Hostas are an easy to grow perennial that is shade tolerant. They are originally from Japan, China, and Korea and were introduced to Europe in the 1700s. They were introduced to the United States in the 1800s. There are more than 2,500 cultivars on the market, so there is a hosta for almost anyone.
Hostas range from the tiny 18 cm ‘Baby Bunting’ to the very large ‘Blue Angel’ which can reach eight feet tall and eight feet in diameter. This means it is important to select a hosta that will fit into your garden space and not outgrow it. It can take four to eight years for a hosta to reach its mature size.
Hosta leaves come in a variety of colors: blue, green, yellow, white, variegated, or gold. The blue color is actually a green leaf with a wax on it that makes it appear blue. This wax will melt in hot temperatures or in the sun. Some plants have leaves that start out yellow or variegated and turn to dark green as they get older.
Hostas do have flowers, although they are planted primarily for their showy foliage. The flowers are spikes of lavender to white flowers that resemble lilies.
Hostas are considered shade tolerant plants. They do best with morning sun and afternoon sun. They do not grow well in deep shade or in full sun. Too much sun will cause burning along the leaves and can kill the plant. Blue leaf varieties are the least sun tolerant.
Hostas must have well drained, rich beds to do well. Soil should be cultivated twelve to sixteen inches deep. Six inches of compost, peat moss, or other organic matter should be spread on the bed then worked into the soil. This will also raise the bed slightly, improving drainage.
The ideal pH for hostas is 6.5 to 7.5. Peat moss will tend to lower the pH while lime will tend to raise it.
To plant hostas properly, one must dig a hole then form a small cone of soil at the bottom of the hole. If the hosta is in a container, shake all the dirt off of it and do not use that dirt in the hole. If you order hostas from the mail or on the internet, they will probably come as bare roots. Soak then in tepid water for thirty minutes before planting. For both types of hostas, set the crown of the hosta on the top of the cone and arrange the roots so they fan out around the cone. Then fill in the hole with the soil you took out of it. You want the hosta to be planted so that the area where the leaves and roots meet is at ground level. Water the plant in thoroughly.
Hostas need a minimum of one inch a week of water. They should be watered all at once to stimulate the roots to grow deep. Many shallow waterings keep the roots on the surface and the plants will not stand a stiff wind.
Hostas need to be fertilized in mid April, mid May, and mid July with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package for amounts needed.