Not just for the shade garden, the many varieties of hosta plants and their season long beauty make
this a staple of the garden. Usually, it is recommended for shade positions and in foliage combinations, but hosta plants
can take a partly sunny area and the blossoms (often fragrant) are not to be neglected.
Hostas come in many sizes, foliage shapes and colors, and with both lavendar and white blooms. They all, however, have a mounding form of growth;looking like a bell shaped fountain of water. They keep their beautiful leaves throughout the growing season provided that they are given moisture and not overun with slugs. Yes, slugs like these plants. The blooms come at varying times from July through August, on graceful upright stalks. They are of differing showiness with lavender or a beautiful white lily-like (thus the old name: plantain lily) shape and sweet fragrance.
Part sun to shade, good soil, and moisture are important, although I have some doing quite well under the dryness of trees (they just need to get established). It is a good idea to incorporate amendments such as peat moss or compost into the soil.
One thing you might want to be aware of: hostas take time to get accustomed, or settle into, their place in the garden. Like many of the more long-lived plants of the garden, the first two years or so of new plants are root-growing, settling-in time. The plants are much smaller than their advertised mature size, and the color may not be what you hoped; but once at home, the hosta can surprise you with the grandeur of their girth. Be sure to check the name and projected size of your variety. They range from a “minima” which is a very petite plant, to a very large specimen covering some feet in diameter. The color may dictate the amount of sunshine they should be exposed to, with some of the variegated and blue types needing protection from too much sun. When you want more of them, they can be divided, they don’t like to often be disturbed, though. Hostas should be divided in early spring as plants emerge. Dig the entire clump and separate into plants with a little root. Hostas do not widely spread unless you take the direct action of division, so are perfect companions in foundation plantings and over bulb beds. I especially like them with spring blooming bulbs because they are somewhat late in appearance,giving bulbs time to finish their performance and replenish strength through their leaves.
Hostas can take many years to mature, sometimes as many as four to five years. You can count the eyes, or points of growth, to check on your plants progress. Be patient.
Hardy in Zone 3 to 9, Hostas originated in the Asian countries of Japan, China, and Korea. If you read old garden books, they were called ‘Funkia’. My own personal preference is for the solid green leaves and pure white blooms of the “Royal Standard” variety. It has great beauty and stands out at a distance. Besides, it is fragrant, always a plus in my book.