing through the drainage holes then you must repot it immediately. This is called root-bound and occurs when a container is too small so there isn’t enough space for the roots to grow.
We’ve provided you with a step-by-step guide here:
- Loosen the soil by either knocking on the bottom of the container or sliding a blunt knife along the perimeter of the pot.
- You can then slide or lift the plant out of the container.
- Dust off the soil clinging to the roots and fill a new pot with fresh soil.
- Plant it at the same depth that it was in the previous container.
- Water it well and care for it as you previously did.
Top tip: If you don’t have any larger pots available then you can split the root clump into several sections and grow them as individual plants.
How to Reduce Shock When Transplanting It
The hosta can become stressed and shocked while it is transplanted, but there are two things you can do to lessen this.
Watering it well a day before repotting it is the most effective way to help the roots settle into their new home and reduce the shock they experience. You should also water it deeply right after repotting it too.
Another key factor that will affect the amount of shock experienced is the temperature. It’s best to transplant it during the warmer spring and summer months as cool temperatures will stress the roots.
How to Make It Grow Bigger?
There are a few ways to increase the size of your current hosta. We’ll go through the easiest and most effective ways to make it grow bigger.
The key to a healthy and larger houseplant is the amount of sunshine it receives. The best way to encourage further growth is by placing it under dappled sunlight or partial shade.
You must also ensure that it receives enough nutrients to produce rapid growth. You can cover the soil with a layer of mulch which not only protects the roots but is a great source of nutrients too.
Additionally, you can feed it well and we’ll discuss the specific fertilizer routine for the best results later on.
Regular maintenance is also a great way to promote healthy growth. It’s best to wipe away any dust that has accumulated on the foliage. You should also trim off any dead leaves throughout the year.
How to Care for It During Fall
A plantain lily will require specific care during autumn so that it’s fully prepared for its period of dormancy in winter. Its roots need to be protected against the winter chill.
If more than 25 percent of the houseplant is dying then it’s a good idea to cut back the entire plant. This is also the perfect time to split your overgrown houseplant too.
A great way to keep the roots warm is by covering the top of the soil with a layer of mulch. It acts as a protective barrier against cold temperatures.
It’s also important to refrain from feeding it as winter approaches because it won’t produce new growth. Too many fertilizer salts will build up in the soil and damage the roots.
How to Winterize It
If you have cared for the houseplant well during the fall then you won’t have to do much in the wintertime. This plant needs to enter a stage of dormancy for at least six weeks to remain healthy.
The most important bit of care that you can provide your plant is by trimming off any dead foliage. The leaves will naturally begin to wilt and drop off, however, it’s a good idea to help your plant out and pluck these off.
If you live in a warmer region then it’s important to make sure that the plant is placed in cooler temperatures while it’s dormant.
Sun or Shade
Each houseplant requires a different amount of sunshine throughout the year, just like the poinsettia needs complete darkness during the wintertime. The plantain lily will also need a different amount of sunlight during winter.
In summer it can withstand dappled sunlight, however, during the winter it should only be positioned in partial shade. It is highly shade-tolerant and will wither away when placed under full sunlight.
You will need to be careful to avoid the harsh afternoon sunshine as it will damage this plant’s foliage.
What Soil Does It Need?
The best type of soil is one with a pH level between 6.5 to 7.5 and it must be fertile. A multipurpose soil or one that is humus- and nutrient-rich is perfect.
The potting mixture must retain water while also allowing moisture to drain out readily.
The plantain lily can be fed at the beginning of springtime with a slow-releasing fertilizer with the following ratio; 10-10-10. You can then use a well-balanced and liquid fertilizer once every two weeks during the spring and summertime.
Pot Size and Type
The optimal pot should be 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15.2cm) wider than the rootball. This will allow the roots plenty of space for new growth.
You should avoid using a metal pot and rather opt for a plastic container with a couple of drainage holes. Plastic is ideal for this houseplant as it allows water to drain out while also not drying out the soil too quickly.
A plantain lily isn’t too demanding when it comes to temperature and can thrive in a range of 40 to 80°F (4 – 26.6°C). The most important thing is that it has to experience a six-week period of dormancy in temperatures around 42°F (5.5°C).
