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Re: dividing mature hosta

Denise and Bruce,

I think your different perspectives on rather to divide or not to divide
is based on your final use of a hosta. Bruce propagates hostas and
therefore is interested in increasing the number of hostas he has in his
nursery. The view that a hosta should not be divided is usually held by
people that want the largest most mature specimen possible to display in
their garden. Both views are equally valid.

Here is the history of H. 'Sagae' in my garden:

In June of 1996 I bought two five division clumps of hosta 'Sagae' from
Alex Summers(name dropping again). As soon as I got them home I divided
them into ten single division plants and planted them about two feet
apart in a bed under a 22 inch diameter water oak. This area has heavy
shade all day and some competition from the water oak roots. This past
summer(1999) marked the three year anniversary of my planting of these
10 single division H. 'Sagae'. These single division hostas have each
grown into 6 or 7 division crowns over this three year period. If I were
to dig these 10 H. 'Sagae' and divide them into single division crowns I
would have about 65 individual crowns. I expect each of these 10 crowns
of Sagae to become 8 or 9 division crowns in the summer of 2000 and I
may divide a few for of them for propagation and leave the rest as large
clumps for display. I will still have to move these large undivided
crowns because they need more room. The act of moving large crowns sets
them back a little even if they are not divided.

Sagae in not a very rapid multiplier. (in my garden)

If I had used a rapidly multiplying hosta like H. 'Diamond Tiara' and
started out with 10 single divisions in 1996, I might now have 10 clumps
of Diamond Tiara  each consisting of 25 or 30 divisions. This would mean
I would have had from 250 to 300 single divisions of Diamond Tiara in
the summer of 1999. If you are growing hostas for sale or if you want to
landscape large areas with multiples of single cultivars division is a
good way to go.

This information is old news to long time hosta people like Bruce Banyai
and many other members of HostaOpen. I am new to hostas and only started
collecting in 1993. It takes years of watching hostas to get a feel for
how hostas grow when they are divided Vs. undivided. After 7 years I am
only now getting a first hand understanding of the dynamics involved.

The question of whether to divide or not to divide depends on what it is
your are trying to achieve with your hostas.

The fact that a hosta after 10 years or so in the same location does not
continue to put up new divisions at the same rate as younger hosta will
is a whole other topic. Hostas that have never been divided continue to
develop character in ways only very old hostas can. I can't go there
because I have not been watching hostas grow first hand for a long
enough time.

Feedback is welcome,

Dan Nelson
Bridgeville DE
zone 7
----- Original Message -----
From: <bbanyai@herc.com>
To: <hosta-open@mallorn.com>
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 11:34 PM
Subject: dividing mature hosta

Denise,if you divide a big old clump of a cultivar or species that is
growing, yes, it will set it back a bit and it will have to recover. but
for most aggressive growers, including fortunei, small ones like Golden
Tiara, Gold Drop, lemon Lime, etc the only determining factor in their
regrowth is moisture. If you keep them moist after dividing, they hardly
know what hit them

Hope that helps - I did present a seminar at the Hosta College several
years back that someone typed into the Cincinnati Daylilly/Hosta Society
web site,  that has more info. I will get the reference and give it to


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