Hostas are a widely regarded as one of the most popular shade perennials. Their popularity is due in part to their ease of culture, the public's greater awareness of the value of landscaping upon property values, and the positive effect hostas have on our ecology.
Hostas offer endless variation and numerous opportunities in the shade garden. From green, gold, blue to multicolored, their leaves appear in all manner of sizes, shape and texture. Flowers range from lavender to white and many are fragrant!
Hostas require little maintenance and become larger and more valuable each year. Hostas are a perfect choice for today's modern, busy gardener. Great Garden Plants has carefully selected some of the truly outstanding performers for North American gardens.
No shade garden plans should be without hostas. When you consider how long lived hostas are, they are a small investment that will give you years of enjoyment. More than this, hostas are delightfully modern, and display an understated elegance. Their dramatic appearance is often accentuated when combined with other shade loving plants such as ferns, Heuchera, shrubs, and trees.
Hostas prefer full shade to partial shade. If given some sun, make sure it is morning sun since it is not as harsh as afternoon sun. Morning sun helps lighten up gold hostas, where in deep shade they remain chartreuse. There are some varieties that are sun tolerant (particularly in northern gardens). Blue hostas as a general rule, hold their color when planted in more shade.
Although hostas will grow in a wide range of soil, they will perform their best in a soil where organic matter has been added. Organic matter can be compost, rotted manure, composted leaves, peat moss. Adding organic matter help improve the moisture retention of the soil, as well as adding nutrients for fertility. Plant in a well-drained site that has been amended with compost; and make sure that the root clump is level to the ground and water well. They can be left undisturbed for years, but as they get older they can become more difficult to dig and divide.
When to Plant
Hostas can be planted almost anytime during the growing season when the soil is workable. If planted in early spring with a threat a frost, cover new foliage. If you are unable to do so and the foliage is discolored and unsightly from frost damage, remove the unattractive leaves and they will soon emerge with new growth. Frost does not harm hosta.
Fall planted hostas should be given 4-6 weeks of growing time prior to when the soil freezes. This allows them to make some new roots while the soil is still warm and have some time to prepare for winter.
When to Divide or move Hostas
Hostas can be divided or moved anytime of the year. Unlike daylilies, which need to be divided every 3-4 years, hostas do not need regular division to keep them vigorous. Most gardeners prefer to divide and move in the spring once the eyes are evident and before any substantial leaf growth occurs. The longer you wait to divide the more likelihood there is of damaging new foliage. Hostas can be divided with a spade or a knife, and then cut in smaller sections and replanted. Hostas can be dividing and moved in late summer or early fall.
Water is important for good growth. We recommend an inch of water each week. Hostas that grow in sandier soil might require more water. If watering is insufficient, the leaf tips of hostas will begin to burn.
Hostas will thrive in any good, reasonably fertile garden soil; however, a little fertilizer will help them along. In early spring, as new hosta growth emerges, add a small handful of all purpose fertilizer (5-10-10) and spread around each hosta clump, but about 8 inches away from the crown of the plant.
Fall Clean Up
Toward the end of the growing season, hosta foliage will begin to brown and decay. Some gardeners remove the spent foliage at this time. Other gardeners prefer to wait until the following spring, where they rake and remove the dead foliage.
Sun Tolerant Hostas
There are a number of hostas that can tolerate a good deal of sun during the day. In southern zones, they may require more shade. A few notable hostas that have demonstrated good sun tolerance include: ‘Stained Glass, ‘Sun Power', ‘Sum and Substance'
Garden Design Tips
Use as individual specimens or plant in groupings
Best to plant smaller hostas in grouping or raised beds for best impact
Combine with: Ferns, Hellebores, Heuchera