| The genus Hosta originally comes
from China and Japan. Hostas like shady, moist, organic soil, but many can
tolerate and thrive in other conditions. If treated with a little care (more in
the south and west), they will easily outlive those that plant
Grown mainly for the ornamental effect of their foliage, hostas
become more impressive year by year as they gain in size and beauty.
As clumps mature, margins on
variegated varieties often become more pronounced; puckering become more
prominent; and leaf color may become more intense.
Choices abound in size and shape, leaf patterns, color,
texture, substance and flowers, as there are thousands of registered cultivars
of hosta. Large hostas may measure 4 feet in
height and 5 feet in width, while the smallest miniatures is only a few inches
across, and most hostas ranging between 1 and 3 feet tall. Hosta leaves may be
rounded to oval, heart-shaped or lance-like. The leaf may be flat, have a wavy
edge or a puckered texture. Hosta flowers are produced from early summer to fall
depending on the species and cultivar. Flowers may be white, lavender or purple.
A few hostas are fragrant.
Hostas often grow bigger in the
North than in the South, given the same conditions.
- Blue-leaved hostas may be bluer in
- Some variegated varieties and
yellow or gold-leaved hostas need
some sun to fully develop their
- Yellow-leaved hostas often appear
more yellow in the South.
- Yellow hosta can brighten up a
location, if it is not too shady.
- Green and blue hostas may lose
some of their color intensity with too much sun.
- Sunlight is necessary to encourage
- Morning sun with some early
afternoon sun (5 to 6 hours total) benefits fragrant hostas.
- Morning sun is preferred over
Morning sun and mid-day shade is the
ideal condition for most varieties. An often recommended general guide
is a minimum of 25% shade in northern regions and 50% in southern regions,
depending on the variety. And, do not forget hostas growing in
more sun will require more water,
an inch or more of water per week if
not supplied by rains. Did you know blue hostas are not
really blue? The leaves are green with a wax coating on their surface. This wax
is produced when new leaves are emerging. Over a season the wax can melt
in the heat,
especially in the South. The coating may also wash off in heavy rains or with
frequent overhead watering. They will be the bluest in the spring and may
gradually lose the blue color, possibly turning to green by fall. The color
tends to be bluer and last longer in cooler climates or areas.
Variegated leaves may
include a combination of lighter and darker shades of color. Medio
variegated leaves show a light color in the center of the leaf, which may
be white, gold, yellow, or light green. Marginally variegated leaves
show a light color on the edge of the leaf. Some plants naturally
experience seasonal color changes. A plant might change from variegated to all green leaves during the
season, or from green to yellow, or turn from yellow to white.
Blue, Fragrant Bouquet, Fragrant Dream, Fried Green Tomatoes, Guacamole, Royal
Standard, So Sweet, Stained Glass, Striptease are fragrant hostas.
Shearing the leaves is a technique used to increase
eye/shoot and root production. In northern climates, hostas should be
sheared before August to allow new shoots time to mature before first
|If potting hostas, we recommend using a
nursery-type mix rather than peat-vermiculite types. For example: 60
to 70% compost bark, 20% peat, and 10 to 20%perlite
( or coarse
sand). Optimum pH is 6.0 to 6.5 and soluble salts should be low.
When preparing a new garden or working an old one, if composted
material is not available, this example
mix can be used to amend the soil. |
Hostas are heavy feeders and require a complete fertilizer program to attain the
most spectacular foliage. We use 14-14-14 slow release fertilizer as a top
dressing and water soluble fertilizers up to 30-30-30 N-P-K (Nitrogen for
foliage, Phosphorus for roots, Potassium for structure and flowering). In early
spring after the first growth starts, apply a well-balanced, slow-release
fertilizer. Avoid excessive fertilizer, especially in the summer. Do not fertilize at least two
months prior to first anticipated frost. Addition of
compost over the bed in the fall, can reduce next year's
Slugs and snails are the primary hosta
pests. Occasional pests include aphids, thrips, voles and mites. Watering hostas in the morning
(versus the evening) decreases pest and disease opportunities. Remove hosta
leaves and clean up around the plants after they have died back to help
control diseases, voles and slugs. Leaves that are thick and stiff are
said to have "heavy substance"; such leaves are considered to be somewhat
resistant to slug feeding. While there are a number of
commercial and home remedies for slugs and snails, we have found that a 15%
ammonia and 85% water mixture deters the critters, as well as deer. Increase the
ammonia percentage if deer are the culprits. Hosta Diseases and Pests
Hostas are easily increased by division of the clump in early spring.
Hostas can be grown from seed, but as the male parent is often unknown, the
resulting seedling is always an unknown. Just like children, new hostas will be a mix of DNA, that may or may not resemble the parents. Vegetative propagation is always advised for true matching offspring of the parent.
Patented Plants will have a patent number on
the label or indicator that a patent has been applied for. Patented plants may
not be propagated in any way, shape or form without the owner's permission or
until the patent term has expired.
Companion plants enhance the
appearance hostas. Early blooming bulbs and perennials will enhance emerging
hosta leaves. Spring bulb foliage can be hidden after blooming by the larger
hosta leaves. Recommended companions include astilbes, heuchera, snowdrops,
crocus, tulips, daffodils, trillium, anemones, forget-me-nots, ferns,
hellebores, pulmonarias, and wild gingers. In summer months, bright annuals such
as impatiens, begonia, and coleus make attractive companion
The hosta descriptions
used on this site are generally noted per their registration with the American
Hosta Society. Your hostas appearance may differ based on climate and
conditions. We have also
added some of our own comments