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May 8, 2018 > Hostas


By Pat Kite

I don?t know why I bought three Hostas, since I had no idea what they were. Like other plant people, I attended the Home and Garden Show. Among the displays, there was a lady selling packaged Hosta rhizomes. Already having a cartload of other plants, I tried to ignore the offering. Useless. So, I glanced at the labels. All of them mentioned Shade or semi-shade. The only empty spots in my overgrown back yard are in full shade. So, I picked three of the abundant offerings. Now I know something about Hostas. Let me share.

There are over 3,000 Hosta varieties, ranging in size from miniatures, happy in small pots, to those achieving three feet in height and six feet in width. According to references, all Hostas are very hardy. Parentage is from Asian countries, but hybridization is ample. Alternate names are Plantain Lily, Giboshi, Funkia, and Niobe. They don?t need oodles of water, but they are happier if watered regularly in dry summers. Medium-size green leaves are most common, with some having yellow, gold, or white margins or speckles. Bell-shaped midsummer flowers can be purple, lavender or white, and are quite attractive. A few are fragrant, such as August Lily (Hosta plantaginea). Some species are described as ?vigorous? and some are ?slow-growing.?

Some folks have entire gardens made up solely of Hostas. Because of hybridization and misnaming, it is best to see the growing plant before you buy. To do this, you might consider going to a Hosta specialist. Better yet, look up American Hosta Society on the Internet. If you don?t do Internet, write to AHS Membership Secretary, PO Box 7539, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina 27948.

Hostas are perennial, but they do sleep during the winter. There are few disease or insect enemies, but deer, rabbits, voles, slugs and snails can be a pest. Hostas with thicker or waxy leaves are more resistant to slugs and snails. A gardener suggestion is strewing sand lightly around the Hostas.

To give some idea of variety, here?s a few: ?Francee? gets to 15 inches, white border on dark green leaves. Dwarf form ?Blue Cadet? has blue-green leaves. ?Fragrant Gold? gets to 18 inches and can tolerate some sun. Leaves are pale yellow. ?Patriot? has green and white leaves, gets to 22 inches high. ?Tiny Tears? only reaches three inches high and six inches wide. ?Vanilla Cream? is only five inches high, ideal for pots. There are also those getting quite wide.

In my local garden, the three I bought are seemingly quite happy. In one reference, this is the opening Hosta sentence. ?Daylilies maybe kings of the sun, but unquestionably Hostas are the emperors of the shade.? I am so lucky to have a garden to play in. You too.

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