Can You Cut Hostas Back in Summer?

Hostas are versatile, easy-to-care-for perennial that adds beautiful foliage and texture to the garden. However, since they spread out and can become invasive, many gardeners always wonder whether or not they can cut hostas back in summer.

You can cut hostas back in summer, as this is the perfect time to give them a trim to rejuvenate their growth. Use sharp shears to make clean cuts, and remove any dead or damaged leaves. Be sure to leave at least 1-2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm) of growth so the plant can continue to thrive.

The rest of this comprehensive guide will discuss in-depth everything you need to know about cutting back hostas in summer, including why you should do it and how to properly care for your plants afterward. Read on to learn more about this essential gardening task.

Best Time To Cut Back Hostas in the Summer

While summer may seem logical to cut back hostas, it’s best to wait until after they’ve bloomed. This is usually sometime in late summer or early fall. Hostas produce flowers on tall stalks, and if you cut them back too early, you’ll likely end up with fewer blooms.

During the hot summer months, hosta leaves appear worn and dried out, and the plants can look a bit ragged. They become the “summer uglies” due to the wilted and damaged leaves. They no longer exude their velvety, lush look.

You can cut back the hostas to about 1-2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm) above the ground when they reach this point in their growth cycle.

If you want to cut back your hostas more severely, wait until they go dormant in the fall. This is the best time to give them a major trimming. During fall, the growing season is over, and the plant’s leaves will begin to die back naturally.

Why You Should Cut Back Hostas in Summer

Cutting back hostas in summer offers a slew of benefits for the plant and gardeners all over the US states, including Alabama, California, and Washington. For the plant, it rejuvenates growth, encourages more blooms, and improves air circulation.

For the gardener, it’s a way to keep hostas from taking over the garden and crowding out other plants.

Rejuvenate Growth

One of the main reasons to cut back hostas in summer is to rejuvenate their growth. This simple gardening task can jumpstart the plant’s growth cycle, leading to lusher, fuller foliage. If your hostas look a bit lackluster, give them a trim and watch as they bounce back with new vigor.

Additionally, cutting back hostas in summer helps to keep them from getting too large. Hostas can spread rapidly and become invasive, so it’s essential to keep them trimmed and under control.

Control Pests and Diseases

The hostas’ velvety and heart-shaped leaves make them a target for slugs and snails. These pests love to munch on hosta leaves, leaving behind a trail of slime and damaged foliage. If you notice your hostas are being eaten, it’s best to cut them back to prevent further damage.

Aphids, grasshoppers, and Japanese beetles are also common pests that feast on hosta leaves. Cutting back the hostas gives these pests less surface area to infest and makes it easier to control them.

In addition to pests, hostas are also susceptible to diseases such as anthracnose, petiole rot, and root-knot nematodes. Pruning the hostas helps prevent these diseases from taking hold and spreading. When disposing of pest and disease-infested hostas, be cautious not to spread the problem to other plants in your garden.

Improve Air Circulation

Hostas spread rapidly and can quickly become dense and overcrowded. When this happens, the leaves don’t have enough room to breathe, and air circulation is hindered. Leaves start turning yellow and brown, and the plant becomes more susceptible to pests, diseases, and fungal growth.

Cutting back hostas in summer helps improve air circulation and keeps the plant healthy. Sunlight penetrates the leaves more efficiently, water can reach the roots more effectively, and pests and diseases are less likely to take hold.

Encourage More Blooms

Don’t you love seeing those tall, slender hosta flowers in the garden? They add vertical interest and bring a pop of color to the landscape. Unfortunately, hostas may not bloom as profusely as you’d like. By pruning the plant, you give it a second chance to flower. More flowers mean more pollinators and a longer blooming season.

Boost Plant Health

Pruning hostas in summer gives the plant a chance to focus its energy on new growth. When the hosta is cut back, it goes into survival mode and puts all its resources into growing back bigger and stronger.

