6 Best Fertilizers for Hostas | How & When to Use

Hostas, with their vibrant, lush foliage that remains majestic in form for such a large part of the summer growing season, are perfect for beginner gardens and experienced Hosta owners alike! 

Even though caring for Hostas can be forgiving, it is important to understand what your plant needs to live its healthiest life. This includes knowing their nutritional needs. 

Simply searching “Hosta fertilizer” online can lead to endless suggestions and countless opinions. In this article, I have compiled my top six picks of the best fertilizers for Hostas with everything you need to know from when to apply and how much to use. All the hard work is done for you! 

Best Fertilizers for Hostas

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00BKB4LTO&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=theyardandgar 20&language=en US

Best Balanced Fertilizer

Espoma Garden Food 10-10-10

Macronutrients are perfectly balanced to encourage fuller foliage and healthier growth from your Hostas with regular fertilizing throughout the growing season just by using these slow-release granules. 

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B079ZPDKPH&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=theyardandgar 20&language=en US
ir?t=theyardandgar 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B079ZPDKPH

Best Slow-Release Fertilizer

Dr. Earth Premium Gold Fertilizer 4-4-4

All-natural, slow-release granules, suitable for use throughout the Hosta growing season as well as in the rest of the garden. Promotes strong root growth, protects against disease and pests, and improves soil quality. 

Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16

Best Water-Soluble Plant Food

Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16

For use when Hosta plants are lacking in vitality or for nutrient deficient soil. Dissolve this fast-acting formula in water and apply it to the foliage and roots of ailing Hostas for noticeably healthier plants.

Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Hostas 

Making the right fertilizing choice for your Hostas will make the difference between success and an ailing plant. For example, a fertilizer with too much phosphorus can reduce your plants’ ability to take in micronutrients. 

Similarly, an excess of nitrogen can result in soft foliage which makes your plants more prone to disease. 

Here’s a closer look at those all-important macronutrients that plants simply can’t survive without.

N-P-K Ratio for Healthy Hosta Plants 

The best fertilizer for Hosta plants is a slow-release NPK 10-10-10 fertilizer. But what does NPK stand for exactly? 

  • “N” represents nitrogen that helps leaves and stems develop and encourages vibrant green color. 
  • “P” represents phosphorus that aids the roots in taking to the soil and helps with flowering. 
  • “P” represents the potassium and that strengthens plants against disease. 

All fertilizer products have three ‘N-P-K’ numbers that represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium macronutrients included in the total weight. 

So, for a 10-10-10 fertilizer, there is 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, and 10 percent potassium. The remainder of the content is made up of micronutrients and filler compounds.

Ideal Soil pH for Hostas 

The ideal range for soil pH for a Hosta plant is between 6.5 to 7.6 and it’s a good idea to test soil pH with a soil testing kit before planting. 

If acidity levels are too low or alkaline levels too high, you’ll need to amend the soil for optimum growth and plant performance. 

Highly acidic soils can be restored by incorporating limestone into the soil. Whereas, alkaline soil pH can be lowered by adding sphagnum peat, elemental sulfur, or iron sulfate. I find that adding a layer of organic mulch at the end of the growing season helps to increase depleted acidity levels ready for the following year’s growth.

Granules Vs Liquid Fertilizer 

The most used fertilizers are granules and liquid. Granular fertilizers offer a slow-release feeding option. They come in pellets or coarse powder that break down slowly in the soil over a period of months. 

Liquid fertilizers are fast-acting and get to work immediately which is perfect for ailing plants. 

Liquid Fertilizer 

Liquid fertilizers are available as ready-to-use or concentrated formulas and can be applied in different ways depending on the season. 

Dilute in water and fertilize while you water or apply as a “foliar feed” directly to leaves. Liquid fertilizers are the quickest method of getting nutrients to your plants and to the soil. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when mixing and never add more than the recommended quantities because liquid fertilizers tend to cause leaf or root burn if over-used. 

Slow-Release Granules 

Granules come in pellets, granules, or powders and are called “slow-release” because they break down slowly over a period of months with each watering. In most cases, you will need to scatter the product on top of the soil and then gently mix it to incorporate it into the soil. 

Fertilizer Spikes 

Like granules, fertilizer spikes are slow-release fertilizers. They dissolve gradually and are pre-measured, so it is difficult to over-fertilize your garden. 

Make sure to read the packaging so that you put the correct amount of spikes by or in your plants. 

Organic Fertilizer 

I tend to gravitate towards organic products because they are free from synthetic and often toxic chemicals. They also won’t contaminate water sources via run-off and are generally more environmentally conscious and kinder to nature and wildlife. 

