When And How To Fertilize Hostas

I love hostas. They’re one of my favorite plants to grow in shady spots, especially on the north-facing sides of my home as a ground cover. They grow nice, dense foliage and send up awesome white flowers in the summer. Knowing how and when to fertilize hostas is an important element in growing this lush, shade-loving plant. You can sometimes get away with not fertilizing them, especially if you mulch with leaves in the winter, but fertilizer will help them grow healthy and strong. Fertilizing your hostas once or twice a year with a balanced fertilizer will help your plants to produce lush foliage and beautiful blooms.

What is the best fertilizer for hostas?

The best fertilizer to use on hostas is a slow-release fertilizer with a balanced ratio, such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-10, applied in the spring when new growth is beginning to develop. 10-10-10 fertilizer is a balanced fertilizer that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It is often used to provide a general-purpose fertilizer for all types of plants, particularly for lawns and gardens. For hostas, it’s best to avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen, as this can cause them to become leggy and a bit more prone to diseases. If you suspect your soil is nitrogen-rich, I recommend using the 5-10-10 slow-release fertilizer just so you don’t wind up causing fertilizer burn.


When should you fertilize hostas?

It is recommended to fertilize hostas twice a year, in the spring and summer. It is important not to over-fertilize, as this can cause excessive growth and can make the plants more susceptible to disease. The best time of year to fertilize hostas is in the spring when new growth is beginning to emerge. Fertilizing in the spring will give the hostas a boost of nutrients just as they begin to grow. It is also important to fertilize again in midsummer, as this will help the hostas stay healthy and vigorous during the summer months.


Avoiding fertilizer burn when fertilizing hostas

Fertilizer burn is a condition that can affect a hosta plant when too much fertilizer is applied. Symptoms of fertilizer burn include discolored or spotted leaves, yellowing or browning of the foliage, wilting, root rot, salt ‘crust’ on the soil, and stunted growth. In some cases, the plant may even die if the burn is severe enough. Fertilizer burn can be avoided by following the recommended application rate on the fertilizer package, or by using an organic alternative such as compost.


Fertilizer burn can be prevented by following these steps:

  1. Read and follow the directions on the fertilizer package. Do not apply more fertilizer than what is recommended for your plant.
  2. Water the soil around the plant before applying fertilizer unless instructed not to on the fertilizer’s packaging.
  3. Apply fertilizer to the soil, not directly to the plant.
  4. Avoid applying fertilizer during periods of high temperatures.
  5. Use a slow-release fertilizer on hostas, which releases nutrients over a longer period of time. This helps prevent overloading your plant with nutrients.
  6. If you suspect fertilizer burn, flush the soil with plenty of water to help distribute any excess fertilizer that may be present.
Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!