How to Grow Hostas Under Pine Trees

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Stephanie

Hostas are shade-loving plants which can thrive under pine trees, provided organic matter is added to the soil prior to planting. Hostas growing under pine trees require regular application of mulch and fertiliser during the growing season in order to achieve their maximum potential.

Here are 5 things you have to take care of to cultivate hostas in pine trees.

  1. Include lots of leaf mould and compost to the soil prior to planting to ensure that the soil is moist.
  2. Mulch the hosta around every spring to improve the soils structure and stop the soil from drying out.
  3. The hosta should be watered, ideal is a slow soak. drip line to combat the dry conditions in the pine tree canopy.
  4. Apply fertilizer to the soil as it beneath pine trees could lack nutrients.
  5. Check the levels of moisture in the soil on a regular basis during the season of growth.

Hostas are competing against the pine tree roots for resources like nutrients and water, so stay tuned for the most effective methods and simple solutions for cultivating hostas in pine trees with success…

Add organic Matter

The soil directly beneath mature pine trees is dry soil with many years of pine needles in different stages of decomposition.

There is a myth that the soil would be too acidic for plants like hostas However, once the pine needles have been fully broken down into compost, the soil will have a pH of 6 which is the ideal pH to be used for the growth of hostas.

The soil that is not amended beneath the pine tree will consist of:

  • Hostas are too dry partially due to the canopy blocking rainfall.
  • Infertility is low or not having a complete nutritional profile.
  • It is not possible to hold enough moisture in order to support the growth of hostas that require constant humidity.

So when you plant the hosta, you should include a substantial amount in organic material. The combination of leaf mould and compost and well-rotted manure yields excellent results when you plant hostas.

The leaf mould, in particular is able to hold up to 500 more its own amount of water, which is ideal because hostas require a constant supply of water to maintain their shape and form.

hosta variety

Manure manure is high in nutrients that, when together with the compost, will help keep fertility over the long run.

  • Organic matter can also encourage microbes as well as beneficial activity of wormsso that soil is more eco-friendly which benefits the hostas since worm castings focus vital nutrients into the bio-chelated state that is better suited to the hostas nutrient intake.
  • If you are digging your hole to plant the hosta make sure you dig out a greater area of soil than your root ball the plant because the bigger the area you alter the more favorable for the long-term chances of health for the hosta.
  • The size of your hole to be is defined by of the particular hosta variety that has more robust varieties like like Jade Cascade which can grow 3 feet wide when at maturity, compared to Amber Tiara Hosta which only grows approximately fourteen inches in width.
  • Be sure that when you are planting the top of your hosta (the point where the stems join with root) is level with the ground.
  • Backfill your hole using compost, and the ideal mixture of manure (hostas are heavy feeders) and then firm the soil to provide some stability, without compressing the soil since roots form an open structure, so they are able to establish themselves efficiently.

To get the best results, following planting, you must water thoroughly up to 3 gallons for the larger varieties, and 2 gallons for smaller or medium-sized varieties. sprinkle mulch on the surrounding dirt…

Why You Should Include Mulch to Hostas under Pines

The addition of mulch to areas under pine trees is crucial to improve the

  • Soil structure
  • Capacity to retain water
  • In addition, adding nutrients to enhance the soil each season to replace the nutrition taken by the hostas that feed heavy.

Pine trees are prone to being dry because of the absence of soil quality, and also the fact that the canopy absorbs a large amount of rain, resulting in less water gets to the hostas that are planted under.

Spread a thin layer of mulch over the soil around the hosta. It is important to leave a gap of 6 inches between the top of the plant and its crown.

Mulch can be laid down at any time of the year, but it is usually best to apply the mulch prior to the beginning of spring to supply nutrients for the coming growing season as well as to hold moisture during the dry spring and the summer months.

The most effective mulching materials to use around hostas to fight the dryness (the most significant issue) in pine forests is exactly the kind of mulch youd employ to amend soil initially.

General compost that is well rotted leaf mould, manure as well as grass clippings are all excellent alternatives. Avoid mulches like bark or wood chips because they are not as efficient in holding in moisture and do only a tiny amount in terms of fertility.

The mulch also comes with the additional benefit of reducing the growth of weeds, which will save you both time and energy.

A good 2 inches of mulch acts as a large sponge, absorbing the water and reducing the speed that soil evaporates but it also has the structure of a porous and flexible which allows water excess to be able to drain out. The roots require an ongoing supply of water however they dont like being sat in a saturated soil with pools of water.


