How to Grow Hostas Indoors

Hostas in a garden
Flickr/ChiotsRun

Hostas are beautiful, shade-tolerant plants with green, waxy leaves and a wide variety of foliage colors. Though hostas are traditionally grown outside in gardens, they can make great houseplants if grown in containers under proper conditions.

To thrive indoors, hostas require care and attention. They grow best in shade, need plenty of water and are susceptible to slugs, snails, and even viruses—although these will hopefully be less of a problem indoors.

Botanical Name Hosta 
Common Name Hosta
Plant Type Houseplant or perennial
Mature Size 0.75 to 1 feet high, 1 to 1.5 feet wide
Sun Exposure Part to full shade
Soil Type Organically rich, well-drained
Soil pH 6.5 to 7.5
Bloom Time July to September
Flower Color Violet
Hardiness Zones 3 to 8
Native Area Northeast Asia

How to Grow Hostas Indoors

Gardeners looking for a temporary, beautiful houseplant can hardly do better than the hosta for variety, attractiveness and harmony. Watch out especially for pests—even indoors–slugs and snails love these plants.

Because hostas are perennials, they need at least six weeks of temperatures below 42 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the plants to go into dormancy. Therefore, even indoor plants need to be taken care of differently during the winter months. You can over-winter the hostas in your garage, outdoors, or in a spare refrigerator, but make sure you don't let the plant freeze. Don't be alarmed if the leaves drop off during dormancy, as this is normal.

Make sure you have the right size of pot for your hosta. This will depend on the size of your plant. A small or dwarf-sized hosta can fit into a relatively small container, but larger varieties will need enough room to grow. To ensure this, choose a pot that's as least as wide as the expected mound of foliage, which is generally between 1 and 1.5 feet for hostas. No matter which size of pot you choose for the hosta, make sure it has a drainage hot in the bottom.

Light

Hostas need both sun and shade to survive. Hostas are shade-loving plants, so all varieties require some degree of shade. However, look into the specific light requirements of your variety; some hostas grow best in total shade, while others prefer partial sun. For example, green-leaved varieties of hostas are the most tolerant of shade, while variegated hostas are more likely to burn in full sun.

Signs that your hostas are getting too much sun (or not enough water) are brown tips at the outside edges of the leaves and a dull color of faded spots in the leaves.

Water

These plants, especially when grown in containers, require lots of water. Keep them moist at all times by watering frequently, especially on hot days. Make sure that drainage is adequate, however—they grow well when moist but not when wet.

Temperature

Hostas grown in containers will grow well in the same type of temperature as your home—temperate, moderate heat will be just fine.

Soil

A well-drained commercial soil mixture is ideal for container-grown hostas.

Fertilizer

Use a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season, and then continue to fertilize the hosta every other week with a water-soluble fertilizer. Hostas grown in containers need slightly more fertilizer because they lose nutrients through frequent watering. About four months before the hostas are going to go into dormancy, stop fertilizing to allow the hosta to harden off.

Propagation

Hostas can propagate by seed or cuttings, but most houseplant gardeners grow hostas from seeds in containers. You can also propagate hostas in either the early spring or the early fall by division. Cut off some of the roots of a mature plant, shake off the old soil and replant at the same depth.

Repotting

Container hostas may need to be repotted at the beginning of the growing season. However, because these are temporary plants due to the dormant winter period, repotting is generally unnecessary.

Varieties

One of the greatest advantages to growing container hostas is the sheer diversity of the plants. Many hostas are prized for their varied colors and leaf textures. For instance, the “Undulata” has green leaves with variegated white centers, while the “June” leaves are blue-green. Hostas grown in containers can be especially great in floral arrangements.

There are hundreds of varieties of hostas with flowers ranging from green to yellow to blue, either bell or trumpet-shaped. There is also a wide variety in the leaves and in the sizes of the plants. There are hundreds of different hosta cultivars in almost every shape and color imaginable, and gardeners continue to breed new types of hosta all the time. These specialty types of hosta generally are available in garden catalogs or nurseries, so do some research and find which varieties are right for your home's decor.