Hosta ‘Patriot’: A Comprehensive Guide to Growing and Caring for Hostas

Hostas, known for their lush foliage and vibrant colors, are a popular choice among garden enthusiasts. Among the many varieties available, Hosta ‘Patriot’ stands out with its striking leaves that feature a deep green color bordered by a crisp white margin. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential aspects of growing and caring for this beautiful hosta.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Like any plant, hostas have specific requirements to thrive. To ensure the best results, provide a growing temperature of around 60°F, keeping it above freezing. Hostas prefer soil with a slightly acidic pH level, ranging from 5.8 to 6.5. Additionally, it’s crucial to maintain an electrical conductivity (EC) level of 1.5 to 2.0 using the pour-through method.

Achieving Optimal Fertility

Hostas greatly benefit from a light application of liquid fertilizer during early spring. A recommended option is a liquid fertilizer with a composition of 20-10-20, containing 50 ppm nitrogen. Liquid feed is the safest option as granular fertilizers can harm plant crowns if applied too close. Alternatively, a top-dressing of slow-release fertilizer can be used. Keep in mind not to over-apply fertilizers to avoid root rot. During the fall, minimal nitrogen application is sufficient to allow the plants to go dormant.

Ensuring Successful Vernalization

Hostas require vernalization, a process of exposing them to temperatures below 40°F for 10-12 weeks. This cold treatment is essential for proper growth and development.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Aphids, spider mites, thrips, slugs, and rodents can pose problems for hostas. To prevent aphids, applications of Rycar, Endeavor, and BotaniGard are effective. For spider mites, options like Avid, Floramite, Sultan, and predatory mites provide effective control on susceptible hosta varieties. Thrips can be managed with Mainspring, Conserve, Orius, and predatory mites. To prevent slug outbreaks, ensure good greenhouse sanitation before potting. For rodent control, the use of bait or traps is recommended.

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Potting and Transplanting

When potting hostas, it is crucial to provide a well-drained, bark-based, soilless mix. Use a pot size that corresponds to the size of the roots, as adequate space promotes optimum growth and quality. When transplanting, spread or fan out the roots to encourage new growth. In the spring, keep hostas at 50°F for the first two weeks to promote root growth before gradually lowering the minimum temperature to 40°F.

Watering and Moisture Management

To promote root development, it’s best to allow hostas to slightly dry out between waterings. Watering early in the morning is ideal. Avoid over-watering and over-feeding, as this can be detrimental to the plants. Keep the soil moist during the early growing season, but allow it to dry out between waterings later in the season. Dormant hostas require minimal water. However, prolonged dry conditions can force hostas into dormancy and reduce plant size the following year.

Planting Level and Shaping

Ensure that the growing points or ‘eyes’ of hostas are at or just below the soil surface. Providing adequate space for hostas to grow naturally is the best method to achieve well-shaped plants without stretching. However, if space is limited, Daminozide (B-Nine) 2500 ppm or Uniconazole (Sumagic) 5 ppm sprays can be applied to reduce petiole stretch. Several applications every 7 days may be necessary. Alternatively, a one-time 1 ppm Uniconazole drench can be used after the first few leaves have expanded.

Lighting Requirements

Long days with ample sunlight encourage new foliage and root growth in hostas. Ensure proper shade for container-grown hostas to prevent sunscald, especially due to higher root zone temperatures and moisture level swings. Using a 30%-50% shade cloth can help reduce sunlight exposure to around 4,000 foot candles, minimizing the risk of sunscald.

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Overwintering Hostas

Potted hostas can be overwintered using different methods. One option is using a cold frame structure, which involves covering larger pots with microfoam and a layer of white copolymer. While this method is cost-effective, it exposes the plants to extreme temperature changes, wind, and moisture once the covering is removed, potentially damaging the foliage and roots.

Another option is to use unheated overwintering structures covered with a white copolymer. This method offers ideal protection from harsh weather conditions while allowing the hostas to develop naturally. In early spring, remove the microfoam and replace it with 50% shade cloth for continued growth. For blue hostas, using a 70% shade cloth can help maintain their blue color longer into the season.

Lastly, minimal heat polyhouses around 35°F are not recommended for potted hostas as they require a prolonged cold treatment to break dormancy. Hostas grown in warm houses may develop faster, but they are more susceptible to damage when exposed to cold temperatures.

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In conclusion, Hosta ‘Patriot’ is a captivating hosta variety that requires specific care and attention to reach its full potential. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can enjoy the beauty of these stunning plants in your own garden. Remember to provide the ideal growing conditions, manage pests and diseases effectively, and ensure proper watering and lighting. With the right care, your Hosta ‘Patriot’ will flourish and add a touch of elegance to your outdoor space.