Hooray For Hostas!

May 25, 2012

I think that a well-designed garden should have good green foliage, as this is where the eye can take a rest from all the other colours going on in the garden. Foliage also adds shape, form and texture to the garden and complements flowers.

One super plant that provides excellent elegant large foliage interest is the Hosta, Plantain lily. This perennial produces long stems with bell-shaped flowers, but this plant is mainly grown for its architectural foliage, which on some varieties can be up to fourteen inches long, and the whole plant can grow to a height of three feet tall.

The bold Hosta leaf comes in four main shapes: ovate, lance, round and heart-shaped and many Hostas also have lovely attractive variegated markings of white or yellow. Hostas come in a wide range of different lush shades of greens, from lime greens through to glaucous grey-blue leaves.

Most Hostas are clump forming perennials and like to grow in moisture-retentive fertile but well drained soil with a bit of shelter from cold drying winds. Hostas also prefer a full or partial shady site and don’t like the soil to dry out, so remember to give them a good mulching each spring to conserve moisture. A regular feed of nitrogen will also keep Hostas in tiptop condition.

The only down side to Hostas are that they are one the favourite foods to slugs and snails (see last week’s article) and after these pests have fed on them they can end up looking very much like lace curtains. Professional growers are now trying to produce Hostas with tougher leaves so that they’re not so tasty to slugs and snails. I personally grow my Hostas in containers to minimise slug and snail damage and use a John Innes No 2 compost with some grit to help drainage.

Hostas are so versatile as they can be used in many ways and in different styles of gardens. They can also be grown as individual specimen plants or ground cover and I think they really look super around ponds or water features.

My favourite Hosta is the Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans as it has rounded heart-shaped, heavily deeply puckered glaucous grey-blue leaves and this specimen makes a wonderful planting combination with my contrasting red Acer and the lovely deeply cut fronds of ferns.

So, for super irresistible foliage plants for a garden, Hostas certainly get my vote.



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