How to Grow Hosta (Plantain Lily) Indoors

potted hosta

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Hostas are beautiful, shade-tolerant plants with green, waxy leaves and a wide variety of foliage colors. These perennials with rhizomatous roots reach maturity in about five years and are typically planted in spring or fall. Though hostas are traditionally grown outside in gardens, they can make great houseplants if grown in containers under proper conditions. Unlike most other houseplants, hostas require an annual dormant period in chilled conditions in order to thrive. But if you can provide for its needs, hosta can be a more carefree plant when grown indoors, where it is less susceptible to pests and diseases.

Be cautious about where you grow your hostas indoors, as they are toxic if ingested by dogs or cats.

Flower pots of Hosta plants in an English garden

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Hosta in a pot on a balcony.


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A shot of some hosta plants in terracotta pots.

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 Common Name  Hosta, plantain lily
 Botanical Name  Hosta spp.
 Plant Type  Herbaceous perennial
 Toxicity  Toxic to dogs and cats
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Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Hostas Indoors

Can You Grow Hosta Inside?

Hostas are not common houseplants, but they can certainly be grown indoors under the right conditions. They are not temperamental plants, and often are less affected by pests and diseases when grown indoors. But these perennial plants need an annual dormancy period of at least six weeks at temperatures below 42 degrees Fahrenheit. You can over-winter the hostas in your garage, outdoors, or in a spare refrigerator, but don't be alarmed if the leaves drop off during dormancy, as this is normal.

The hosta genus is comprised of many species and cultivars, ranging from delicate plants with tiny leaves to giants that are several feet across. Thus, there is a hosta appropriate for just about any space you have available. Experienced growers generally report better indoor results with the varieties that have thicker, glossier leaves. Some small varieties that fit this bill include 'Frosted Mouse Ears' (4 to 6 inches tall), 'Cracker Crumbs' (6 to 8 inches), and 'El Nino' (12 to 15 inches). If you have the space, you can also try 'Sunshine Glory' (24 inches tall), and the giant 'Sum and Substance (36 inches tall and up to 60 inches wide),

How to Grow Hosta Indoors

Sunlight

In general, hostas are shade-loving plants. This makes them well suited for indoor growing, where light conditions are usually somewhat dim, especially during the winter months. However, few plants will tolerate complete deep shade, and hostas are no exception. Look into the specific light requirements of your variety. Green-leaved varieties of hostas are the most tolerant of deep shade, though even these prefer some filtered light. Variegated varieties are best suited for part sun—three or four hours, while yellow-leaved hostas can do well with as much as six hours of daily sun. As is true of garden hostas, indoor hostas will appreciate some shelter from the sun during the peak of the day.

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

Temperature and Humidity

Indoors or outdoors, hostas are not overly concerned about the environment in which they are kept. Aside from the aforementioned need to provide them with about six weeks of cold temperatures, they should thrive just fine in the ambient temperature and humidity level of your home.

Watering

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

When you move the plants to colder temperatures to simulate winter dormancy, you can cut back on the watering schedule to once per month and water lightly at those times.

Fertilizer

Use a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season, and then continue to fertilize hostas 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 plants to harden off.

Pruning and Maintenance

Hostas don't require much pruning, as the leaves will fall off during the induced cold-temperature dormancy period. Wilted or yellowing leaves can be plucked off as they appear. If your plant should send up flowers, cut them off after they are done blooming to make more room for growth.

Container and Size

The proper container size depends on the size of your hosta variety. 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 12 and 18 inches for most hostas. No matter which size of pot you choose, make sure it has a drainage hole in the bottom. Plastic, ceramic, or clay pots all work equally well.

Potting Soil and Drainage

A well-drained commercial potting mix is ideal for container-grown hostas. Do not pot up hostas using ordinary garden soil, which is likely to drain poorly and may contain pathogens and pests,

Potting and Repotting Hosta

Hostas grown permanently in containers may need to be repotted at the beginning of the growing season—the rhizomatous roots spread rather quickly. If the root clumps are pressing against the sides of the container, it's time to repot. If, however, you are transferring hostas from the garden into pots for temporary indoor display, repotting is generally unnecessary.

Moving Hostas Outdoors for the Summer

While there's no particular time during which hostas should be moved outdoors, the early spring works well because, with luck, the spring rains will keep the soil nice and moist.

Considerations

If the potted plants have been put into dormancy, don't expect them to begin new growth until outdoor temperatures remain above 42 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you move actively growing plants outdoors before it is sufficiently warm, they may return to dormancy.

When to Bring Hostas Back Inside

Again, there's no particular time during which you should return your hosta plants to the indoors. Hostas can withstand temperatures up to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so even winter doesn't pose a threat because of the plant's ability to go dormant. If you live in an area that has a cold winter, you can leave the plants outside until they go dormant (at least six weeks of temperatures below 42 degrees Fahrenheit) and bring them back in to reactivate them.

FAQ
  • Is it easy to propagate hostas?

    Hostas can be propagated by seed or cuttings, but most houseplant gardeners reproduce new plants by dividing the rhizomatous roots and replanting the sections. Propagated this way, new plants will reach maturity within a single growing season.

  • What plant pests are common to hostas?

    Watch out for pests; even indoors, slugs and snails love these plants. They tend to chew small holes in the leaves at night. The adult black vine weevil has also been known to enjoy hosta leaves. Diseases such as anthracnose and crown rot can occur in overly warm and wet conditions, though fungal diseases are less problematic with indoor container-grown plants.