Water with Drip Line to Hostas under Pines

The most effective method to water hostas in the pine tree is to put down a soaker or dip line hose and then leave it on for a couple of hours in the summer.

The dry soil can be the most significant issue when it comes to growing hostas in pine trees. At day, the leaves of hostas release water through their huge leaves, creating a partial vacuum which causes additional water to be drawn up by the roots. This internal pressure and constant water supply that gives the large leaves of the hosta as well as a luxurious, shiny feeling. (This is accomplished through the process called the Turgor Pressure).

So I cant stress enough how important it is to have having a regular watering schedule for taking care of hostas in dry conditions, particularly when hosts need to battle with pine trees for water.

If you are unable to put a soaker hose close to the planter area for hostas, then watering using the hose is recommended for larger hostas because of the amount of water required.

The more extensive varieties like Sum and Substance could require 3 gallons or more of water during hot days, with medium to small varieties requiring 1 to 2 Gallons. If you have more cloudy days or when there is rain, youll need to water your hostas every two or three days.

Hostas are characterized by the need for water, therefore it is essential to give them a thorough watering because this can allow the roots to develop deeper into the earth and draw in moisture which are otherwise in a limited supply beneath pine trees.

Make sure to water your hostas in the early morning to provide them with water to help them through the day. The night time watering can encourage snails and slugs, which are common pests when it comes to caring for hostas.

Monitor Soil Moisture Levels

If you are growing hostas in pine trees, it is important particular focus to the levels of moisture.

Make sure to check frequently using your fingers to see if the soil is damp. If it feels dry or just a little moist then you should give your host a large drink. This is a great preventative measure to keep the hostas from drying out or dying due to dry conditions.

If youve prepared the soil by amending it with organic matter prior to planting, make sure to add mulch frequently and regularly water Hostas will thrive in a shaded environment under the pine tree.

Removal of Pine Roots during the planting process Hostas

One of the major obstacles in the planting of hostas beneath pines is the need to find enough space within the pines shallow tree roots.

If there is a thick root system that is derived from many pines or other trees, it could be difficult to cultivate the more imposing varieties of hosta like Hosta Sagae that can reach 70 inches in size. You must plant smaller varieties like Gold Edger.

It is possible to make use of an axe cut the pine trees roots to allow for the planting of a hosta, which could be quite small for smaller cultivars.

The more roots are in the area of planting, the greater the potential for the hostas to compete with pine trees for water and nutrients, so the requirement for fertilizer, watering and mulching will rise in proportion.

Fertilizer is essential for Hostas under trees

It is essential to fertilize hostas in pine trees because the hosta is competing directly with the larger pine tree for nutrients.

Mulch can help increase the soils fertility, however it wont necessarily provide all the nutrients that the hosta requires in the right amount for it to develop to its maximum potential in terms of shape, size and shiny leaves, especially in the case of pine root systems that try to absorb those same nutrients.

To get the most from the hosta in terms of shape, size and the shiny sheen of the lush leaves, fertilizer is essential, especially with the more hefty cultivars.

Hostas are generally heavy eaters that require nitrogen (N) Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) but they dont have a problem with it. A general balanced fertilizer for plants is ideal for replenishing these nutrients, as well as the trace elements that aid in the health of hostas.

A reliable name brand fertilizer (such as Miracle Grow) can provide the perfect balance. Apply every two weeks beginning in the early spring, when the temperature has risen as well as theres no risk of frost. Continue applying every fortnight until the middle of August.

Dont apply any fertilizer following August because it can stimulate growth in a time when the hostas are preparing to go into winter hibernation.

Key Takeaways

  • Hostas are able to thrive under their shade in pine forests, provided that your soil has been amended by lots of organic matter prior to planting.
  • Leaf mould, compost, and well-rotted manure are excellent amendments to give nutrients and maintain the constant supply of moisture that hosts require to maintain their structure and remain healthy.
  • Mulching in spring is essential to aid the soil beneath pine trees hold more water, and to gradually improve the soils structure.
  • Hostas growing under pine trees require fertilizer to compete with the pines roots and to allow the hosta to grow to its fullest potential.
  • If you are growing hostas in pines, you must be very careful about the watering. It is recommended to install the drip pipe, or soaker hose, or water large hostas using 3 gallons in hot weather . Smaller hostas with just 1-2gallons each few days. Make sure to check soil moisture frequently and mulch it to keep the water in.
  • Plant hostas with smaller varieties if you see plenty of pine roots in the soil. You can cut off some pine roots using an axe to create space for hostas, but without causing long-term damage for the tree.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)