Just because it is winter doesn’t mean we can’t start planning our beautiful spring garden. In fact, it is the time of year many of you will start designing your gardens and perusing plant catalogs looking for the perfect plant to fit your design. A tried and true perennial for most any garden is the Hosta, known for its beautiful foliage.

The History of the Hosta

The Hosta plant originated in Asia (Japan, China & Korea), made its way through Europe in the late 1700’s and then found its way to the United States in the middle 1800’s. Known as an extremely hardy and dependable herbaceous perennial with beautiful foliage, the hosta is easy to grow, does well in shaded areas and comes in many shapes, colors, sizes and textures.

Growth and Care

Hostas grow best in rich organic soil that is drained well and has a slightly acidic pH and are a great plant for anyone in Zones 3 through 10!

Planting:  Dig a hole at least a foot deep to plant a new hosta and the width of the hole should be approximately 1 ½ the size of the anticipated mature clump.

Water:  Water plays an important part in the health and longevity of your plant. A minimum of one inch of water per week is recommended, this amount will vary depending on the soil the plant is planted in. Early morning watering is highly recommended.

Sun:  The Hosta only requires a few hours of morning sunlight to grow and is a plant that prefers to be in the shade out of the direct sun. Color variations of blues, greens and golds occur based on how much direct sun they receive.

  • Blue = open shade with no direct sun
  • Green or Gold = more sun and plenty of water

Temperature: Hostas are known to grow larger and produce more intense color in cooler climates.

Easy Dividing

Propagation of hostas is easily achieved by dividing existing plants. Division should be done when no shoots are growing from the center of a mature clump. Once you have dug out the entire clump, make sure to wash the soil from the root. If you can easily pull away the divisions, do so; however, you may not be able to and will require a sharp knife to make cuts. If you need to use a knife, make sure to keep washing the root and be careful to keep as many leaves as possible and a balanced set of roots on each division. Division can occur anytime from spring to 30 days before the first frost date is anticipated; however, the best time to divide is summer when the soil is warmer, the humidity is higher and the plant is actively producing new roots. When replanting make sure to not let the roots get too dry and keep them very moist for the first few weeks of regrowth!

Interesting Facts

While most gardeners know Hostas are a favorite food for deer, slugs and snails, did you know they are also edible to humans? In Japan, Hostas are called "urui" where they are commonly consumed. The parts eaten and the manner of preparation differ depending on the species; in some cases it is the shoots, others the leaf petiole, others the whole leaf. Younger parts are generally preferred as being more tender than older parts, while the flowers are also edible.

Notable Cultivars

Hybridization within and among species and cultivars has produced numerous cultivars, with over 3000 registered and named varieties, and perhaps as many more that are not yet registered with the American Hosta Society.

  • Hosta agavaceae ‘The Fragrant Bouquet’ - As the name would indicate, a fragrant plant with green apple leaves that are wavy, wide and marked with irregular yellow margins.
  • Hosta agavaceae ‘Francee’ - Green leaves with white edges.
  • Hosta agavaceae ‘Gold Standard’ - Yellow leaves with green edges.
  • Hosta agavaceae ‘Guacamole’ - The reverse of the Fragrant Bouquet – irregular green margins and somewhat golden center.
  • Hosta agavaceae ‘June’ - Dark bluish leaves with shades of yellow and yellow-green.  Very irregular dark green margins.
  • Hosta agavaceae ‘Patriot’ - Medium green leaves with creamy yellowish/white margins.