krossa-regal-in-potFOR SEASON-LONG COLOR in containers, true annuals (like marigolds or petunias or zinnias) aren’t the only answer. I always keep a few choice hostas ready to do duty as pot plants, carrying them over from year to year in the vegetable garden when it’s empty all winter, then lifting the big clumps out and popping them into pots for use in shady areas spring through fall.

It’s easy, showy, and the hostas don’t seem to mind being put on display. A favorite for this purpose: the classic vase-shaped blue hosta ‘Krossa Regal’. Variegated hostas are especially ornamental, too.

sedum-angelina-in-pot I like to plug in extra bits of golden moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea,’ that have outgrown their place in the garden (shown in the pot up top), or snippets of the gold Sedum called ‘Angelina’ (detail, just above) to cascade over the rim. The salvaged snippets of Lysimachia don’t look like much now, but wait: Soon the top pot, about 30 inches wide, will be full…and I didn’t buy a thing. Recycling at its best.


  1. Layanee says:

    I like hosta in a pot. Maybe I will dig a piece of Krossa Regal and put it in a pot. Thanks for that idea! I have too many pots and not enough bucks!

  2. margaret says:

    Tom is amazing, so talented, and I am glad I am doing what Jekyll did, too. Frankly I put everything in pots–small, young shrubs I just bought for cheap but that aren’t big enough for their permanent places yet; perennials I have too much of (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ one year in window boxes, e.g.); houseplants I am tired of…you name it.
    Why not? (Like the headline said.)
    Glad you agree.

  3. Terri Clark says:

    My friend Tom Hobbs, who is a garden guru here in Vancouver, subscribes to Hostas in a pot- great way to lift and better expose one of the most wonderful plants ever!Of course we do not have the counrty predators ie deer that you all do, but still an excellent idea to elevate one of the best perennials to a more prominent level. One of Gertrude Jekyll’s favs!

  4. Dan Shaw says:

    What a revelation for someone like me! The moveable hosta is going to become a signature of my so-called garden.

  5. Andrew Ritchie says:

    Container gardening is basically the only form of gardening I do, so this post is very encouraging! Last summer I bought really cheap wicker baskets, painted them all a dark gray, lined them with plastic and filled them with various kinds of variegated ivy. They thrived! Each summer brings a new experiment, which is how it should be.


  6. margaret says:

    Welcome, Dan. Yes, I think anything and everything can go in a pot…more on that later. But meantime, so glad to “see” you here.
    Your baskets sound great, and very resourceful. You remind me about ivies…it has been a few years since I got some in the houseplant dept. of the garden center and used them to trail out of my big pots, so I must do that again this year. Thanks.

  7. GardenGuyKenn says:

    I’m so glad to see your potted Hostas! Last year I had several in pots and it gave a bit of flexability in design. I could move the pots around and create a lush green backdrop on the patio when entertaining. The potted Hostas did seem to always be thirsty, so I watered pretty frequently.

  8. Dan Shaw says:

    Can anyone give me tips for when and how to dig up hostas if I want to spread them out .Mine, which came with my house, are all clumped together right now.

  9. margaret says:

    This is the perfect time, Dan, when they are probably not completely leafed out and the weather is still relatively cool and the ground moist.
    And hostas (like daylilies, Siberian irises, and a few other old-time favorites) are pretty indestructible, so don’t be afraid to have at it.
    Depending on how big the clump is, I sometimes lift the whole thing, as I find it easier to gauge where to chop it up further when it’s above ground. If they are an enormous swath that cannot be lifted at once, you’ll have to chop into it with your spade and lift a chunk at a time (and by a chunk I mean as large a section as you can manage, like a foot or a foot and a half in each direction).
    So once you have a big piece out of the ground, you just cut it up…and yes, here’s where some of the shoots will be mashed along the edges where you cut, but that’s unavoidable.
    Observe how all the little plants are knitted together…you can perhaps even use your hands to break apart bits. Examine, and follow your instinct–using the least violent method at each phase to divide.
    I like an old kitchen knife (a big one, like a serrated bread or chef’s knife) for this purpose, and always have one in my toolbag. Or you can simply use a spade (square and flat head is better than curved, cut either will work) and you just position the shovel blade on top of the clump and (eek!) step down firmly.
    You can divide into pieces as small as you like, but I am too impatient to reduce it to tiny babies and wait for the clumps to regrow, so I stick to clumps perhaps 6 inches across.
    Each goes back in the ground and really doesn’t miss a beat, as long as you keep them watered while they settle back in.
    I make it sound like a big deal, but it’s not…and you will love setting the congested clumps free and watching the liberated plants take off.

