how to make hostas grow bigger

One question that I see come up from time-to-time is that people want to know how to make Hostas grow bigger. So I’m going to do my best to answer that question in detail!

To achieve maximum growth potential, Hostas need soil that’s rich in organic matter, regular water (at least an inch of water every week), and the right amount of sunlight for the specific variety. If any of these pieces are missing – your Hostas will grow slowly and not get as large.

Step-By-Step: How To Make Hostas Grow Bigger

Fostering Healthy Soil, Rich in Organic Matter

The only way that your Hostas can grow is if they have nutrients to build with. They absorb these nutrients through their roots. Therefore, the best way to provide your plant with steady and available nutrients is to have rich, healthy soil.

Healthy soil is full of micro-organisms. These micro-organisms help to break down organic matter into accessible nutrients that your plants can then absorb.

This is exactly how nature intended this cycle to work, and fostering this kind of environment in your soil will lead to the best results for your plants.

This may sound like a lot of trouble, but once you get your soil on the right track, it’s much easier to keep it that way.

There are several ways to get quality, organic soil:

  1. Don’t use traditional non-organic fertilizers. Non-organic fertilizers will give your plant a quick boost in growth. However, they’re full of additives that can make your soil inhospitable for micro-organisms. For one thing, they can lead to a buildup of salt.

    You also don’t want to eat your Hostas if you use inorganic fertilizers. If you’d like to learn more about how Hostas are edible, I have a whole blog post on it.

    Note: You can feed your plants a couple of times a year with organic fertilizer. It won’t harm your soil. BUT, if your soil is healthy and rich with organic matter, you really don’t need to.
  2. Supplement your soil with organic matter. Put a few inches of finished compost around your plants at least once per year. Spring is the preferable time to do this. Even better, add compost twice a year. Once in Spring, once in Fall.

    Don’t worry if you don’t have a composter. You can buy bags of compost from garden and home improvement stores for pretty cheap.
  3. Disturb the soil as little as possible. Over time, you want to avoid tilling the soil. Tilling is good for loosening up compacted soil. But it disturbs your micro-organism’s habitat. Fortunately, these micro-organisms aerate the soil themselves. So tilling isn’t needed anyway.

    It’s not a problem if you want to till your soil when you first start working on improving it though.

Watering Hostas for Maximum Growth

It’s always nice when plants don’t need much extra attention. Hostas CAN be very low-maintenance plants. But if your Hostas find themselves lacking water, they will not meet your growth expectations. This is crucial to consider when considering how to make Hostas grow bigger.

Hostas NEED water to grow. If they don’t receive the hydration that they require, they’ll literally stop growing. They also won’t flower if they don’t get enough water.

What this means is that you should consider how much water your Hostas are actually getting every week. It might be less than you think.

I’ve known a few people that swear they water their plants several times a week, but their plants consistently look dehydrated.

So, out of curiosity, I’d watch them water their plants. They would take their hose and spray each plant for about 3-5 seconds and move on.

When you only provide a brief watering like this, you’re only wetting the top few inches of soil. And if you’re watering during the day, this water evaporates off rapidly.

So they were doing two things:

  1. They weren’t giving their plants time to absorb the water.
  2. They were encouraging their plants to grow shallow roots.

You want to encourage your plants to grow deep roots. This way, they can pull water and nutrients from deeper in the ground. They’ll be hardier and healthier.

They will only grow deeper roots if there’s moisture down there to access. So you need to water your Hostas long enough for the water to penetrate the ground.

The amount of time will vary by your soil type but aim for 15-25 seconds per plant.

Dig a hole 1-foot deep next to your Hosta after the water soaks in. If it’s moist all the way through, you’ve found a good length of time to water your plants.

If you use a sprinkler, perform the same test after the watering session ends. Dig a foot down and see if the soil is moist throughout. If not, try a longer watering session.

Watering should be done in the early morning. This allows the water to soak in without evaporating off quickly. And it gives your plants ample time to dry off during the day, which will discourage fungal growth.

Finding the Appropriate Sun Exposure

Hostas are well-known for their shade-tolerant nature. But, that doesn’t mean they’ll grow well in Full Shade.

Sunlight makes their foliage denser, healthier, and more vibrant. So when considering how to make Hostas grow bigger, faster, and fuller, think about how to get them the right amount of sun.

Check the recommended amount of sunlight for the specific variety you’re growing. But here are some general guidelines:

Dark green, white, and blue varieties1-2 hours of direct morning sun or all-day filtered sun
Variegated varieties1-3 hours of direct morning sun or all-day filtered sun
Yellow varieties2-4 hours of direct morning sun or all-day lightly filtered sun

I wrote a whole blog post on which Hostas like sun, so check that out if you want to learn more.

These Hostas are in a shade-house that filters harsh direct sunlight throughout the day. Photo by Christin Noelle

Why Are My Hostas So Small?

If you find yourself asking “Why are my Hostas so small?” The answer is probably one of three things.

You Hostas may be small because of their age, breed, or growing conditions. They need time to reach their mature size and some breeds don’t get very big. If you rule out the age and breed as the reason, consider that improper growing conditions will result in stunted growth.

How Long Does It Take For a Hosta To Grow To Full Size?

This depends on the species, but 3 to 6 years is the general range for how long it takes for Hostas to reach their full size. They’ll get there faster if you follow the ideal growing tips that I covered above.

Small breeds reach their mature size quicker than giant ones. Their clumps tend to spread wider than the big ones too. Larger varieties spend more energy growing up rather than out.

So growing these larger breeds will be more of a time investment. But that’s what makes them so remarkable. Good things don’t happen overnight. Get them set off on the right foot by giving them good growing conditions, and watch them thrive.

Do Hostas Grow Bigger Every Year?

Yes, Hostas are perennials so they return every year with new and more growth. After many growing seasons, their root clumps will become so crowded that they will basically stop growing bigger.

With most perennials, you’d need to divide them at this point. However, Hostas don’t actually require dividing.

Which Hostas Grow The Largest?

The current record-holder for the largest Hosta is a Sum and Substance variety that is quite large. It’s 4 feet tall and 10 feet wide!

Generally speaking, though, the Empress Wu Hosta is the largest Hosta selection. Their leaves are colossal at about 28 inches long and 24 inches wide.

Here is a list of some of the largest varieties around and their mature sizes.

VarietyMature Size
Sum and Substance3-4 feet H x 6 feet W
Empress Wu4 feet H x 6-8 feet W
Amos3 feet H x 5-6 feet W
Biggie30-36 inches H x 4-5 feet W
Blue Mammoth3 feet H x 4 feet W
Blackjack30 inches H x 6 feet W
Sagae24-30 inches H x 3-4 feet W
Key West 24-30 inches H x 3-4 feet W
Liberty 24-30 inches H x 4-5 feet W
Frost Giant 24-30 inches H x 5 feet W

How Many Years Do Hostas Live?

In good conditions, Hostas can live for 30 years or more. There are gardeners around with 50-year-old Hostas. What often happens is that they die prematurely because of a rough year.

Maybe a particularly dry and hot year coupled with a cold winter takes them out unexpectedly. You can help prevent this by remembering to provide extra care for them during years with extreme environmental conditions. For instance, give them supplemental water during a drought.

Wrapping Up: How To Make Hostas Grow Bigger

Remember, how to make Hostas grow bigger revolves around three primary things:

  1. Rich healthy soil
  2. Regular watering
  3. Appropriate sun exposure

Getting these things aligned and your plant will thrive and take off in your garden.

Thanks for reading! I hope you got the answers you needed here today. If you did, please consider sharing this post. It helps me a lot.