Hosta: A Shade Plant

Hosta in bloom

Hosta in bloom
Hosta in bloom | Source


Everyone is always looking for a plant that will do well in the shade. Anyone who has been gardening for a while knows that plant is Hosta! Not known for it's beautiful flowers, though it does flower, it is more well known for it's beautiful leaves. It is said there are over 3,000 registered varieties of hosta...that's a lot of hosta, and with that much hosta there is also an American Hosta Society. Believe it or not there was somebody named Hosta! Nicholas Thomas Austrian botanist. He was the first director of the botanical gardens at the Belvedere Palace in Austria and though I can't find why, the hosta plant was named for him.

Most people just want a plant they can put in the shade that will add some interest rather than having a barren spot in the shade. Hosta is definitely your answer. Hosta will grow in the sun but too much sun will cause leaf curl, but more about that later. The best part is once their colorful leaves appear they stay until autumn. You can find mini-hosta plants or you can go with hosta plants that have giant leaves or grow six feet across! On the other hand, there are also miniature hostas.

Golden or white-variegeted are among the most popular.

Light Green leaf hosta

Large, light leaf hosta
Large, light leaf hosta | Source

Easy to Grow

Hostas are easy to plant them and off they go! Even though they do well in shade, complete, dense shade may stunt their growth though some hostas grow better in deep shade than others. Hostas with blue leaves do better in more shade, while hostas with green or yellow leaves prefer more sun.

I mentioned leaf curl early will see leaf curl (actual curling and drying of leaves) if your hosta is getting too much sun. Morning sun or a little afternoon sun is enough for most hostas. Though you may have some leaf curl it hostas will continue on anyway, bold little plants that they are.

Try to plant your hostas in a shady spot where they can get morning sun but only a little afternoon sun. The sun in the south is stronger than the sun in the north so be more shade conscious in the south. Since hostas are not overly fond of heat though, you may have difficulty growing them in the south.

As with any plant, a little compost or mulching goes a long way.

Hostas like their roots wet so when you water them do a deep watering (making sure enough water gets down to the roots). If you have sandy soil like me and/or if it's a dry season water them more frequently to keep those roots happy.

Dividing Hostas

Hostas are 'self propogating' and will spread on their own. It will probably take two or three years but you will notice your plants are not only fuller but getting crowded, you may also notice some brown leaves in the middle of your plant. Time to divide. The best part is, when you divide them you wind up with two or more plants. You can plant them somewhere else on your property or share them with a friend!

It is best to divide hosta in the spring though I've done it throughout the summer and never had any problem. The only thing is the leaves will wilt and they won't grow as well the year of the transplant if you do it after early spring. In early spring the leaves are small or not visible and it is easier to divide them and they respond better.

When you dig up your hosta you will see what you thought was one plant is made up of many little plants. Separate them and plant each one separately. When you separate make sure the 'clump' you are separating has at least three little shoots coming from it so it will be strong enough to "survive on it's own". When you 're-plant' make sure the depth is about the same as it was for the original plant, you don't want them too deep or too shallow. Remember to keep the plants watered well after division to give them a good start.

Hostas in different stages of growth

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Variegated hostaHosta getting read to bloomFlowers waiting to bloomFlowers in bloomSolid colored hostaRow of hostas, only their second yearRecently transplanted hosta
Variegated hosta
Variegated hosta | Source
Hosta getting read to bloom
Hosta getting read to bloom | Source
Flowers waiting to bloom
Flowers waiting to bloom | Source
Flowers in bloom
Flowers in bloom | Source
Solid colored hosta
Solid colored hosta | Source
Row of hostas, only their second year
Row of hostas, only their second year | Source
Recently transplanted hosta
Recently transplanted hosta | Source

Flowers on Hostas

What about the flowers on Hostas? They are dainty and appear every year without fail. When the blooms fade though you are left with empty looking stalks. As soon as the flowers have finished blooming you can cut their stalks off. Actually you should cut them to give the hosta plant more strength.

