I’ve found a lot of conflicting information on the question: “Do Hostas Spread?” So I’m going to do my best to set the record straight, right now!
Hostas can spread, either through underground runners or seeds. Rhizomatous Hostas that spread underneath the soil are the worst offenders. These varieties will spread almost indefinitely. Non-Rhizomatous varieties will grow in clumps that reach a mature width. These may still spread by seed but this isn’t as difficult to keep up with.
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Which Hosta Breeds Spread?
You’ll be relieved to hear that most popular Hosta varieties do not spread with underground runners. But there are certainly some out there that you might unknowingly stumble upon at the garden center.
Below is a brief list of some of the Hosta species that will spread by Rhizome. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list.
This species is also known as the Small-Leaved Plantain Lily or Siebold’s Plantain Lily. It includes varieties such as:
- Lime Shag
- Silver Kabitan
- Variegated Siebold’s
- Paxton’s Original
Hosta clausa is a Korean-native Hosta that spreads through Rhizomes. It produces purple flowers which never open (strange, right?). Clausa means closed, which refers to these unopened blossoms. Since these blossoms never open, you don’t have to worry about these varieties spreading by seed AND rhizomes.
These are the two primary varieties:
- Clausa (traditional cultivar)
Hosta pulchella is a little-known Japanese species. It’s a small species with thick, rubbery leaves and a nice shiny gloss.
It includes breeds such as:
There are some Hybrid breeds that spread with rhizomes as well. Including:
- Ground Master
- Neat Splash
- Surfer Girl
- Beauty Little Blue
How Do You Stop Hostas from Spreading?
So, how do you stop rhizomatic Hostas from spreading indefinitely?
The easiest way is to install an underground plastic corral around your plants.
- Determine how far out you’re willing to let your Hostas spread.
- Dig a 1-foot deep trench around this area.
- Put the plastic corral in the trench. Be careful to ensure that the ends of the plastic overlap.
- Backfill the trench around the corral. Ensure the plastic stays in place while you do this.
This is the best way to keep them in check without a stronger barrier like a sidewalk, in my opinion. But even so, I’m not a huge fan of plastic corrals in my garden. They’re not foolproof. Runners can still escape.
Also, I like my plants to be free and mingle. Plastic corrals make this more difficult to achieve.
Other Methods to Keep Your Hostas from Spreading
- Every spring, you can dig up your Hosta and divide it in half, or thirds, or whatever. Replant just one of the divisions in the original location. This will continuously slow it down. I cover how to divide Hostas in greater detail in my Hosta Care guide.
- You can also simply plant it in a pot or an above-ground garden bed.
How Fast Do Hostas Spread?
This depends on the species. Fast growers may produce 20 offshoots a year. Slow growers may only produce 4 new plants every year.
So some may only spread by less than a foot each year. Others may spread by 2 or more feet.
Keep in mind, the longer their spreading goes unchecked, the faster they’ll spread. That fast-growing species that produced 20 new offshoots in the past year just might send up 400 new plants the next!
Where Should I Plant Spreading Hostas?
The easiest, and best, way to keep your Rhizomatous Hostas contained naturally is to plant them as edging.
So if you have a garden that is naturally contained by concrete, brick, or some other type of structure, this is a great place to plant these types of Hostas.
You won’t have to worry about dividing them yearly and you won’t have to put in any underground corrals.
How Do Hostas Spread by Seed?
Usually when people ask “Do Hostas Spread?” they’re wondering if they spread underground through runners. But Hostas can also spread by seeds. Whether they drop off and fall right next to the parent plant or a bird carries them half of a mile away.
You might be wondering how bad reseeding is. Is it as much of a problem as Hostas spreading underground?
The answer is that reseeding is easier to contain than spreading Hostas. Some breeds are worse than others, naturally. Some may only have a few seeds in their seed pods, others will have many more.
But, overall, reseeding isn’t as bad. Many of the seeds won’t grow, or they’ll be carried away by birds. Some won’t be able to make it through your mulch. The ones that do sprout and take hold, you can easily just pluck out of the ground.
It hardly compares to the headache of dealing with Hostas that spread by runners, in my opinion.
About Hosta Seedlings
Your Hostas were probably grown from cuttings. They’re quite literally “clones.” This practice ensures that your plant has the exact color, growth, and flower characteristics that you expect from the breed.
Hostas that grow from seeds will NOT share those same characteristics.
It’s like your own kids, sometimes they’re just like you. Other times, they couldn’t be more different from you.
Feel free to grow these Hosta babies. It’s interesting to see what you get sometimes. Just don’t expect them to be like their parents.
At best, you might have an offspring that does something unique and interesting.
At worst, you might have a throwback offspring that’s unremarkable and somewhat reminiscent of a weed.
Don’t feel bad about throwing them in the compost pile.
How To Stop Hostas from Reseeding
If you find yourself consistently dealing with your Hostas reseeding, you CAN do something about it.
Simply snip off your Hosta’s bloom spikes once the flowers are spent.
The flowers are there to be fertilized by pollinators. Below is a picture of a pollinator in action:
Afterward, the flowers dry up and fall off. The stalks remain and seed pods form where the flowers once were.
Over the next couple of weeks, the seed pods will produce seeds inside. While the seeds are forming, the pods are green. But once the seeds are ready to be spread, the pods will dry and turn brown.
By removing the flower spikes after the blooms are done, you’ll still be able to enjoy the flowers without running the risk of your Hostas reseeding.
Tip: Snip the flower stalks below the Hosta’s leaves if you want to avoid having any bare sticks sticking up.
Wrapping Up: Do Hostas Spread?
So now you should know the answer to the question, “Do Hostas Spread?”
My recommendation is that you pick varieties that will make your life easier. Even if that means you have to compromise and not select the exact breed that you had your eyes on.
If you want to fill up a contained garden bed or a large planter, go ahead and plant some Rhizomatic Hostas. But otherwise, I recommend planting varieties that don’t spread with underground runners.
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