It is more sensitive to hot temperatures than cooler ones. So, make sure that it isn’t grown in an overly warm area.
The average household humidity will be great for this plant. Typically, it does well when grown in a relative humidity level between 30 and 40 percent.
Outdoors vs Indoors
The plantain lily is both an outdoor and indoor plant, however, it is traditionally grown as an outdoor plant. The same can be said for many popular houseplants like the hydrangea.
If you reside in USDA hardiness zones of 3 through 9 then you can grow this plant in your garden year-round. It’s also known for its versatility and hardiness, so it’s well worth growing outside too.
You will still need to water it regularly and feed it well. This will ensure that it prospers and blooms, making it a great addition to your garden.
As it’s sensitive to bright light, you should make an effort to find a shady location for it. Apart from the amount of sunshine it gets, it’s actually a fairly low-maintenance outdoor plant.
Does It Flower?
Yes, the hosta sprouts long stalks called scapes which produce flower buds. These buds open up and show off beautiful flowers that almost resemble a lily. Typically, the flowers range from lavender to white and they attract hummingbirds and bees.
When and How Often Does It Bloom?
The hosta will bloom once a year during late spring or early summer. The type of care it receives will determine whether or not it flowers on a yearly basis.
How Long Do Blooms Last?
Usually, the blooms will begin to sprout for around three weeks. Once the bud opens up these flowers will survive for three days.
How to Make It Bloom?
You can promote blooms by giving your houseplant some TLC. The amount of sunlight it receives, the type of fertilizer, and maintenance it gets will all influence whether or not it flowers.
The plantain lily prefers to be kept in partial shade as full sunlight will severely impact its health. A quick trim after the flowers begin to die can encourage future blooms as energy will be directed to new growth.
How to Grow It
If you’re in love with your hosta houseplant then there’s some great news coming. You can grow even more plants by propagating them or planting their seeds. Take a look at the guides and list of steps set out below.
We’ll guide you through propagating your houseplant in soil and water. You have a variety of methods available, so choose the best one for you.
Propagating in Soil
You can multiply your collection of houseplants by planting them in nutrient-dense and quick-draining potting soil.
You have a few options available; propagate a stem cutting, split the root clump, and plant the bulbs.
How to Grow It from Stem Cuttings
A single cutting can be taken from the plant and grown in its own pot. The most important consideration to keep in mind is that the cutting must have some white root tissue still attached to it.
Check out the following guide:
- Tear a cutting with a leaf and root still attached to it.
- Find a small container and fill it with moist soil.
- Plant the stem cutting inside and water it frequently.
- The cutting will successfully root after a month.
- Once the roots have established themselves and the plant is large enough, you can then repot it in a wider container.
When and How to Divide It to Propagate
This is by far the most popular way to propagate a hosta as it thins out the plant and is highly successful. You can split the plant into multiple divisions, however, each section should have 2 or 3 buds and roots still attached to it.
It’s best to carry out this method during early spring and before the flower spikes become too tall.
We’ll guide you through the entire process:
- Remove the hostas from their current container and shake off the extra soil surrounding the roots.
- Take a look at the roots to discover the best way to slice through them so that each division has at least two buds.
- Use a sterilized knife and slice through the root clump from the crown down.
- Pull apart the divisions and untangle the roots.
- Prepare a container with moist potting soil and plant each division.
- Water them well and place them in a partially shady area.
- The roots will quickly establish themselves, so you can look after these new plants as you previously did.
Top tip: You should slice the rootball in such a way that each section has numerous buds. The fewer buds attached to a division will mean it’s less likely to bloom.
When and How to Plant the Bulbs
Hosta bulbs or bare roots can be purchased from your local nursery. You’ll plant them during early spring or fall in soil and watch as an entirely new plant emerges.
Follow these steps:
- First, you must soak the bulbs in distilled water for 1 hour.
- Take out a new container and dig a 4 inch (10cm) wide hole, and then plant this bulb in the center of your hole.
- Make sure that the crown is just below the surface and all of the roots are covered.
- You must then deeply water it to help the roots settle.
