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Perennials/seperating hostas


Can hostas in full leaf be dug up, seperated and replanted safely? If so should the leaves be left on when replanting?  I have a large plant just full of grass and weed and would like to take this opportunity to seperate and clean out the invaders



Greetings, Carl.

Normally, the ideal time for lifting and dividing hostas is late summer, in August or September. However, you can, in fact, divide hostas at any time from spring through fall if you perform the task correctly.

You can lift the entire clump in full leaf if it is manageable for you. One suggestion that I would make is to use a large garden fork rather than a shovel to lift your plants. Lifting with a shovel often causes inadvertent cutting of the plant, whereas a fork can be more easily inserted at an angle under the plant, which can then be lifted in its entirety without damage. I have already used this method several times this year to achieve exactly what you are trying to achieve - get grass out of plants!

Then use your fork (at this point, when you know the dimensions of the plant and it is partially lifted), it is safe to use a shovel, if you prefer, to complete the lift.

Divide them (with a sharp shovel, if that is easier) into as many sections as you wish, and get them back into the ground promptly. There is no need to remove the leaves, since you will have an intact root system. Removing leaves is a process that is necessary when you are losing a large amount of the root system, which is more common with roses and other shrubs). You may want to prepare your planting holes in advance.

Once you have planted them (possibly with some nice compost) make certain That you keep them well watered. You may in fact find that the hostas do not react at all badly to being lifted, and in fact will enjoy the "breathing room" and refreshed soil.

I hope that I have answered your question, but if my response is in any way unclear, or you require additional information, please feel free to write again.

Best wishes,



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Donna Mack


I am a Master Gardener through the University of Illinois Extension.I can answer questions about pest control, especially voles, rabbits, chipmunks and slugs, and have done so on Dave's Garden Watchdog under the name DonnaMack since 2002. I have a lot of expertise with ornamental grass, hardy roses and old garden roses, minor bulbs such as ornigothalem, chionodoxa and allium as well as most types of lilies. I am knowledgeable about organic methods and I grow perennials, annuals and vegetables from seed.


I have been gardening since 1998 and have raised roses, peonies, annuals and perennials (the latter two from seed), and numerous shrubs and trees, many of which I have planted. I am familiar with many organic techniques and use as many as I can but know the chemical solutions, which are most benign and how to use them. I LOVE gardening, and I get great satisfaction with helping others so that they reach the state of joy that gardening can bring to those inclined to it.

The American Lily Society

I have numerous entries in Garden Watchdog under the name DonnaMack. I write three to four columns a year for the Kane County Chronicle.

I successfully completed the University of Illinois Master Gardening Program in March of 2013. I did this to augment extensive self study through books (I've probably read 100) and an arts degree, which helps with aesthetics. I am purely an amateur, but one who studies, reads, and documents extensively. My gardening log began in 2000, and has hundreds of entries, so that I can use my successes and failures to assist other gardeners.

Awards and Honors
The University of Illinois created a Team with Work Award for master gardeners who work together to create what they regard as an outstanding project. I won this award as part of a group that created "The Idea Garden", which suggests plants for home growers to attempt to grow. My personal contribution was salvias - ornamental and culinary hardy and tender perennials, which I grew from seed and tended through the season.

Past/Present Clients
I am currently overseeing and performing the maintenance of two large English style gardens in a suburb of Chicago, and recently acquired the management and redesign of a large estate garden(2015.)

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