As a result, the plant becomes lusher, fuller, and more vigorous. Cutting back also helps to improve the plant’s overall health by reducing the risk of pests and diseases.

How To Cut Back Hostas During Summer

Cutting back hostas is a simple gardening task that anyone can do. It only requires a sharp pair of gardening shears and a bit of know-how. When cutting back hostas, be sure to make clean, sharp cuts. Avoid jagged cuts as they can damage the plant. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the damaged, wilted, or diseased leaves first. Snap them at the base of the plant and dispose of them carefully to avoid spreading pests or diseases.
  2. Cut back any yellow, brown, or dead leaves next. Dead leaves are a breeding ground for pests and diseases, so be cautious when handling them.
  3. Cut the hosta down to the ground with a pair of sharp gardening shears. Leave 1-2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm) of the stalk intact to prevent harming the plant. It also helps identify the plant’s location in the garden.
  4. Dispose of all the cuttings properly. Do not compost them as they may spread pests or diseases to other plants in your garden. Burning or trashing the hosta cuttings is the best way to get rid of them as it kills any pests or diseases that may be present.
  5. Apply a 1-inch (2.54 cm) layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and protect the roots. During fall, the mulch protects the hosta from freezing and thawing temperatures.

Caring for Hostas After Cutting Them Back

Proper care and maintenance after cutting back hostas are essential for the plant’s health and vigor. When not properly taken care of, the hosta may not recover and may even die. Here are a few simple tips for caring for your hostas after cutting them back.

Regular Watering

Hostas are heavy drinkers and need plenty of water to recover from the cutback. Water the plant at least 2-3 times a week, ensuring to soak the roots thoroughly each time. This helps the plant to re-establish itself and produce new growth.

However, don’t apply too much water as sogginess can lead to fungal diseases and rot. Always check the soil moisture by sticking your finger 1-2 inches (2.54 – 5.08 cm) into the ground.

If it feels dry, water the plant. You can also purchase a moisture meter to help you gauge the soil moisture level.


Cutting back hostas takes a lot out of the plant and can stunt its growth. To encourage new growth and promote plant health, fertilize the hosta 2-3 weeks after cutting it back.

Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers as they are dangerous when misused or in excess. Instead, opt for a slow-release fertilizer or organic compost. Phosphorus-based fertilizers are also beneficial as they encourage root growth.


Weeds compete with the hosta for water, nutrients, and space. They can quickly take over the garden bed and kill the hosta when left unchecked. Hand-pulling the weeds is the best way to get rid of them as it removes even the roots.

This prevents regrowth and stops the spread of weed seeds. Be sure to pull the weeds when they are young and small for easier removal. You can also use a hoe or trowel to loosen the soil and make removing the weeds easier.


Applying a fresh layer of mulch around the hosta’s base helps retain moisture and protect the roots. It also suppresses weed growth and prevents soil erosion. Use an organic mulch such as wood chips, bark, or leaves.

Use organic mulches such as bark chips, wood chips, or leaves. These break down over time and provide nutrients to the hosta plant.

 A 1-inch (2.54 cm) layer of mulch is sufficient. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the hosta’s stalk to prevent rot. Avoid inorganic mulches such as gravel or stones as they can damage the roots and don’t provide any nutrients to the plant.

Mixed Heart-Shaped Hosta Bare Roots - Rich Green Foliage, Low Maintenance, Heart Shaped Leaves - 6 Roots

Final Thoughts

Cutting back hostas in summer helps rejuvenate the plant’s growth and vigor. It also helps eliminate dead leaves and prevent the spread of pests and diseases. When properly cared for, hostas will quickly recover from the cutback and produce new growth.

Ensure you water the plant regularly, fertilize 2-3 weeks after cutting it back, and remove any weeds that may compete for resources. Applying a fresh layer of mulch helps retain moisture and protect the roots. With proper care, your hostas will thrive and provide lush greenery and beauty within no time.

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