Should you cut back hostas in the fall? Experts advise on what to do this season

Timing your cut correctly will prompt new growth after the winter has passed – for healthy hostas long into the new year

Hostas in a fall garden
(Image credit: Alamy)

Should you cut back hostas in the fall? Since we are in the first weeks of the season, you may naturally be turning to the list of fall garden jobs that will ensure your yard is ready for winter. And hostas should be at the top of your agenda. 

While there is lots of advice about when to plant hostas, and their abundant benefits, knowing when to cut back your hostas is less often explored. However, garden experts explain that this job is among the most beneficial things you can do this season – to enjoy hostas' greenery long beyond springtime. 

Sharing their flower bed ideas, gardening experts discuss the pros of the process so you will know what to expect in the new year. 

Should you cut back hostas in the fall? 

'You should definitely cut your hostas back in the fall to allow the plant to focus its energy on creating new growth after the winter has passed,' says expert Alex Tinsman from How To Houseplant. Early fall is also a good time to divide any congested hosta plants.

Hostas in a fall garden

(Image credit: Alamy)

Alex explains that hostas are perennial – meaning the leaves will die back in the winter if left alone.

'I like to trim mine back after the first frost as by then the leaves will be wilting and browning, and so the plant will benefit from the trim,' Tinsman says. 'If there are still nice green leaves, I'll leave these as the plant will still be relying on them to store and process energy that goes back into its roots.'

If you notice any leaves that have been particularly damaged by frost, Alex recommends trimming them, too. This will keep your hostas healthy, but it's also a powerful slug control method

'Another benefit of this approach is that any pests like slugs won't be able to nest in those leaves, and they might end up doing even more damage to the plant if left to their own devices,' he adds. 

How do you cut back hostas in the fall?

When cutting back hostas, How To Houseplant's Alex Tinsman shares that he cuts the plant 'right down to the ground' using garden shears [such as these from Amazon]. 

Hostas in a fall garden

(Image credit: Alamy)

The expert allows 'just an inch as a marker' to be sure where the plant is growing (marking its position with a cane is also a good idea). 'Because it gets really cold where I am, I tend to apply a mulch of wood bark to help insulate the plant through the coldest periods of winter,' Alex suggests. 

Expert Carl from Sweet New Earth similarly reinforces that you should start trimming them short in late fall –  especially when you notice them starting to wilt or turning yellow. 'You can trim that back pretty far because hostas grow back fairly easily,' he adds. 

Hostas in a fall garden

(Image credit: Alamy)

When should you fertilize hostas?

You should fertilize hostas in the springtime, so you don't need to worry about this job at this point in the year. In fall, the hostas are moving into dormancy for the winter period, so it's better to wait until the warmer seasons. 

'In Spring, apply a good slow-release fertilizer or a 10-10-10 granular fertilizer [like this one on Amazon],' suggests Alex Tinsman from How To Houseplant. However, he urges us to be careful not to overfertilize, as it can cause the leaves to brown or curl up due to the high nitrogen content. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.