1 Jun

As we prepare for our landscape installation, I’m trying to educate myself about the flora that I will soon be charged with caring for. We already have several hostas in the front beds, but I’ve honestly never put much work into them at all. A friend was moving and had some in containers that she wasn’t able to take with her, so I inherited them, and after planting them, I’ve really let them be. Fortunately (for them), that is pretty much all they require! šŸ™‚

Hostas are shade tolerant (although they like some sun, just not too much) herbaceous perennials, and they come with beautiful foliage. Hostas were once called “plantain lilies,” as they were once thought to have a heritage associated with lilies, but that has been debunked. “That’s just patently not true” is how one hosta expert said it. Hostas are originally from Asia (as it seems that most of the plants I’ll be installing are), and arrived in North America in the 1800s. Up to 45 species may be out there, although there is a lot of discussion about how relevent that is, given how frequently hostas (and plants in general) are cross-bred and in bred and all that good stuff. Let me tell you, people sure are opinionated when you start in on hosta-speak! Hosta-people are very passionate about their pretty plant – not that that’s a bad thing.

The “empress wu” variety is the largest at this point, with a leaf measurement of 61 cm, sometimes reaching 4′ in height. There are also many varieties that are classified as “miniature.” Varieties known as ‘Sagae’, ‘Liberty’ and ‘June’ have been consistently popular for several years.

“Sagae” hosta, image courtesy of MN Hosta Society

“Liberty” hosta, image courtesy of Hirt’s Garden








“June”, image courtesy of New Hampshire Hosta society

What do I need to know to grow happy hostas?

  • Prior to planting
  1. Amend the soil, including about 1/3 of the original native soil, 1/3 peat or similar and/or 1/3 pine bark.
  2. Select a location that gets some sun, preferably in the morning, but significant shade as well.
  3. The hole in which the hosta is going to live needs to be as deep as the root ball and 1.5x as wide.
  • After planting
  1. Fertilizer: 3-4x per year with a 10-10-10.
  2. Water: Hostas native environments gets 50-60 inches of rain, so water is necessary. Up to an inch/week in addition to the rain.
  3. Transplanting/Dividing: not required, but best in spring or late summer after the peak of the heat. Hostas are resilient, but they get stressed out and stressed out plants are nobody’s favorite things.
  4. Mulching: not required, but using pine straw as mulch can help ward off slugs (one of hosta’s primary enemies) and using double shredded hardwoods can aid in water retention (good for hostas, bad for people).
We still haven’t selected which varieties will make their home in our landscape. Any favorites out there?



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