Though short-lived, the hosta's flowers can be sweet and slightly a result they will often attract humming birds. They can bloom anytime between June and October but I have noticed in my yard they usually bloom around the end of June or beginning of July depending on the weather. For some reason they say the white hosta flowers are more fragrant than the lavender. As new hostas are hybridized better flowers are appearing, well not appearing but growing on hostas, bigger, longer lasting and more fragrant.

Hosta Pests

Hosta are also popular with animals, deer, rabbit, voles, slugs, and snails can be a major problem. Beer traps come highly recommended to kill slugs and snails. A beer trap is simply a container filled with beer. The slugs are attracted to the beer, climb into the container and drown. Make sure the container is actually deep enough for them to drown. A plastic cup, yogurt container or the like will do. Bury your container into the ground, fill it with beer, and wait to pick out the slugs and snails. Make sure the container is close enough to the plant to be effective. If you have a dog you may have to alter your container or he'll be drinking the beer. Of course you can hand pick the slugs and snails but you must be sure to stomp on the snails to kill them ore they will just come right back.

Just FYI, if you're having problems with slugs and snails in your flower pot, line the rim of the flower pot with copper and they will not cross it.

While not a pest, keeping your hosta too wet can cause crown rot. It is a preventable disease that will result in yellowing leaves and stunted growth.

Would you grow hosta?

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So, what have you learned about hostas?

  1. Easy to grow shade loving plants
  2. Blue leaf hosta prefers more shade; green and yellow leaf hosta prefers more sun.
  3. Early morning sun or filtered afternoon shade are best
  4. Hostas are hardy plants

Now to leave you with a few facts to help you with your hosta plants:

  1. When planting don't plant clumps of hosta too close together
  2. If possible group hosta with other shade loving plants like astible
  3. Hosta can be planted under maple trees
  4. Hostas with yellow/gold leaves should be planted in sun
  5. There are variegated leaves among some hostas
  6. Hosta is an effective, easy care ground cover

I hope you've found this hub interesting. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask and/or leave a comment in the comments section below.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

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Comments 70 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oddly enough, Mary, I have never grown a hosta, even though they are abundant here in Washington. I actually like them very much but for whatever reason have never grown them. Great information and may have sold me on them.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Wow! I can't believe you've never grown one...I know you won't be sorry, they're easy to grow and come in so many sizes and colors. BTW thanks for being the first to read this! Have a great day (what's left of it).

Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Yes, yes, yes. I love them and have some in my yard too!! Good hub!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Hey Til.....of course bil was the first to don't KNOW about him yet? Oh yeah....the guy's a stalker! Keep your eyes peeled the next time you're in the garden. I guarantee you catch him hiding under your hostas!! are like the Jolly Green-thumb Giant!!! I am so impressed with your vast knowledge of all things that are planted! Wouldn't a greenhouse be a fabulous business for you to run? Of course, once all your educational hubs on gardening hit won't need the money!

Will you remember me when you're rich and famous?? UP +++

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Pavlo thank you! so glad you enjoyed and stopped by.

Okay, Effer, first, I check under my plants every day and so far no Bill! I'll keep looking though cause I know he'd make me laugh.

Second, I really do have a green thumb with all outside plants...inside/house plants I kill quickly.

If I ever get rich and famous I'll take you with me ;)

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

My bags are packed and ready to go!

Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Your gardening hubs are truly awesome. You do as Effer says, have an encyclopedic knowledge of these specimens and it is kind of you to share this with us. The pics are impressive too.

As for Billus Hollandi, I believe it grows wild in hubland, spreading everywhere with little encouragement, but is a kind, wise and generous plant prone to waving in the wind .

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Mohan. I do love my garden and photos and writing and grandchildren...oh, I guess I'd better stop.

Thank you for the classification on the Billus Hollandi, I might have pulled him out by the roots if I didn't know he was kind, maybe I can plant him behind a fence so we don't have to worry about him waving in the wind.

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I love Hosta's and yet I don't have any in my garden!

Time to plant some - many thanks for a very useful and interesting article, voting up.

Best wishes Lesley

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Lesley. I'm finding out not as many people as I thought have hosta in their garden! Have a good one.

molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

I love these shade plants that can be source of cuttings for futher planting. I haven't had the hosta so will have to give them a look.

