Reader question… “I have a hosta that has gotten very big and is developing an empty area in the center. My neighbor told me it needs dividing, but I don’t know how to do it. Can you share how you divide your hostas? I am new to growing hostas and don’t want to kill it with my inexperience.” –Sheila T.
Here’s how to divide a hosta… start by using a shovel to loosen the soil around the hosta and lift it up out of the ground. Each hosta will be different, but if you look closely at the hosta and the way the groups of leaves come out of the roots, you can usually see where the hosta should be divided. Once you have decided on the where, use a shovel or a sharp knife to make vertical cuts between the shoots and down through the clump of roots. Each cut will separate the individual shoots and make a new division.
An alternate way to divide a hosta, and the one I prefer if at all possible, is to wash away all the soil from the roots with a hose. Once you are able to see the bare roots, you will be better able to see where the cuts should be made. Sometimes the roots can even be teased apart from each other without any cutting at all, but if roots do need to be cut, the cuts can be more precise. Hostas divided this way experience less stress and will recover much faster than hostas that have been cut apart with the shovel method.
Dividing a hosta is a simple process, but I have to admit it is not something that I like to do. I like to let my hostas grow to very large sizes, so I do not usually divide them until they get too large or, like yours, develop a “fairy ring” that leaves me with no other choice. We have very severe winters here, with temperatures often dropping to forty below zero, so I try to divide hostas in the spring, just after the eyes have started to grow. When I divide hostas that early in the season, they have a whole growing season to develop roots and become established in their new location… also, the hosta will look more aesthetically pleasing during the summer than a hosta that is divided after the leaves have appeared. However, hostas can be divided almost any time of the year, as long as you protect summer divisions from heat and lack of moisture during the summer, and protect fall divisions from winter damage by covering them with a thick layer of mulch.