- Additionally, you can add a layer of mulch to protect the roots and encourage growth.
- It will root in a few weeks and then you can treat it as you would a mature plant.
Propagating Stem Cuttings in Water
You can place a stem cutting in a glass of filtered water and you’ll be able to monitor its new root growth. After the roots are long enough, you’ll then repot it in soil.
We’ve explained this process in more detail below:
- Tear a cutting from the plant and make sure that a root from the rhizome is still attached to it.
- Fill a glass jar with cool distilled water and place the cutting inside.
- You may need to change the water every few days to avoid bacteria building up and infecting the cutting.
- Check the cutting for any new growth and after 3 or 4 weeks you should see new root growth.
- You can then transplant it in a moist potting mix and care for it normally.
Growing from Seed
The hosta’s seeds can be planted during the springtime, however, you should be aware that this method is generally unreliable and time-consuming. Planting its seeds may not be successful but it’s a fun method and if you’re up for the challenge then follow the guide below.
- You can collect the seeds by peeling them from the dried-out seedboxes. These are located along the flower stalk.
- Store the seeds in a paper bag and place them in a warm area.
- Fill a pot with a seedling starter mix and moisten it.
- Now it’s time to plant the seeds. You will need to place them 1 inch (2.5cm) below the soil’s surface, and then sprinkle a thin layer of potting mix over them.
- Keep the soil moist and you should see new growth emerge after 8 or 12 days.
- You will then need to wait a month or two for new leaf growth. Once, three leaves have sprouted you can then transplant the seedlings.
What Diseases Does It Get?
The plantain lily can become diseased when it isn’t grown in the optimal environment or if it isn’t cared for well. In this section we’ll go through the most common health issues and what you need to do to remedy the problem.
Why Are the Leaves Turning Yellow?
If the leaves begin to yellow during the wintertime then is completely normal as the plant enters a stage of dormancy. You’ll need to be worried when the foliage turns into a yellow color during the warmer spring and summer months.
The major reasons for yellowing leaves are high temperatures, direct sunshine, and petiole rot.
This houseplant is relatively hardy but it doesn’t do well in hot temperatures. You’ll need to keep an eye on the plant during the summertime and find a cool location for it.
The afternoon sun is way too harsh for this shade-loving plant. It’s best to position it in partial shade or dappled sunshine.
Petiole rot occurs when a plant is overwatered for an extended period of time or humidity levels are too high. You will need to cut back any unhealthy growth.
Leaves Turning Brown
The foliage will become brown when it’s exposed to extreme temperatures, direct light, or has a drainage problem.
You will have to monitor the houseplant’s health during the summertime as it’s sensitive to hot temperatures. When temperatures begin to rise, you must find a cooler room for the plant.
Direct sunshine can damage the foliage as it’ll burn the leaves. The best way to solve this problem is by immediately repositioning the plant in a shady area.
You can enhance drainage by planting the hosta in quick-draining soil and a pot with 3 to 5 drainage holes.
Rust Spots on the Leaves
Rusty and brown spots will emerge on the leaves when the environment is too moist and humid. The hosta isn’t too fussy when it comes to humidity, and a moist environment can actually be harmful. It is especially susceptible to this issue during winter.
So, when these rust spots appear, you must find a drier area for your plant.
Why Isn’t It Growing?
Your houseplant’s growth may become stunted when it is lacking in vital nutrients, exposed to direct sunlight, or temperatures are too high.
Feeding your houseplant regularly is important during its active growing seasons. It needs the necessary nutrients and minerals to sprout new growth. Always make sure to follow a consistent feeding routine.
We’ve mentioned that this houseplant is sensitive to direct sun as it scorches the foliage and may even stunt its growth. You must find a shady area and protect it from the afternoon sun.
During the summer temperatures can rise drastically, and your plant will need a slightly cooler home. You’ll need a room where it isn’t as hot, and this will also encourage blooms.
The hosta genus may typically be grown outdoors, but it makes for a fantastic houseplant too. The most important thing to keep in mind when growing one is that it needs to be winterized and dormant for a period of time.
Once you’ve got to grips with the precise care requirements then you’ll watch your plant prosper for decades to come.