Well written useful and informative hub. Great video and photos too.

Voted up and sharing.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks molometer. Always interesting to know what folks think 'across the sea', and thanks for the vote and sharing as well!

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I know this plant, in fact I have grown this in my garden, but did not know it was called hosta in English.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

How interesting Vinaya. What name do you have for this plant?

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

I like hostas. I'm a tree hugger and have many in my yard so shade plants are a good idea in some areas.

Are they related to caladiums or elephant ears?

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

I've been looking for shade loving plants, but I never thought of the hosta. It'd be perfect for the shady side of my house! My gram loves them and has them all over her property; I'll have to see if she's willing to part with a cutting or new growth. :) Great hub! Thanks for sharing all of this useful information!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Hostas are great plants. I think I have eight all together. When we bought this house there were 3 I think and since then I've split them as they were huge. I have a huge plant that I've never known the name for it and I've always called it an elephant plant as the leaves are huge on it. Just noticed that Pam was asking about elephant ears.

Jeff Gamble profile image

Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

Hostas are great - I don't use them as much down here as I did up north. They are so durable, and you are right, they can go anywhere and thrive. Great Hub!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Pamela, the elephant ear is actually a variety of hosta. The caladium is a different plant but may be lumped together because of it's shade loving properties.

PracticalMommy, all you have to do is dig a little piece off of one of your gram's lovely growing hostas and you'll be in business!

JustAskSusan, as you can see from answer to Pam, elephant ears are hostas.

Jeff glad you enjoyed the hub. Not sure how Texas heat and sun would affect the shade loving hosta.

lovesleftovers profile image

lovesleftovers 4 years ago from Texas

I love hostas! I've always found them easy to grow, divide and transplant. When I still lived in NY and went on my daily walks I always passed by a garden where hostas were planted in the direct afternoon sun. They always looked so yellowed and awful. I can't tell you how many times I was tempted to knock on the door and tell them to transplant those poor hostas in a shady location. Great, informative Hub! Voted up, etc., etc. and shared :)

msviolets profile image

msviolets 4 years ago

I think I need to go invest in some Hostas! My yard is shaped oddly, so it gets sun in spots all day, but there's a lot of shade from trees, fences, buildings, etc.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Lovesleftovers I think I would've felt the same way...couldn't they see they were killing the poor hostas...or at least making them suffer?

Msviolets, they'd do great in your backyard.

pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

Voted up, beautiful, interesting, useful and interesting. The piece you wrote on hosta plants was informative and the pictures were beautiful. You covered a wide array of areas a hosta grower may have concerns about. I am so disappointed that I can't grow this plant on my property. You see, the hosta is like eye candy to the deer and they devour them in a nighttime. I have one lonely plant snuggled in between my lilac trees in the corner of my house and yet somehow the deer manage to attack that one as well.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Oh I know Pagesvoice, the rabbits love them too! Thanks for the votes.

LauraGT profile image

LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

Great hub, thanks! We planted some hostas last year and I wondering when to divide. Thanks for the tips.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Only too happy to help Laura. Its always nice to know your hub has been of some value to someone else!

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

This looks like a great plant but my yard is inundated with sun most of the day so I don't think this would do too well with me. Voting this Up and Useful.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

You're right alocsin, too much sun burns the leaves though they will grow. Thanks for stopping by.

tsmog profile image

tsmog 4 years ago from Escondido, CA

Very awesome. I needed these tips. Last year I tried to grow a blue hosta on my covered front porch. There is a screen on the front filtering the sun, yet I think it was still too much. Or, I didn't get the watering down right. I use the same drip system for all the plants on the porch, yet they are adjustable. Maybe next year. I learned I will try a lighter leaf colored plant next time. Thank you for the well received advice


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Tim, so glad you found this useful! Hostas will grow pretty much anywhere but they do get temperamental where hot sun is involved.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

A nice page of advice tillsontitan about a group of plants which will grow and provide ground cover and a rich variety of shades of green in areas where little else will flourish ie: shady corners. I've grown about half a dozen kinds, though slugs and snails have been a problem. Many people, I'm sure, would find them a welcome addition to the garden. A useful introduction to a useful plant genus.Voted up. Alun.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Alun. I've always found them useful and nice to look at too!

