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When would be the best time to buy hostas, saxifraga, brunnera, dicentra and helleborus?


PS: I assume this is the right section to post this question?


Hi greenlove

autumn is good for planting,any time now. Plants can get established before the winter.

Best time for me to buy is now...except for hellebores.  But the best time to plant out is spring for me.  I prefer to use those planting gaps for winter interest (biennials perhaps) and to plant out my winter purchases after growing on in bigger pots.


The general wisdom is that autumn planting allows plants to establish a good root system over winter because in autumn the soil is warm enough and moist enough to encurage this and, with most plants going dormant above gorund, there isn't a lot happening to stress the roots as they grow.

Plants that get established in autumn and over winter do not usually need any watering in teh new season.  Spring planted plants have to cope with establishing roots while supporting a spurt of energy and growth above ground so can get stressed and will require careful monitoring for watering and feeding.

However, in my own garden I have learned to plant all except the hardiest shrubs and trees in spring as I can lose new plants to hard winters.  Normal British winters should be OK unless you're in a very exposed area.  If you're worried about marginally hardy plants, pot them on into bigger pots and keep them under frost free shelter for winter then plant out in spring.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that most perennials.....not shrubs because these are best planted in autumn......grow better and make bigger plants if kept in pots over winter.  Then you have large subjects to make an impact in the spring.  The exception would be perennials of good size and in good flower, viz., heleniums right now, which will prefer EARLY autumn or late summer plantIng and will make a good show now


Thank you everyone for the advice. So generally the consensus is to buy around this time and plant the hardy ones now and keep the less hardy in pots until spring.

I know that some plants are slow growers so the bigger you buy the better (generally). Is this the case with the above plants? Especially with hostas, are they slow growers? What I am trying to find out is if I need to buy them in 2l pots (which are more expensive) or could I buy them in the smaller size pots and they would quickly grow to a good size?

I split hostas most years.  I pot up into 1 to 3 litre pots and leave outside.  I find them to be very quick growers.....of course, if you have a miniature variety the growth rate would be slow.

At this time of year a 1 litre pot size is absolutely fine.  Smaller to keep and will be itching to grow fast in the spring.   (will soon be as big as those you may have purchased in bigger pots). My method is to pot on in spring and even once more to produce large plants for the garden.

So, I would buy hostas as small plants now or as dormant ones in winter can afford to buy few more varieties..and keep in pots until spring.  There are some excellent hosta suppliers online with fantastic new varieties.  That's the way I would.....and do....go greenlove


Verdun should point out that he gardens in the south west and has a very mild climate compared to the rest of the UK.

What works for him won't do inland or in frost pockets or in exposed areas where it's colder and winters are longer and harder.

I prefer to buy well potted hostas and roses and many other plants in spring which means the grower does the over winter care and takes the risks of losses rather than me and my purse.  Then again, my winters are severe and even established plants can get clobbered in a bad one.

I live in Macclesfield, Cheshire and the winters here tend to vary year on year. I have to say that so far I have never lost any plants apart from a Mimosa young tree (acacia dealbata) which i made the mistake of leaving out in winter. Then again as they say, never say never.

I have to explain that my hostas will be planted in good size terracota pots in the front garden. The front garden is quite sheltered from winds especially on south and east sides and in summer enjoys the afternoon sun from 2-3pm onwards.

Verdun, are there any online sellers of hostas that you would recommend please (perhaps via PM if the forum rules dont allow posting them here)?

I do know of some.  I'll check them out.  No, the forum is fine about posting such names and info.  Earlier in the year I did check out some varieties but didn't buy any then so  it shouldn't take me long to source them again.

Greenlove. Bowden hostas was the company I considered,buying from before.  Bali Hai nursery is another. I think Bowden sounds best option. 

Thank you Verdun. Bowden looks good indeed. I'l go ahead and place an order.

Obelixx is quite correct.  However, buying in now and delaying planting is something I would do wherever I lived.  I like to have my plants securely in my possession ASAP .

Greenlove, I too will be buying a couple of new hostas for my new border.  Some wonderful new varieties available now.   Oh, a nice brunnera is Hadspen Cream.  Lovely variegation in spring and early summer with forget me not blue flowers for several weeks.  

That brunnera is lovely indeed. Added to my list of definitely to buy. Thank you 


I am going to be splitting my hostas any day now.  Not sure of the varieties, but can post some pics. Some plain, some variegeted.  Any one who wants some is welcome to them if you don't mind paying the postage. (i have found some couriers to give an excellent inexpensive service when I have sent plants before)


gardenjeannie, I would be very grateful if I could have some. I dont mind paying postage at all. Please send me a message when you decide to split them and we can arrange payment and the rest of the details. Cheers.


Have pm you, greenlove.  Will be splitting soon and will let you know.

Hi all. Due to unexpected events I have been away from the forum since September last year. (gardenjeannie, have sent you a PM with my apologies for not replying).

I never managed to buy the hostas last autumn so now that I am able to dedicate some of my time to gardening I am looking to buy some. Just wanted to check, am I still on time to buy them? I have noticed that Bowden's still sell them (they arrive barerooted or with little soil on them apparently).

I will propagate some stuff too with a view to help those who have lost plants  this winter.   


Greenlove, have replied to your new pm. I' ll dig out some hostas,for you, as soon as weather allows! And for anyone else who wants. Am re-designing a bed this yr, so have lots of plants to shift. Will go to the swapping thread, so look there.