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Hostas enchant in the garden bed or in the tub with their foliage. Plant lovers often don't know if, and if so when, they should prune a hosta. Plantopedia has the answers.

Cutting - yes or no

In principle, hostas can be cut. As a rule, this is limited to topiary and measures to regulate height and/or width. The latter is particularly useful when hostas are planted in a bucket and they take up too much space due to too voluminous growth. Dense growth of internal parts of the plant can also reduce the supply of light, resulting in drying out with thinning out, which results in an unsightly appearance. The sweetheart lily, as this agave plant is also called, can and should even be cut occasionally. Important here are the questions of when and how.


Before the growth period begins in May, a cut should only be made under certain conditions and the following parts of the plant:


If hostas have retained soggy, perhaps rotten leaf stalks from the winter, or if the leaves are frostbitten or dried out, they should be cut off in April before the start of the growing season. They take away the nutrients and energy from healthy parts of the plant, which the hosta urgently needs for growth and, above all, for flowering. It is advisable:

  • Generally withered or otherwise damaged foliage should be cut off continuously between spring and late summer/autumn
  • Cut at the end of the stem, because without the leaf it has no function and continues to draw nutrients

Shape and clearing cut

The best time to prune hostas into shape and allow more air to pass through is spring when the growing season is approaching. To achieve improved shape and ventilation, simply cut the leaf stalks at the bottom if possible. For aesthetic reasons, it is advisable to cut the outer leaf stalks from bottom to top in order to create an even, slimmer image. To clear out the interior of the plant, it is usually sufficient to cut off just a few leaf stalks.


When the blossoms of hostas have withered in August/September, many a hobby gardener believes that the perfect time for cutting has come. That is only partially true.

Cut off faded flowers

Ideally, cutting in summer/late summer should be limited to withered flowers at most. It is advisable to cut them off, as they unnecessarily deprive the plant of nutrients when they are withered, but do not contribute to the increased supply of nutrients.

The following should be considered when pruning flowers:

  • Use sharp cutting tool
  • Be sure to disinfect the cutting tool beforehand (increased humidity from September otherwise increases the risk of infection)
  • Ideal: quickly cut off the flowers as soon as they have withered
  • Always cut off the entire flower stalk
  • Cut should be made near the ground
  • Never pull out the stem - this can result in the loosening of the roots

Tip: Especially with hostas that are planted in tubs, withered flowers and stems should be removed, because there are usually significantly fewer nutrients available than in the garden soil or an increased fertilizer application would be necessary.

Stronger pruning

A stronger pruning should definitely be avoided in summer. During this time, the Funkie already starts to form buds. Anyone who prunes more at this time of year risks a flowerless following year. In addition, the hostas reduce their nutrient supply after a more extensive pruning because fewer parts of the plant have to be supplied. In the worst case, this means that the plant loses resistance for the upcoming winter and can even die. Of course, no extensive pruning should be done before the flowering period at the end of May/June.

Light topiary

If you really want to use the scissors because the hosta seems too voluminous, you can make a slight correction to the shape after flowering. The following should be observed here:

  • Prune only if missed in spring before growth begins
  • Only shorten the leaf shoots
  • Cut off only as much as absolutely necessary
  • Restriction purely to lateral shoots that determine the volume
  • Always cut from the lower petioles to the upper ones (for an even look)
  • The earlier in the summer you cut, the better the hostas collect energy and strength for the winter months


Particular caution is required when cutting in the autumn months. The leaves of the hosta serve as a natural cold/winter protection. After the first frost, the leaves bend down and effectively encase the base of the plant and the root area, resulting in protection against the cold. If they were cut off, in the worst case hosta could freeze to death, although they are officially classified as hardy. There are also other reasons why they should not be cut during the autumn period:

  • Pretty accents with leaf embellishments
  • Provide winter quarters for numerous insects under the leaves
  • Privacy screen for overwintering insects from natural predators

cutting off the leaves

If brown, dead leaves appear, they can be removed in the autumn months before the first frost, although the plant does not suffer any disadvantages from cutting them off, because the nutrient supply is now slowly going down to a minimum anyway. If you still want to cut them off, you should definitely provide protection against the cold. This is laid in a thick layer over the root area on the ground. Examples of cold protection are:

  • straw
  • brushwood
  • pine needles
  • bark mulch
  • leaves

Tip: Do not forget that the formation of buds in the fall has already occurred. This is no longer effective on dead, brown leaves, but care should be taken to ensure that healthy leaf stalks are not accidentally injured or even severed.

radical cut

If the hosta looks weak, has suffered severe damage from an infestation, for example, or is no longer growing as desired, a radical cut can work wonders. This should only be done at the beginning of autumn in October and should be seen as an exception. The radical cut is always to be seen as the "last" help, since there is an increased risk that hostas, depending on the degree of weakness, will no longer sprout.

This is how the correct procedure for a radical cut looks like:

  • Cut off all leaf shoots to about two centimeters above the ground
  • Always make the cut at an angle (so that moisture can drain off (promotes wound healing)
  • Only cut in dry weather conditions
  • Provide protection against the cold (see "Autumn - cutting off the leaves")


Even if the winter months are mild and the pruning in autumn or late summer is missed, the hosta must not be pruned during the winter until next April. During this time, you are in a resting phase with your metabolism slowing down. Cutting it off would mean stress for the plant, which it cannot process intensively enough due to its minimal functions. Hobby gardeners run the risk of the hosta dying.

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