Best Fertilizers for Hostas 

There are so many fertilizers to choose from but I’ve managed to narrow it down to 6 really solid fertilizers that are perfect for growing Hostas, whether you prefer ground-planted or potted varieties, there’s something for everyone. Now you just have to decide what method you prefer. 

Pros 

  • Promotes growth in plants and vegetables 
  • Provides three major nutrients in equal amounts 
  • Easy to use

Cons 

  • Not available in all US states due to Phosphorus runoff 

Sometimes my plants will “stall out”. They seem to stop growing. Now, this doesn’t mean that they’re not healthy, they just haven’t gotten any bigger usually from some environmental stresses. 

I’ve found Espoma Garden Food is great to help plants recover from stress and help increase bigger, faster growth and the 10-10-10 N-P-K is the ideal balance for Hosta plants. 

Most users can notice a difference in just a few short days after use, with fuller foliage and healthier growth. It’s not the most reasonably priced option on the market but the results speak volumes if you’re looking for prize-winning specimens.

How to use: For individual plants or seeds, mix 1 teaspoon with the soil. 

For established plants, apply ⅛ cups per plant. For gardens, apply 1 ½ pound per 100 square feet. Place fertilizer at least 3 inches away from the plant. Mix into the soil, but be careful not to disrupt the roots or seeds. Repeat every four weeks and make sure to water after use.

Pros 

  • Extensive, easy to follow instructions 
  • Sustainably made 
  • Pet friendly 

Cons 

  • ‘Organic’ odor that some find offensive

Pleasingly all Dr. Earth products are organic, non-GMO, and have no synthetic ingredients added. Great news for your garden, your Hosta plants, and the environment.  

This slow-release fertilizer is perfect for any stage of your Hosta’s growth and can be used as a general-purpose fertilizer for many other garden feeding needs. 

I find this 4-4-4 ratio particularly beneficial at the start of the growing season as a fertilizer for corn. It is gentle enough for newly planted corn seedlings without the risk of leaf or root burn – even when used regularly.

Like Espoma Garden Food, it provides equal amounts of the nutrients included. The bonus with this product is the inclusion of Dr. Earth’s patented TruBiotic formula that adds microbes to enrich soil further.  

Use this as a regular fertilizer or create a compost tea to use as a foliar spray that is mild enough not to cause leaf burn.

How to use: For outdoor plants, use 1 cup for every 10 feet of growing area or ¾ cup for every 12 feet of row. Apply every two months year-round. For instructions on new plants, potted plants, and trees and shrubs, consult the packaging. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use 
  • Safe for all plants 
  • Guaranteed not to burn when used correctly 

Cons: 

  • More expensive than other brands

When your Hostas are looking droopy, they will thank you for a quick nutrient boost. And this water-soluble plant food fertilizer from Miracle-Gro is the fast-acting, easy-to-use, boost that will not disappoint. 

When my Hosta plants are ailing and in need of a pick-me-up, this is what I reach for. Expect vibrant and full foliage and fast results. The only downside is the cost. Plant for the plant, this feed works out to be more expensive than some other leading fertilizers that are currently available.

How to use: For best results, I use this fertilizer once a week or every two weeks. You can use a watering can or sprayer. I’ve found that watering can work just fine. For outdoor plants, mix 1 tablespoon of Miracle-Gro for every gallon of water. For best coverage, soak the base of the plants. 

Pros 

  • Long term benefits without chemicals 
  • Easy to use 

Safe for children and pets 

Cons 

  • Natural ‘organic’ odor may attract animals

Jobe’s Organic Annuals & Perennials is a dependable fertilizer for all-purpose garden use, whether you are helping your Hostas thrive or giving your trees an extra boost. This fertilizer promotes root growth, aids against disease, and improves the long-term quality of the soil. 

It’s a gentle, organic, and slow-release feed that will enrich the soil with the nutrients that your Hostas need without damaging the environment. The granules are completely organic, contain no harmful chemicals, and last up to 3 months.

How to use: For best results, I would recommend lightly sprinkling the fertilizer at the base of the plant and then watering afterward. 

For established plants and shrubs, mix 1 ½ cups per foot of plant spread. For plants, 3 feet or wider, use 2 cups.

Pros: 

  • Easy packaging for resealable storage 
  • Great for multi-plant gardens  

Cons: 

  • May stain driveways, walkways, and patios 

If you have a significant collection of outdoor shrubs and trees, this is an excellent option. Because of its even distribution of nutrients, it is safe for all of your plants. 

Users love this feed because it helps to establish a strong root system and improves the structure and appearance of foliage making leaves shinier and healthier. Your Hostas will thank you! 

Use as a regular fertilizer during the growing season or incorporate into the soil when you are first planting to add a balanced blend of macronutrients to soil and help your Hosta plants to thrive. 