  10. margaret says:

    Welcome, Claudia. Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery in NC and hosta maniac, is your guy. Read this article by him on heat-resistant hostas on his site.

  11. Claudia Nesbit says:

    I love hostas and want to add some to my landscaping. I live in Florida in Zone 9, do you know the varieties I should plant?

  12. TC says:

    I’m moving some hostas into pots from spots where they weren’t getting enough water. How long do you think they should be left in the pots? I’ve heard they can stay indefinitely if you plant the pot through winter. Also, some time back a blogger friend sent me a small start of Tony Avent’s “Outhouse Delight” hosta, it didn’t survive. Tony claims they’re the “ugliest hosta ever.” I want to try another one but can’t find one anywhere, can you help?

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, TC. I am surprised that Tony isn’t selling ‘Outhouse Delight,’ but I would email Plant Delights and ask them. I can’t leave the pots out (they are clay) in my climate, but perhaps you can. The plants are happy in them for quite sometime…unless the winter is too harsh above-ground. Sometimes I plant in discarded black nursery pots that fit well inside decorative pots, and then I just replant the black pots in my vegetable garden all winter

  13. Linda, "the garden lady." says:

    I am working 8-10 hours daily in the gardens and SEE all that you discuss. Fun to have you as a partner!

  14. Judy says:

    I saw this post back in April, just when I was wondering what to do with that large empty blue pot sitting at the laundry room door. Had the hostas coming up in the ground and could visualize the slugs waiting underground planning their arrival for the feast. What a great solution. Lift the hostas up into the pot, tuck all that extra lysmachia around the edge. I have been enjoying this display every time I take the dog out to walk for all these weeks. The hosta are blooming now and I’ve used the leaves in peony and rose arrengements so far. I think of your idea with gratitude everytime I walk by the pot. Thanks!

  15. janet says:

    I assume that planting the hosta in a pot in the spring, enjoying it all summer, and then planting it in the fall (zone 4, northwest WI) should work just fine, right? That way I can have a potted plant arrangement and also add to the hosta landscape……………..?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Janet. That’s what I do with perennials I use in pots — I put them in the ground (either a permanent spot, or I temporarily plant them in the empty veggie garden if I want to use them again in pots the next year). I have a few really big clumps that I keep for pot use and just lift them from the veggie area in spring and enjoy them in pots all summer and then put them back in the fall int the temporary spot. I’ve been doing this — lift, enjoy in pot, plant again — for many years, and nobody has complained yet. :) See you soon!

  16. pearl says:

    I am so glad to see you recommend this. I love hostas in pots on my shady covered patio. A favorite shady perennial in a pot, and a great companion to the hostas, is Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum”, or variegated False Solomon Seal. I leave the huge pots through the winter just outside the dining room window, water them a little on milder winter days. It is a stunning treat viewing them close up when they break ground with deep rose tips turning soft green and pink, and in the fall when they turn butter yellow.

  17. Kathy M says:

    I am moving more and more of my Hostas into pots because of some very voracious voles who have been making a meal of them. My favorite shade pot combination is Hosta, Fern and Heuchera. Makes a great container all growing season ,foes dormant and comes back in the spring. I tried using some Ivy in the pots but found it was too aggressive and choked out the other plants.
    Getting some lovely rain here today so I can finally stay inside and catch up on some inside chores. The lure of the garden is way to strong at this time of year and my house looks it. Or i could just curl up with a gardening book and make out more garden shopping lists!

  18. Sandi Mcdonell says:

    What a great idea!!! I have been experimenting growing things in pots for a few years and the latest success is the old fashioned orange roadside lilies. I’m in Madison, WI. and I planted them in a pot as thought they were too aggressive for my flowerbed. They made it through the winter just fine. Nature took care of the watering and should be blooming in a few weeks. They are in full bud now. This way I will be able to enjoy them and add the wonderful orange color where I want it.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Sandi. There certainly are unlimited possibilities (and as you say, the pot keeps certain ambitious things in check, too!). See you soon again, I hope.

  19. Susan says:

    Planted three new Hostas in my yard. After digging a well and using the water for irrigation they are very sad looking. Leaves are turning yellow and burning along their edges. Discovered there are very high levels of salt and boron in the water. I was looking for a way to save them and found your blog site. Guess I’m going shopping for pots!

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