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I may be moving in a month or two--can I dig up my hostas to take?

Esther-B, Zone 7b
October 18, 2018

Only a couple of my hostas are dormant, but after near freezing temps tonight, more may get dormant fast. Some of them are in pots, most are still in the ground. I just saw a condo today in another state and loved it. But I would bring my hostababies with me. The place has a nice garden area with some shade, perfect for hostas and heuchies. I hope the sale goes through and I get it. It will then get some REAL landscaping.

If I get this place (sure hope I do), how would I move my hostas? Dig them up from possibly frozen ground and wrap the roots in moist newspaper? Pot them? What....?

Comments (17)
  • Terry Haselden (7b, SC)

    I would dig them up and put them in plastic pots temporarily. You could go ahead and plant them immediately after the move, or leave them in the pots until spring.

  • windymess z6a KC, Ks

    How exciting for you, Esther! I hope it all works out too. So, you won’t have to worry about those out-of-control landscape workers anymore?

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    keep in mind.. no matter how you do it.. you have to carry the pots ... and that kinda became a problem.. when i ended up with 1650 of them ... lol ...

    since you tend toward smalls.. you can jam more than one per pot ....

    you arent growing them in the pots.. you are using the pots as a holding cell.. so they dont need to be potted for the long term .....

    good media will make them lighter ....

    you really need to get out of the city.. i wish you luck ... and hope you do .... may we know how far south you are going ... what state??? ..God help you .. if you are going north... lol ...


    Esther-B, Zone 7b thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • zkathy z7a NC

    Have you talked to the managers of the new condo about their landscaping policies? Your current experience is not unusual. A friend was the head of his condo association and he said he didn’t personally care if someone wanted to landscape in front of their unit, but the bylaws forbade it and he was elected to enforce the bylaws. I hope you have found a wonderful condo with a hosta loving management!

  • Babka NorCal 9b

    Get your ducks in a row and find out the situation at the new place. How soon will the new sale go through? The ground doesn't FREEZE solid with the first frost or freeze temps...that takes awhile weeks/months. They forecast the AIR temps and it takes awhile for the ground to catch up.

    Some hosta sellers just refrigerate the roots in some slightly damp peat moss over the winter dormancy time. You might be able to fit them all in one bag and put them in a cold shaded place until you can plant them in spring.

    How exciting to find a new place considering all your past travails.


  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    I drove down to Baltimore this past week. Also zone 7b. I found a condo I fell in love within a small development of a few staggered rows of units. One of my criteria was that it HAD to allow cats. Another was it HAD to have garden space. This place fulfills both. I hope the sale goes through. It's an elderly couple who I think want a place all on one level due to husband's health. This place has 2 floors. Hopefully the financial sheet of the condo association checks out and the couple decide to sell it to me. There is a small patio in front where I could have pots or build a narrow tiered raised bed, or hang pots on the inside of the wall. There is a fenced garden and patio in the back, can even plant veggies. The garden is shaded in the evening by some small trees on the other side of the fence, has a SE exposure, but seems to get light in the daytime. Looks perfect for hosta/heuchies. The garden is about 6' deep and 20' long. I told the couple I was a gardener and they said the garden does need some TLC from someone who would appreciate it. It also has a little fish pond the size of a large car tire. No "landscape workers" do anything in either the patio in front or the backyard garden, so that's good. Please include me in your prayers that this sale goes through to provide me a new peaceful home.

    I just got rid of a bus-sized RV which decided to simply homestead on my block instead of paying rent or mortgage somewhere. The occupants had simply put sheets over the windshield, parked their huge RV (taking up 3 precious parking spaces) and claiming that section of the street, not moving their vehicle. I photographed this mess and forwarded it to my councilman, who sent the pics to the right authorities. In the street behind me, some guys decided to make an illegal curb cut to their apartment driveway, robbing others of 2 precious parking spaces, and open a shuttle bus repair facility right there in the driveway and in the street in front of their building. Never mind the hazardous waste of the liquids they were using or the open garbage cans full of dangerous discarded stuff. I photographed them, too and sent it to the councilman. I think they're gone now, too. Just add this to the general bummification of a once beautiful neighborhood, along with the crones rummaging through peoples' recycling and garbage cans.

    Some of my hostas are growing in pots, the rest are in the ground. I don't know if the sale will actually go through, you never do, so I don't know when I'd actually be moving. With my luck, right in the worst of winter. So let me get this straight---I should dig up my hostas and heuchies (regrettably, I'm gonna leave the thorny rose bushes, irises (they spread too much), perennial salvia, etc.) and put them in heavy contractor bags with damp peat moss? Could I use mulch? I have 2 huge bags of mulch I never spread on my garden this year due to my injured hamstring (thank G-d, better now) I could use.

  • ademink

    If you haven't already done so, I would label everything now so you know where it is when it's dormant. That way if you have to dig in the middle of winter, you know where to find everything! Mulch would likely work. I don't think you'll kill them either way. You want to make sure the roots are somewhat protected and that they aren't just pressed against the plastic and freezing outside. The trick is not too dry and not too wet.