I prefer using this feed for ground-planted Hostas rather than those grown in pots and containers as the run-off caused staining on the hardscape beneath the pots.

How to use: For flowers and large shrubs, use ½ cups per 4 feet of height. Apply 3 times per year and rinse fertilizer off of leaves or stems. Use ¼ cups for younger plants. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use 
  • Great price 
  • Dependable results 

Cons: 

  • Use half the amount to avoid over fertilizing

J R Peters Jacks All-Purpose Fertilizer is a family-owned company that strives to give the everyday gardener a high-quality water-soluble fertilizer. 

The product was created to feed both through the roots and the leaves and the equal formula of nutrients provides greener leaves, luscious flowers, and brighter colors. 

Peter Jacks is safe for all indoor and outdoor plants, trees, and vegetables although I prefer using half quantities for my Hosta plants. 

How to use: For best results, apply through watering every one to two weeks. For outdoor plants, add 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. For indoor plants, apply ½ teaspoon per gallon of water every other week or ¼ teaspoon every time you water your plants. 

How to Fertilizer Hostas 

Hostas are so forgiving but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared so that you can give your plants the best care. Read below to learn the dangers of over-fertilizing and how to avoid it. Whether you’re fertilizing Hostas in the ground or in pots. 

Over Fertilizing Hostas 

Hostas are already agreeable plants so when it comes to fertilizing them, less is more especially if they are already planted in nutrient-rich soil in the ground. 

Use a low dosage and balanced fertilizer at the start of the growing season. A slow-release granular option is best as liquid feeds need applying more often and can cause leaf or root burn.

You’ll know that you over fertilized your plants if the leaves turn brown around the edges or start to curl. 

Fertilizing Hostas in Pots or Containers 

Growing Hostas is a great way to add texture and interest to your outdoor space and since slugs love Hostas, it’s a great way to keep them out of reach. Plus, if you don’t have a very big yard, plants in pots might be your only option. 

Bear in mind that Hostas grown in pots will need fertilizing and watering more often so a water-soluble fertilizer might be your friend here. It’s important to feed them once in the spring and again in mid-summer. 

When to Apply Hosta Fertilizer

Hosta plants will benefit from a boost of nutrients at the beginning of the growing season when new shoots begin to appear. 

You can continue to provide mild doses of fertilizer whilst growing but be sure to stop feeding after mid to late summer because that can cause new growth to start which could be easily damaged by oncoming frost. 

After foliage has died back in the Fall cover with a layer of mulch to replenish lost nutrients and protect against winter frosts.

Fertilizing Hostas in Spring 

Spring is the perfect time to fertilize your Hostas. When the leaves start to pop out of the ground, that’s your cue! Now is a good time to conduct a soil test in case soil pH needs to be amended.

How Often to Feed Hostas 

Young plants require more fertilizer to gain strength while the older, more mature plants will require much less. As a rule of thumb, Hostas like to be fed regularly throughout the growing season. Be sure to check the fertilizer packaging for specific rules and timelines. 

Verdict: Best Fertilizer for Hostas 

Choosing the best fertilizer can be a daunting task but it’s easy when you know what you’re looking for. 

For Hosta plants that are generally in good health and planted in nutrient-rich soil, I strongly recommend you look at Jobe’s Organics for Annuals and Perennials Espoma Garden Food that offers that all-important 10-10-10- N-P-K ratio. 

If it’s ailing Hosta plants that need a quick pick me up, I highly recommend Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food. Its higher nitrogen ratio and fast-acting formula will quickly help to bring vibrancy and health back to sad-looking Hosta plants or nutrient deficient soil.  

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00BKB4LTO&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=theyardandgar 20&language=en US

Best Balanced Fertilizer

Espoma Garden Food 10-10-10

Macronutrients are perfectly balanced to encourage fuller foliage and healthier growth from your Hostas with regular fertilizing throughout the growing season just by using these slow-release granules. 

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B079ZPDKPH&Format= SL160 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=theyardandgar 20&language=en US
ir?t=theyardandgar 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B079ZPDKPH

Best Slow-Release Fertilizer

Dr. Earth Premium Gold Fertilizer 4-4-4

All-natural, slow-release granules, suitable for use throughout the Hosta growing season as well as in the rest of the garden. Promotes strong root growth, protects against disease and pests, and improves soil quality. 

Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16

Best Water-Soluble Plant Food

Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16

For use when Hosta plants are lacking in vitality or for nutrient deficient soil. Dissolve this fast-acting formula in water and apply it to the foliage and roots of ailing Hostas for noticeably healthier plants.

So, whether you’re a die-hard Hosta plant specialist or you’re new to the game, you are now well equipped to decide what is best for your Hostas. 

FAQs Hosta Fertilizer