To Divide or not to divide. Step-by-step video and photo tutorials on how to divide hosta plants.
This video brings up some crucial information about the results after dividing hostas.
It is wise to disinfect all of your garden tools with a 10% bleach solution each time you cut hosta divisions to help prevent the spread of disease.
Shoots emerge in the spring from dormant buds which were formed one to three years earlier. You can often see buds in the crown of the hosta at the base of actively growing shoots. Some of these buds will grow into new shoots, or divisions, the following year. Some buds will become active in succeeding years. The buds expand during the growing season. The number of buds formed varies depending on the cultivar type and the age of the plant. Small plants of most hostas do not generally form more than one or two buds for the following years growth. Often, a single bud is typical for a small hosta after the first growing season.
There are various ways to divide hostas. For a well-established clump, you can take a slice out of it as you would a circular cake, using a sharp knife or space. The slice, once removed, can be broken down into smaller pieces. For smaller hostas, a sharp knife is generally all that is needed. Fill the hole back in with soil. Dip knife or shovel in a fungicidal powder or 10% bleach solution. At HostasDirect, we rarely divide our hostas with those methods. Rather, we dig out the entire clump, wash the soil out with a hose, (the soil acts almost as a glue), and then we analyze the root structure and look at where the dormant bud eyes are growing. Based upon our observations, we will gently attempt to break the rhizomes apart with our hand, or use a knife to make minimal cuts if necessary. This will create very little damage to the plant. It takes much longer to dig out the plant and wash the soil out, but yields a better division and much less waste when we are digging plants for our customers. Then, we replant the clump. Some hostas, such as sieboldiana, are very tough.
For a step-by-step photo tutorial, see our Digging and Dividing Photo Tutorial Page.
Dividing a Hosta, Tom Carlson Video Tutorial
Watch as Tom Carlson explains how to divide hostas, as he divides a huge clump of H. ‘Sun Power.’ Watch the other parts of this series as well as many other educational hosta videos.
The number of new plants that can be obtained from an established clump is limited to the number of buds or fans in that clump. The main buds of the hostas are normally cone-shaped and mauve, violet, dark brown or almost black in color. Careful examination of the white rootstock just below the bud will usually reveal a number of smaller, latent buds. If the main bud is destroyed or damaged, some of these latent buds may begin to grow. We have read that the easiest way to make these latent side buds to grow is to trample the emerging crowns and destroy the shoots as soon as they poke up through the ground in the spring. In addition, we have read you can simply cut your plant off as they come out of the ground, and this may stimulate the latent buds to grow earlier than they otherwise would. This process is stressful on the plant so be careful when using this technique.
Named after Henry Ross, the Ross Method also stimulates dormant buds to grow faster. Scrape the earth away from around the hosta revealing the root. Insert a strong knife into a fan of leaves at the point where the leaves emerge from the rootstock and then push down through the roots into the soil. Remove the knife and insert it again at right angles to your original cut. This will cut the plant into four sections, while leaving it in the ground. Make sure to disinfect your knife in-between cuts. Return the soil. Some leaves will turn yellow over the following weeks, but this technique will stimulate additional shoots to grow from the latent buds sooner. It can be very hard work, depending on the size of the hosta you are Rossizing.