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help needed - bought 4 Hostas from Hirts and got only roots and soil?

Robert Elliot
January 25, 2019
last modified: January 25, 2019

I called Hirts and they told me Hostas are dormant during the winter - the part of the plant above the the soil line dies completely every winter and regrows in summer. It says nothing in the description about just getting roots. Would you pay for it if you were sent roots instead of a plant? And do these plants have any chance of growing on my window sill with just Northern exposure? I have a feeling the answer is "no"? The description said they like shade and are low light. Any assistance much appreciated.

Comments (27)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    there should be roots ... the crown .. and apparent buds ....


    taking delivery of bare root dormant plants is not a big deal ...


    dont know where you are ... it would help to know ...


    i would suggest you take delivery in late spring.. when they can be planted directly in the ground ... they really arent houseplants ... and forcing them in winter.. does not make for a pretty plant by mid summer ...


    not familiar with hirts ... but we do have list of our favored vendors ....


    welcome to the hosta forum ... if you stick around.. you might end up with a hundred of them.. soon enough .. lol ...


    ken



    Robert Elliot thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Hostas aren't houseplants. They belong in the garden where they should be fast asleep at this time of year with only their noses showing. It's much easier to grow them from dormant roots than transplanting plants in full growth. If you ordered plants at this time of year that's what you'd expect to get. And yes I'd pay for them as long as they weren't dried out. Ken is in a cold area. In my climate now is a perfect time to plant them. Where are you?

    Robert Elliot thanked floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
  • Robert Elliot

    Ok, thanks for the feedback. I'm in New York City. I could plant them in the park maybe. I'm right across the street from it. Otherwise, might as well just throw them out, I guess. Live and learn...

  • dbarron

    Hirts is also a very very disreputable place to buy anything. You may have only dirt (no non-rotten roots). Just winnow the whole thing and look for crowns and roots, then you can plant the crowns oh..what? maybe 1 1/2 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil? (not a big hosta grower..so take that with some research on your part).

    Robert Elliot thanked dbarron
  • Robert Elliot

    Thanks for the welcome, Ken.

  • Robert Elliot

    Thanks for the heads up, dbarron. The roots look healthy enough. I guess I'll keep one on my windowsill just in case it manages to break the surface. They were only 4 bucks a pop anyway.

  • dbarron

    Err we mean outside. Not on your windowsill, as mentioned they aren't houseplants.

    Robert Elliot thanked dbarron
  • Robert Elliot

    I got that. I don't have an "outside" so figured I'll see if one will grow on the windowsill and throw the other 3 out. Not gonna bother to water 4 until next summer when they probably have no chance inside.

  • Karen S. (7b, NYC)

    Hi Robert,

    Another NYer here, sorry you've had this bad experience. Maybe better late than never to learn, it's usually best to know what you're buying before you buy.

    Pls don't just plant them in the Parks, you don't know if they've had pesticides applied (& folks walk their dogs there) or if they grow invasively,

    If you were sure what you had, you could offer them on Freecycle, but if dormant w/out any roots, I'm not sure what you have, doesn't sound like anything (unless I misunderstand).

    Robert Elliot thanked Karen S. (7b, NYC)
  • Robert Elliot

    Hi Karen. Yeah, I'm just gonna toss them and leave one on the sill to see if it does anything. No biggie. I figured the park idea wouldn't work out - I'd probably get 10 years for planting an 'unknown biological organism' or something, the way things are nowadays ;)

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Although not sure of the legalities involved in planting in a park - might want to research guerrilla gardening - but planting just the hosta roots will present no problems with pesticides or dogs or anything else (do you not think the park workers are using much more serious stuff???) and hostas are not the slightest bit invasive!

    Robert Elliot thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • Robert Elliot

    I'd like to plant them in the park but would feel a bit queasy about it with all the surveillance. You can't really see it most of time - they do a pretty good job of hiding it - but you know it's there. I think there's at least one camera to cover every square inch of the park, many hidden in trees, etc. I imagine there'd be at least one camera - probably more - trained on me as I carried out my mission. After I'm done, I envision a guy in a hazmat suit being sent out to quickly dig up my hostas and deposit them in a toxic waste container. I amuse myself. Probably not too far from the truth, though.