Jennifer Stone profile image

Jennifer Stone 4 years ago from the Riverbank, England

Thanks for this information, I have a hosta that I grow in a shady spot in a big planter, it does ok, but only ever has one flower every year, and gets attacked by snails! I think also it may not get enough water after reading your hub... great hub and beautifully presented, love the photo's... voted up and stuff, Jen

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Glad I could help Jen. They do like a little sun, preferably morning. Bugs/snails can be an issue anywhere. Thanks for the votes.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

The Hosta is one of my favorite plants. I love the texture and color of the leaves. Great informative Hub.

I voted it UP, etc.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Glad you enjoyed Mary. One of the nice things about hosta is the variety of colors and sizes you can get.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

I've heard of hostas but knew little about them. We have a shady garden (a giant willow provides the shade) so this is very useful information for me. Voted up and sharing.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Great! They should fill in nicely under your tree and the little flowers early in the season are lovely.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I love Hostas and have a few. They are very hardy and just pop up each year. I have the green leaf type and the flowering period is very short. They look gorgeous though. This year - the extreme heat really stunted them and the leaves got brown. But they will be back in full bloom next spring I'm sure:)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

They certainly will Realhousewife...this year I cut all the stalks off after the flowers died and now they're blooming again! The stalks grew back with buds and they're opening as I type! I'm amazed.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Hostas are one of my favorite plants. I have many different varieties. I do struggle with them during the really hot part of summer, but I am finding out the best places for them in my yard with a little trial and error. Great hub! Voted up useful, interesting and sharing! I would like to share on My Flower Garden Get A Way blog, if that is ok with you. :)

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I love hostas because they grow here. They don't mind if we get 40 below. I don't think I have ever lost one of my hostas. Voted uP!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

SG I would be happy to have you share on your blog! What an honor...glad you enjoyed my hub and know what you mean about the hot part of summer, they get a little wilty here too.

Moonlake, same here. Thanks for stopping by.

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

Although I generally prefer plants with more showy flowers, I do love hostas. They are so easy to grow and fill in some very difficult shady, damp places that might otherwise be barren. When I moved to my current house, there was one very large hosta plant in my front flower bed. I dug it up and separated it into more than a dozen small plants that have grown into a lovely border along the foundation of my front porch. We do live in the south, but the hostas still do well in shady areas. Would love to have some of the other varieties you've shown!

I see that you're from NY. I loved to visit Cornell Plantations' beautiful Hosta Garden when I lived near Ithaca. I think you'd like it.

Voted up and shared!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Hostas are certainly unique plants in all their varieties. I have them all around my pool and it's a joy to see them come up every spring. If I ever get upstate again I will certainly check out Cornell Plantations' Hosta Garden. Thanks for the tip and the voters and share.

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 3 years ago from Oklahoma

Beautiful hub! I love hostas! I don't have any yet, because I don't have adequate shade, and the blistering Oklahoma sun would make short work of the delicate leaves. My mother has some very lovely hostas in her yard. Reading this reminded me of how much I want one! And the pictures! Wow! Love that variegated hosta! Voting, sharing and more.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Sharkye, but you are right...too much sun just cooks hostas. I have one or two that wind up with wilted leaves by summer's end. Glad you liked my pictures, they are one thing we grow big here ;)

creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 3 years ago from Maine

Hostas are one of the most beautiful outdoor green plants ever. They are so study and strong. I have several hostas and constantly divide them. Didn't realize that there are over 3000 varieties of them. Wow! Excellent hub!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I can't attest to all 3,000 but know I have several in my yard...the only plant besides the coral bell, that I have so many varieties of. I know, you can divide these plants every year and provide an entire neighborhood with hostas!

bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi Mary-Tilly mint.

