Although hostas are perfectly winter hardy for northern areas, they still can suffer frost damage in early spring. Certain hostas such as  H. montana 'Aureomarginata', H. plantaginea and H. lancifolia tend to emerge from the ground earlier in the spring than other species and cultivars. This makes them vulnerable to frost damage.

Hostas begin to push their new growth up from the ground in the form of "bullets" which are actually folded leaves that are held tightly together. As the weather warms, the leaves unfurl and open into their full width and length.

If the bullet is exposed to sub-freezing temperatures, certain cells on the outside of the leaf tissue will freeze. If they freeze enough to cause the rigid cell walls to burst, the tissue is dead. Later when the leaf fully expands, the broken cells cause a split in the tissue. You can tell a frost crack in that the jagged edges of the opening will fit back together like a jiggsaw puzzle.

So, if certain hostas have emerged and the temperatures are going down into the 20s, find some way to cover them. Individual clumps could be covered with a plastic pot or tarp. Once the leaves are damaged, of course, they will never "heal" back together. If they bother you, cut them off and wait for new ones to emerge.

Copyrightę 2000 -