  • dbarron

    Of course, there's the...do you know anyone with a garden?

  • Robert Elliot

    nope - I need more rich friends ;)

  • Babka NorCal 9b

    Grow them on your window sill! It will be fun to see their little noses pop up and unfurl. They will be just fine. Plant them so that the top of the plant (crown is at the surface. Roots down. Keep them barely damp until they begin to grow. They will get elongated shoots and make leaves (the more light the better), then they will just sit there and be green. (or green and white, depending on which ones you purchased.) Dormant hostas sold in big box stores even begin to put up shoots while still boxed, once they get warm.

    They do like to get winter chill hours, and surely you have somewhere to put the pots when they go dormant. A garage, a car port, and balcony?

    I recall several people on the forum who would do that just to have some fun on their window sills, which brings them out of dormancy several months before the ones outdoors ever begin to show up.

    -Babka


  • lindalana

    Plant them now, see what grows. Keep on windowsill till weather gets better

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    i may have over stated what i meant ...


    they can be grown .... indoors... short term ... like the rest of this winter.. and into spring ...


    and then many of us.. grow them in pots .. outdoors like babka above ...


    and then next fall ... just properly store them outdoors for winter ... and enjoy them the following summer ... if all goes well ...


    there is no reason to just throw them away ...


    what i meant when i said they werent house plants... is that they are not long lived.. indoors... due to the requisite dormancy period in winter ...


    ken

  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

    If you are going to plant one in a pot, you can just as well plant the four you have in one bigger pot. Generally that wouldn't be recommended as hostas (especially from an unreliable source) can have a virus that would spread to the others. I think it would be fun to pot it up and see what happens. Moisten your media first. No more water (or very little) until there is growth. Could be fun, don't you think?


  • Robert Elliot

    Thanks all for the advice. Problem is limited space since they came in 4 inch pots and the roots have grown through the pots on the bottom so they will take up at least 4 square inches each. The largest pot I can fit on the window sill is just 6 inches at the base, so they'd probably require 4 individual pots. Anyway, I'll decide one way or another later today. Thanks again.

  • lindalana

    Potted hostas do not mind tight planting. Reminds me years ago when we bought our house in the winter. I was not familar with hostas but found them in a box store in the early spring. So I bought it to decorate new house. Then as spring progressed I found them growing in the yard. It was many years ago and rest is history. ...

    If you can not keep them am sure someone will appreciate them come spring.

  • Robert Elliot

    Update - HI folks, I decided to take your advice and plant all four of the hostas in a 7 inch pot on my windowsill. Bit crowded but they seem to have enough room. The amazing thing is they've already started growing and fast!

    The only one of the four not growing is the one that still had some plant material left above ground (at 4 o'clock). The stems of the other 3 have all grown significantly in just a week and have turned vibrant green. As you can see, the one at 7 o'clock has three new buds coming out of it. The nubs barely broke the surface of the soil when I planted them and they are around an inch high already. Thanks for the advice!

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    nothing like a little playing in the dirt in mid winter.. to pick you up ...


    when spring comes ... come on back.. and we will guide you on planting them outdoors ... after all chance of frost or freeze is gone ...


    ken

  • gardencool

    Now that was funny. Thanks for the comedy routine, Robert.

  • Babka NorCal 9b

    I get that as genuine joy, not a comedy routine. Robert, please take a photo once a week so the cold folks can enjoy the fun of hostas emerging!!!! I am loving this!

    -Babka


  • Robert Elliot

    Will do Babka - thanks.

  • Esther-B, Zone 7b

    Hirts is the supplier if one buys hostas on Amazon, and several other merchandise websites. Not a vendor on my list of hosta vendors. Glad your roots are obviously alive and pipping. Bet you can hardly wait to see the actual plant leafed out.

  • Babka NorCal 9b

    Hey Robert! What do they look like now?

    -Babka

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