As I was walking along my shade garden on this summer day I took extra notice at the wonderful array of hosta that have matured to become beautiful focal points over the years. Hosta are a hardy and reliable herbaceous perennial that never seem to fail in adding some desired brightness to a shady area. Grown for their beautiful foliage there are so many varieties to choose from. The magnificent foliage of hosta comes in a variety of sizes, colors and texture ranging from the giant green and cream crinkled leaves of 'Francee Williams' to the smaller more compact smoother variegated leaves of 'Golden Tiarra'. Colors range from green to golden to blue and white in a multitude of combinations of variegation with over 2,500 cultivars available.
Some of my favorite hostas are:
|Hosta 'Francee Williams'
Francee Williams'-2-3' in diameter, large green leaves with cream colored variegation and purple flowers in July-August
Patriot'- 15-18" dark green leaves with wide white margins and lavender blooms July-August
|Hosta 'Fire & Ice'
'Fire & Ice' - 20 " heart shaped leaves with white center and dark green margin and lavender blooms in July- August
Golden Tiarra'-12" diameter compact form, green with gold edges and deep purple flowers in July-August
Hosta are extremely versatile and can be grown in a large range of areas including hardiness zones 2-10. They prefer to be grown in full to partial shade in a well drained moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. While hosta are shade tolerant they do not thrive in extremely dense shade and optimum conditions are an exposure with morning sun and out of the direct sun in afternoon. In general, the yellow and white leaf varieties will tend to tolerate more sun and the blue leaf varieties prefer more shady conditions. Hosta do prefer moisture so at least an inch of watering a week is recommended.
Hosta are not "deer resistant" or "rabbit resistant" and are actually a preferred snack for our four-legged friends. Astilbe, Liriope or Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) could serve as deer resistant alternatives among other selections.
Maintenance of hosta is relatively simple. To propogate hosta divide in spring when new foliage is just emerging. With a sharp spade cleanly divide the plant into equal parts no smaller than at least three rhizomes (about 6" in diameter). Dig a hole that is wider and deeper than the clump you are transplanting. Plant and water throughly until your new plant is established and enjoy! For winter maintenance remove all expired foliage to prevent fungal disease and keep a layer of mulch around the crown of the plant for protection.
If you are looking to add a little color to a your shade garden then hosta could be the perennial for you. Add some companion plants such as astilbe, coral bells and ajuga and you can have a colorful and enjoyable garden that will give you years of enjoyment!
As Always...Happy Gardening!