The Plant Disease Clinic received a sample this week of a 10-year-old Gold Standard hosta that was dead in the center of the clump. The client was concerned that the hosta appeared to be dying from the inside out over the past few years, and had not shown much growth in recent years.
This is a fairly common problem on some varieties of hosta. A dead center is not an indication of disease in this case. The hosta puts on most of its new growth on the outside of the clump each year, and over several years the old, dead growth from past years accumulates in the center.
Treatment to restore aesthetic appeal is easy. Hostas showing this problem can be dug up roots and all, and the dead center can be cut out. The remaining "ring" of live material can be divided into several new plants, which can then be replanted.
Many hosta problems do not have such cheerful endings. For more information on hosta diseases and insect pests, please see Hosta Diseases and Pests (PDF).
A hosta sample that is dead in the center, with new growth on the edge.