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Plant Spotlight: Hostas

Updated on March 25, 2015
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer & gardener with an extensive knowledge of plants and plant care. Her articles focus on easy care tips for home gardeners.

Hostas in the front yard border
Hostas in the front yard border | Source

Hosta Origins

Most Hosta varieties originated from Japan in the mid-1800's when they were first introduced to Europe. There are around 45 different cultivars of Hosta and around 3.000 different names currently on the market. Hostas come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. All varieties produce blooms mid-summer. Some are more fragrant than others. The fragrant varieties are newer hybrids that were specifically bred for their scent.

Hosta: A Variety of Types

There are so many types on the market today, it is hard to go through each and every variety. Generally, they can be broken down into a few categories:

  • Extra Large-these a bred to be super-sized and can reach up to 4 feet with huge leaves. (example Empress Woo variety)
  • Standard-your typical sized variety reaching about 2 feet in height with tall, spikes of flowers.
  • Miniature-these types are bred to be small. Perfect for containers or the front of the planting bed. (example Mouse Ears variety)

Aside from the range in sizes, they come in all sorts of colors ranging from dark grass green, greenish-blue, variegated green with white, lime green and yellow/white varieties.

Did You Know?

Not only are bees attracted to the lavender, sweet smelling flowers, but don't be surprised to find a Hummingbird or two coming by for a visit!

Hosta Bloom
Hosta Bloom | Source

Hosta Care

Hostas are very easy to grow and are not very picky on their soil requirements. For those who have heavy clay soils, they are excellent growers. They prefer full-shade to part-shade, although there are some newer varieties that can take full-sun (check your plant labels).

Splitting Hostas

Every two to three years, it is a good idea to split your hostas. This will keep the plants healthy, prevent over-crowding and you get rewarded with new plants! In spring once growth has popped out of the ground, dig the entire plant and separate into clumps. You can separate it into as many as you like. Place one clump back in the hole and use the others in different areas of your garden. This can be done spring though early summer. Another way to create more plants is to cut one of the leaves at the base and root it in water. Once roots form, you can then plant it in a new spot in your garden.

How to Divide Your Hosta

Hosta "Lime Piecrust"
Hosta "Lime Piecrust" | Source

Potential Problems

While easy to grow, Hostas don't come without some potential problems, namely pests. Hosta leaves are very attractive to deer. They can decimate a plant in a few minutes with their ravenous spring appetites, so make sure you plant Hostas in an area out of reach of deer. The second potential pest are slugs. Slugs can be easily combatted in a few ways:

  • Hand-pick them off the plants and then squish them or drown them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • create bait by filling shallow containers with beer. The beer attracts the slugs, they climb in and drown.
  • Purchase a product like Sluggo from your garden center retailer.
  • Make or purchase copper collars to put around the base of your plants. Trust me, it works!

Inspecting your plants every few days is a good idea to catch potential problems early.

Hosta coming out of the ground in spring
Hosta coming out of the ground in spring | Source
A trio of hostas
A trio of hostas | Source

Did you know?

Hostas are edible! The early spring shoots and leaves are preferred in some cultures (i.e. Japan). The flowers are also edible.

Hostas in Bloom
Hostas in Bloom | Source

A Very Versatile Plant

As you can see, Hostas are very easy to care for. They are the perfect plant for beginner gardeners not sure what to plant in their shaded area.

Because they come in a wide variety of sizes, you can choose the size that works best for your application, even if you prefer to grow them in containers!

Don't forget to divide your Hostas every couple of years. If you don't want or have room for the divisions, giving them to family or friends is a great option. Or you can trade with neighbors for something they might have growing in their garden that you would like in yours. I've also seen Hosta divisions for sale at garage sales!

I hope you enjoyed this article and visit some of my other hubs!

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo

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