Welcome back to Sunday morning in the garden, grab some coffee and let’s talk about hostas.
I know some gardeners turn their noses up at hostas because they are just too easy. And while I agree that just planting a row of them spaced 5′ apart in a foundation garden with rocks around them can be pretty unimaginative, there are also plenty of amazing ways to use them in a garden.
Not only that, but there are also countless varieties to choose from. There are very small hostas … like the baby blue eyes that I just purchased for my fairy garden …
and very big hostas, like Sum & Substance or Empress Wu which can grow 4′ tall and 6′ wide.
There are also lots of different leaf textures. Shiny, matte, puckered, smooth, or curly like this Stiletto.
I love the ones with really puckered leaves, they remind me of the seersucker fabric that my mom used to make summer clothes for me.
The shape of hosta leaves can be more rounded, like the one above, or more pointy like the leaves on this Lakeside Dragonfly…
Some hostas may have an upright growth habit with more vertical stems …
while others grow in a lower mound with their stems more horizontal to the ground.
Let’s talk about color for a minute too. My sister always corrects me when I call a hosta ‘blue’ by telling me they are green. Sure, all hostas are technically green but in the gardening world some shades of green have more blue in them …
and some have more yellow like this Sun Power hosta.
and some have what is considered ‘white’ in them also.
The colors of some varieties of hosta can vary depending on how much sunlight they get. I find that this May hosta is much more yellow if it gets more sunshine (and isn’t it gorgeous next to the dark purple of that Purple Palace Heuchera?).
However, in a full shade situation the color is much more subtle.
If you’re planning to plant a vibrant, bright yellow hosta, make sure it gets a little morning sunshine to bring out that bright color. I just planted three of these Sunset Grooves hostas and I hope they get enough sun where I put them to maintain this gorgeous color.
And on the other hand, if you plant a beautiful blue hosta make sure it is mostly in shade to avoid scorching the leaves.
There’s nothing more disappointing than buying a gorgeously colored hosta from the nursery, and then planting it in your garden only to find that the color has totally faded. So pay attention to the light requirements when deciding what hosta is right for you.
Hostas can have solid colored leaves or beautifully variegated leaves like those on this variety called June.
That’s one of my all time favorites, FYI.
Here in my shady, zone 4b garden I find hostas are exceptionally easy to grow. They don’t require much maintenance during the growing season other than cutting off the flower stalks. I cut off the spindly, less attractive flowers right away, but I leave the bigger, prettier flowers until they are spent. I have noticed that the bees really love the hosta flowers, so if you like to attract pollinators hostas are a good choice for the shade.
As I was reminded this spring, one downside to hostas is that they can be very susceptible to hail damage.
Coincidentally, two of my favorite garden vloggers, Garden Answer and Linda Vater both recently mentioned that they struggle to grow hostas. Both live in hot, dry climates and find that their hostas burn out in the heat. Garden Answer is planning to replace hostas with plants more suitable to her climate, like Brunnera. Linda Vater mentioned that she’ll only grow hostas in containers now.
All I can say is, finally, something I can grow in zone 4b that gardeners in warmer climates find difficult! I must say that usually it is the other way around. There are all kinds of plants that simply won’t survive our harsh winters.
How about you? Can you grow hostas successfully in your garden? Leave a comment and let me know.