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Planting a Hosta bed

  • Planting a Hosta bed
  • Planting a Hosta bed

A couple of years ago I visited Mark Roberts at Stafford Lake Nursery who has, I believe, the country's largest selection of Hostas. It's worth a visit as he has a lovely nursery in the woods near Woking. I was impressed by what I saw and quickly realised that Hostas, once you had an eye for them, were the kind of plant you could get hooked on. Their lush leaves and subtle tones and textures of green, blue and yellow are really something. So I came away with three which I duly planted.

The first year our local snails were impressed too and feasted so thoroughly I thought I'd lost the plants. However, I persevered and moved them to a more shady spot, where they have flourished (photo: Hosta 'Paul's Glory'). We have just as many snails where I moved them, but maybe it's a case of the plants 'hardening' as they grow and/or being stronger in more shade.

So, emboldened, I am now planning a raised Hosta bed, 6m x 1m, in part shade in full view of our kitchen windows. I'd like a choice selection with as much interest through the year as possible. Any recommendations please.

Also advice on the best ground preparation for healthy plants and to deter snails (who you'll see from my photo have not entirely given up!) would be very welcome. Organic preferred please.

Comments (8)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Wow! Lovely slab edging! Are they the tombstones of your ancestors? (joke)

    As it's a raised bed, I suppose you need to go with the "big ones at the back, liddle ones at the front" rule more strictly than usual... and personally I love the variegated ones, so I'd vote for lots of those!

    Having seen a few Hosta beds over the years, they can sometimes become a homogenous mass, so if I were doing something like this, I'd set out some curves or scallop-shapes with big (hand-sized) rounded pebbles/rocks then plant around them, so there is some degree of seperation.

    Also, knowing what a slug-magnet they are, I would probably make a paved/brick edging to the bed on the grass side, to give me a zone for putting the slug pellets down...

    Do put up some photos of it once it's planted, won't you?

  2. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Not ancestors, but maybe I could have them engraved with the names of much-loved plants that got caught by the frost or eaten alive by slugs and snails. Then maybe not, let's think positive for the new bed!

    Those are great points Rachel about keeping the plants separate and having a line of stone at the back of the border to keep it a 'snail free' zone. Thank you!

  3. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    If you do put stones along the back, remember that snails like to hide in stone crevices, and are of course a major problem with Hostas.. I know a few people who are now using a dilute garlic or bleach solutions on their Hostas, both seem to work, but od course when it rains that gets washed off and has to be reapplied.

  4. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    And that Hosta Pauls Glory is looking very good Jeremy!

  5. Grower

    Stephen Hadley

    I love hostas and have spent £100 on them if you have the people next door it does not matter what you put around them to keep the slugs and snails of they will find there way to your to me its like putting a big bowl of salad out just for them. I have ivy growing up my wall and one day decided to put the hose pipe on it. Never have I seen so many small snails drop I found out where they gardeners say they don't ate ivy.??? But they hide in it.????????????

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Just to be clear, I was meaning to use lines/scallop shapes of rounded pebble-like stones within the bed to give it some form and to break up the Hostas (searches internet for photo of what I mean - aha!) and flat, closely-laid brick-type edging to provide an area for laying out slug pellets to kill them before they cross over from the lawn.

    I wouldn't want to inadvertently encourage anyone to create snail-dens!!

    • Planting a Hosta bed
  7. Grower

    Stafford Lake Nursery

    I'm still wary about slug pellets exposed outside, apparently some birds will just eat them, then die, particularly blackbirds I seem to recall. I did read recently about an alpine gardener who had some miniature Hostas in his plantings, and he was using those mini jam jars (tiptree do them, for picnics and things I guess), putting a few pellets in them and placing them on their sides next to his Hostas. Apparently that worked and helped keep the birds away from them.

  8. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    I really like the idea of the stones dotted around to break up the greenery, I might do that in a few other places too! And the min jam jars are a good thought. Thanks.

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