What is better then a hosta?...two hostas of course! Dividing your hostas could not be easier. We are always asked by worried hosta enthusiasts how and when to divide hostas as to not damage them. Dividing your hostas keeps them healthy and vigorous when done in the right way at the right time.
Whether your hostas are in pots or in the ground the method for splitting is the same. Remove from the pot or dig out of the ground and shake off as much soil from the roots as you can. Once you have removed some soil you will be able to see more clearly what you are cutting or pulling, reducing the chances of damaging the plant. You can divide with a spade, knife or your hands depending on the size and density of the clump. I personally prefer to divide with my hands where possible.
Find a central point in the clump avoiding as many buds or stems as possible and cut through. If you are dividing with you hands you can just ease the plant apart. Do not worry if you damage any buds or stems as this will not harm the plant. Remove any damaged foliage and put the divisions in a bucket of water to soak for 5-10 mins before planting or potting up. Be sure to always disinfect any tools, surfaces and your hands in between plants to avoid transferring any virus' or fungal disease between plants.
(Root bound hosta divided with a knife)
When should hostas be divided?
Many people don't know exactly when the best time to divide their hostas is. The answer is there are two periods of the year when division is best carried out, Spring and Autumn. Dividing hostas in the Spring should be done as the early buds start to appear, this will allow you to see where you should make the division. When divided in the Spring your hostas will have plenty of time to root and put on new growth that same year.
Dividing in the early Autumn is often the preferred choice by many people as it usually means very little watering is required once you have planted your new divisions out.
On the nursery we divide all year round but aim to do as much as we can in the Autumn. Dividing in the Summer is fine as long as the divisions are kept well watered. Plants divided in the Winter do not put on any new growth straight away and the ground is usually frozen so it is usually best to wait until Spring if possible.
How often can I divide my hosta?
Hostas can be divided reasonably regularly depending on the variety, slower growing varieties will need longer to recover where as vigorous varieties can be divided two or three times a year. Always take into account how long it has taken for your prized hosta to get as big as it has before going and cutting it into hundreds of tiny pieces.
When dividing you can take as little as one or two buds off, cut completely in half or cut the whole plant in hundreds of pieces. The larger the amount divided the higher chance of survival.
How big does my hosta have to be before I divide it?
Any hosta that has more than two eyes (buds/stems) can be divided. This however does not mean the division will always be successful. The bigger the division the more likely it will survive. Smaller or slower growing varieties need to be divided with care, fast growing varieties can be cut to pieces and still survive without too many failing.