Variegated Hostas in particular will really brighten up a shady spot, and the darker leafed varieties make a good foil for more colourful shade loving plants. Maybe you don´t have this problem where you live, but in climates similar to the UK where we get a lot of rain, slugs and snails just love to munch on Hosta leaves, sprinkling a good layer of crushed egg shells or sharp gravel around the plants will help to keep the little blighters away though. Lovely hub Mary and your Hostas look first class :)

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

I once had several varieties of hostas that I enjoyed very much, but that was when my lawn had shade. A 2007 tornado destroyed most of the trees--all of the hardwoods--and left no shady areas. The only plants I can have are those that require "full sun."

Your hostas are lovely. I especially love the variegated one.

Voted Up++


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thanks so much Jaye. Sorry to hear you lost all your hardwood trees, that must've been heartbreaking.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

B2B, our problem is rabbits! I have a four foot fence around my yard but the little buggers get under it and they love hosta! They really are easy to grow though, plant them and forget them! Thanks for stopping by it is always good to see you. Have a good one.

bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi againTilly. I have an idea for you to stop the rabbits. Dig a trench under the bottom of your fence, it only needs to be about 6 inches deep, and bury more wire netting in this to attach to your existing fence, this will stop them getting under. Just a thought for you :)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Just a thought my friend, but a good one. Guess I'll have to go buy some wire netting :)

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

My first question, where we live, is always, "but are they attractive to gophers?" We have "robo-gophers" around here, and to survive, plants must be handled one of three ways: 1) planted within a chicken wire 'bucket,' 2) planted in an above-ground planter, or 3) some species repulsive to, or at least not interesting to gophers.

The area we have where one of these plants would be nice is near some heavy gopher activity.....and potted plants don't usually do as well, because of extra watering requirements....

Very interesting, and so voted, as well as up and useful.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

We have moles rather than gophers but they don't eat plants, just dig around them so I really don't have an answer for your horrible gopher problem! I can't imagine how frustrating they must be. I have grown hostas in pots and they come back year after year in the pot. I have sandy soil so I do water once a day in the summer but otherwise they do well.

Thanks for the votes!

ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

I did not realize there were so many different varieties of hostas. I have never seen a blue leaf hosta. I was able to take three HUGE hostas that had been planted by the previous owner and divide them so that I ended up with 24. I took these and spread them around the perimeter of my upper property which has made me much happier than having the three huge ones taking up all of my flower bed space. Great information. Thank You.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I know exactly what you mean ocfireeflies. I divided up two hosyas to go all the way around my 15 foot (across)swimming pool. The best thing is they need so little care. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas

Time to start sprucing up the yard. Well, it might be a couple more weeks up in North country, but here in Texas spring has sprung and flowers are appearing everywhere. What lovely plants for the shade! This great article should give yard sprucers something to think about if they're looking for a way to make the shady parts of their yards come alive. Excellent article packed with information! Voted up and BAUI.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York Author

You'll love hostas, they really are a great plant..we have snow forecasted for tomorrow so it's hard to think about spring, it was 20 degrees this morning.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 23 months ago from sunny Florida

These are a great plant for sure. I have some but not nearly enough of them. Planning to add more this spring as soon as I get moved.

They are happy little plants that ask so little of me.

Thanks for sharing.

Angels are once again on the way to you this morning ps

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York Author

I know Patricia they are such easy, lovely plants. I am so glad I was introduced to them. Hugs and blessings.

Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 21 months ago from Shimla, India

Thanks for the information on this wonderful plant. Voted up :)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York Author

You are most welcome Akriti. Thanks for the vote.

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 21 months ago

I used to have one of these when I grew a bird garden. I think that it was one of their favorites. I voted up, shared and pinned it.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York Author

Examiner it is one of the easiest plants to grow and if it grows in my sandy soil it'll grow anywhere. Thanks for the votes and the great shares!

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 21 months ago

Yes, Mary, I remember that and the leaves were shady too. I grew it beside my garden pond. The fish loved it and the birds enjoyed taking baths in the pond because of it.


sheilamarie78 profile image

sheilamarie78 20 months ago

My Dad had lots of hosta growing around the house. I need to get some for my garden.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Funny sheilamarie how we remember plants by people in our past! Hope you get some and enjoy them.

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