Can I Plant Hostas Under An Ornamental Crab Tree

Question From: S. Jakob - Billings, Montana, United States
Q: I would really like to plant Hostas around my Ornamental Crab Tree and was wondering if the Hostas will kill my beautiful tree? Will digging up around it also hurt it? I am new at gardening. Thanks. I live in Alberta Canada.

A: The Hostas will not kill the tree, but damaging roots can. That said, the project is doable. Best to start as soon and weather is frost free. Water the area well a couple of days prior to planting. I would use small plants. The tips of the leaves should just be emerging. You can divide larges specimens into single or double shoots, with roots included. Use a long, thin trowel to plant with. Plunge it straight down and rock it back and forth to make a hole. This way you will not cut lots of roots - just move them out of the way. I'd add a bit of compost to the hole and plant the plants. Water the plants in and mulch them with an inch or two of wood chips. Keep the mulch about 4inches from the bark of the tree. Water enough to keep the soil moist but not sodden. You can fertilize them with fish emulsion to get them going, and that should do it. Have fun, Nancy and Happy Yardening.