How To Prune Hostas: Tips On Cutting Back Hosta Plants

Hosta Plant
hosta leaves
(Image credit: OpheliaX)

Gardeners go for hosta plants because of their lush greenery and shade tolerance. These popular shade plants offer an entrancing variety of foliage, from smooth leaves to puckered leaves, green or yellow or blue leaves, and leaves the size of a quarter to leaves as big as a plate. But pests can attack foliage and make it ragged. And come winter, the foliage of these perennials wilt and die back. These are the times to sanitize your pruners and get to cutting back hosta plants. Read on for information on how to prune hostas.

Can You Cut Back Hostas?

Can you cut back hostas? Yes, there’s no law against pruning hosta plants, and if you decide to undertake the task, your garden will thank you. For example, you can begin cutting back hosta plants if you don’t want the hosta flowers. It may seem odd to snip off the flowers from an ornamental, but keep in mind that the glory of hostas is their foliage. Some find that the blossoms distract from the glorious mound of overlapping leaves. These gardeners snip off the flower's stems as they appear. On the other hand, the blossoms are delicate and some smell heavenly. If you decide to let the plants flower, don’t snip them off until they begin to wilt.

When to Cut Back a Hosta

When to cut back a hosta depends on why you are cutting back hosta plants. You may have noticed that pests love hosta as much as you do: snails, slugs, rabbits, and even deer dine on it occasionally, leaving the plant unsightly. You’ll want to start pruning hosta plants as soon as you notice any pest damage. Cleaning up dead leaves helps prevent further damage from slugs and snails, and makes the munched plant look better.

How to Prune Hostas in the Winter

In autumn, hosta leaves turn shades of yellow and gold, then fade. This is the beginning of the plant’s dormant season, so you won’t see any more pretty foliage until spring. This is the time to get rid of dead leaves, so you’ll want to learn how to prune hostas in early winter. Dead leaves are pest-friendly, so you’ll do well to start pruning hosta plants as the foliage fades. Trim back all the leaves and foliage at ground level, then bag it up and dispose of it. That helps things look neat in the garden and keeps bugs from overwintering snugly in the dead leaves.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.