Hosta foliage colors range from single to multicolored green, blue-green and white.

How to Plant Hosta in Front of Boxwood

by Jessica Westover

The hosta plant (Hosta spp.) grows in a clump, producing arching oval leaves from a central point. More than a thousand varieties of hosta exist, offering gardeners a wide range of sizes and foliage color. Depending upon the cultivar, this herbaceous perennial grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, where it requires morning sun, afternoon shade and fast-draining, acidic, fertile soils. The smooth, wide hosta leaves make a nice contrast against the tiny, dark-green foliage of boxwood plants (Buxus spp.). Planting hosta in front of boxwood allows the latter to cast shade over the hosta's tender foliage.

Pull weeds and remove rocks and debris from the ground located on the eastern or northern side of the boxwood. Clear 3 square feet of ground next to each boxwood plant on the site. Spread a 6-inch deep layer of compost over the site with a rake. Mix the compost into the top 12 inches of soil with a garden fork, keeping at least 12 inches away from the boxwood's base to avoid damaging its roots. Smooth the soil surface with a rake.

Dig a hole in the ground with a shovel, making it twice as wide and equal in depth to the hosta's root ball. Space the hole 1 to 3 feet from the boxwood's base, basing the spacing on the hosta's mature spread. Repeat this process as needed, digging one hole for each hosta you wish to plant. Space individual holes 1 to 3 feet apart, positioning them in even rows or a slight zigzagging pattern, depending upon your preference.

Slide the hosta carefully from its pot. Cut vertically through any roots growing in a circular pattern around the root ball using a pair of pruning shears. Cut off any broken, mushy or dark colored roots. Massage the bottom of the root ball gently to spread the roots outward.

Place the hosta in the bottom center of the hole. Adjust the depth of the hole if needed to position the root ball's top even with the surrounding ground. Fill the hole half full of soil. Tamp the soil down around the plant's roots. Fill the hole with water from a garden hose. Wait for the water to drain completely into the soil.

Fill the remainder of the hole with soil, tamping it down as before. Do not overfill the hole or mound soil around the hosta's stems. Never bury the hosta deeper than it was previously growing.

Plant additional hostas in the same manner. Water the planting site thoroughly.

Spread a 2-inch-deep layer of pine straw or bark chip mulch over the site, around the hosta and boxwood plants. Keep the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the stems of each plant to ensure proper air circulation.

Water the plants when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil become dry. Never allow the soil to become soggy or develop standing water.

Items you will need

  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Garden fork
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose
  • Mulch


  • Stop digging if you encounter boxwood roots while mixing the compost with the soil or digging the planting hole. Fill in the hole and tamp the soil in place. Resume digging 4 or more inches away from the boxwood.

Photo Credits

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