  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    Only about 1 of my 3 dozen hostas is completely dormant, dry, and not a touch of green. The rest are still mostly green, even making new leaves. Heuchies, too. It could take a while to sell my place, which I have to do before buying the new place. I have I.D. tags by each plant, on a 9" high stake, but the "landscape workers" keep stomping on my garden and knocking them down. I just showed my neighbor yet another fallen I.D. stake today, which I straightened. Perhaps I should stick a plastic stake beside each hosta and heuchie, which hopefully would be tall enough to see if we get any high snow, so I could then dig. Or should I purchase some 10" plastic pots and pot up the rest of my hostas and heuchies? Eight of my hostas already grow in pots, and one of the dozen heuchies.

  • sandyslopes z5b n. UT

    I'd want to pot them up. I'd wait as long as I could, checking weather forecasts, then rush around like mad getting them into pots, considering them treasures I don't want to leave behind. If you're already able to grow others in pots you should be able to keep these alive.

    It sounds like you're ready to move and that you've found a really nice place, so you'll make it happen, whether it's this one or another. Cats and plants are a MUST HAVE and not too much to ask for. .....Good luck! Living in a place you like makes a world of difference!!

    Esther-B, Zone 7b thanked sandyslopes z5b n. UT
  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    I agree with sandyslopes..I'd pot them up..they'll be safe and ready to go..less work for later when it's moving time..

    Esther-B, Zone 7b thanked nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis
  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    I want to escape to a greener, more peaceful place, and think I've found it. I want to be able to pack my stuff and LEAVE this decaying city behind on short notice. Ken Adrian suggested I transport my hostas and heuchies wrapped in wet newspaper. Problem with that is, it takes time to dig up plants and wrap them, and once my place is sold and the closing is over, I want to buy that place I fell in love with and get things moving (literally) down there FAST. What size pot would you folks suggest I use for my larger hostas with well established roots? I'm talking about plants perhaps 24" in diameter. And what about the smaller plants--how big a pot?

    I would put the potted plants out on the patio of the new place (please G-d, the sale should go through) for the winter, near the patio door. That's pretty sheltered. There are tall wooden privacy fences on 2 sides of the patio, the glass doors and windows on the third side and a piece of galvanized fence mostly covered by shrub branches from the other side on the 4th side.

    Do you think 10 or 12" plastic pots would be sufficient to protect the plants from the winter? The new zone would be 7b, same as the old zone.

    Thanks for all your input, I really appreciate it.

  • beverlymnz4

    It all depends upon how much roots you dig up. Use the smallest possible pot that fit the roots After you pot them, keep them wet. I have been known to wind up the roots a squeeze them in a pot. Then I squeeze in as much light weight potting soil as possible to help keep them wet.

    Esther-B, Zone 7b thanked beverlymnz4
  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    Beverly, et al: What is "lightweight potting soil"? I'd like to know so I can order some from Amazon before I start digging up hostas. I have no idea when my place will sell so I can complete my purchase of the Baltimore condo, but I think I should start potting up the hostas and heuchies I intend to take with me.

    I intended to dig up all my hostas, like I said, before the ground freezes and snow covers the ground, so the I.D. tags would not get separated and I don't have to freeze my behind off out there digging. For one of my largest hostas, Paradise Island, could I get away with a 12" plastic growers pot? My huge Paisley Print is already in a pot. Right next to it is a very big Blue Jay. Also a 12" pot? Some of the teeniest minis, like Pure Heart, are already in groups in an 18" ceramic pot. I guess Marilyn Monroe, a big girl, should also be put into a 12" pot? Ripple Effect is a bit smaller, but still biggish---a 10" pot?

    Now, I have Virginia Reel, High Society, Hyura Urijiro, and a couple of other small hostas---should they be put into a BIG plastic pot as a group? Then I have Raspberry Sundae, got very big this year--10" pot?

    THANKS to all, very much, for your advice in this. I don't want to lose my 36 lovingly selected and cared for hostababies!

  • windymess z6a KC, Ks

    Esther - I think you definitely need to get out of NYC! I do order from Amazon, and other online vendors, but I can't imagine having to order potting mix like that!

    There's a whole other world out here... hope you can make that move!

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    im still mystified when you talk that your zone 7 soil freezes solid ..... and if it does not.. you can dig them whenever during winter.. if you happen to know where to dig ....

    pot size.. just to hold over until spring is not that big a deal ...just get it big enough to get the roots comfortably in there ... i would are root all dirt off.. and use only a quality media ... keep in mind.. the smaller the pot.. the less it weighs ... especially when you are hoiking them cross country ....

    many nurseries have recycle bins.. where you can get plastic pots for free ....

    insure that whatever media you buy.. it does NOT have fert in it ... this is no time of year.. to be fert'g plants ....


    Esther-B, Zone 7b thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    Thanks, Ken. I considered approaching my local nursery to get some free pots, but...what if the pot had an HVX infected hosta previously growing in it? And, it's usually Miracle Go which has the soils mixed with fertilizers. I'd just be careful not to choose a variety which has fertilizer. So, can you please tell me what are "lightweight soils"? Perlite has no nutrients or anything, for example.

  • zkathy z7a NC

    Most commercial potting souls are lightweight. But most of them have fertilizer. How about pine ark fines? Nothings lightweight when it’s wet.

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