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Hosta Hosta

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Hosta:

Previously known as:

  • Funkia
Phonetic Spelling
HOS-tah
Description

Hostas are a popular ornamental herbaceous perennial in the United States and are in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). They are native to China, Japan, Korea, and Far East Russia, and comprise 22 species and over 2000 cultivars. They were brought to the United States in the mid-1800s. They have a variety of leaf colors, sizes, shapes, and textures as well as flower colors. The blooms are trumpet or bell-shaped, and their colors range from shades of white, lavender and purple. Some hybrids may have flowers in shades of red, yellow and pink. The plant has a clumping habit and size varies from dwarf to giant depending on the variety. The genus name honors Nicholaus Thomas Host, a 19th-century Austrian physician and botanist.  

Hostas perform well in morning sun and dappled shade and in moist, slightly acidic soils that are rich in organic matter. It has been reported that blue-leaved forms require deep shade, while green-leaved types will accept partial shade. In the south it is best to plant hosta in full shade or dappled shade so that the foliage colors will be more vibrant and won't develop leaf burn. Hostas grow by rhizomes and need well-drained soil. They are intolerant to soggy soil conditions, especially during the winter.

Hostas require a dormant period with temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of months during the winter. The foliage dies back in late fall or winter when the temperatures drop to 28 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

For propagation, divide the hostas every 3 to 5 years in the early spring as leaves emerge from the ground. A faster method of propagation is tissue culture. Hostas may also be grown from seed; however, most varieties will not produce the same variety as the parent.   

There are 5 major leaf color categories per the American Hosta Society. They are: green, blue, gold, Medio-variegated (dark margins with a light center), and Marginal Variegated (light margins with a dark center).

The American Hosta Society also classifies the varieties of this plant according to the heights of the mature plants:

  • Dwarf:  less than 4 inches     
  • Miniature:  4 to 6 inches     
  • Small:  6 to 10 inches
  • Medium:  10 to 18 inches
  • Large:  18 to 28 inches
  • Giant:  greater than 28 inches

The most well-known species are Hosta plantaginea and Hosta sieboldiana. Hosta plantaginea originated in China and is very fragrant and tolerates heat. Hosta sieboldiana is from Japan and has waxy blue foliage and prefers shade and cooler temperatures.

Most species of hosta are grown for their large, striking foliage rather than their flowers. Plant them in mass in perennial beds or naturalized areas, as a border or edging, or in pond, rock, or shade gardens. Consider the dwarf and miniature plants for a rock garden or small areas. The small and medium size hosta are recommended as groundcovers. The large and giant plants provide background interest. They are slightly salt tolerant, and they are best planted in areas that are protected from wind and hail.

Seasons of Interest:  

Bloom: Summer                     Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • Acaulescent herb with parallel-veined leaves
  • Petioles sheathing, sulcate, sub peltate
  • Inflorescence scapose raceme, leafy-bracteate
  • Corollas tubular abruptly bell-shaped apically

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Monitor for snails, slugs, and nematodes among the leaves. Deer and rabbits enjoy the tender foliage. Leaf spot rarely occurs. Root and crown rot can occur in poorly drained soils. Plants may become infected with the Hosta Virus X, tobacco rattle virus, or tomato ringspot virus. If any of these are detected, the plant should be removed and destroyed. Hosta anthracnose will cause white spots with brown edges to form on the leaves and stalks and can be controlled by removing the leaves. Voles may destroy the plant by eating the roots. Wind and hail may damage exposed leaves. All parts of these plants are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Additional Hosta Images at Juniper Level Botanic Garden including Hosta Blue Mouse Ears Sports

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Collector’s Garden Courtyard Garden Shaded Slope Bird-Friendly Spaces Paths & Walkways Container Gardens Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Front Shade Garden Coastal Entryway Garden - Small Space Juniper Level Botanic Garden: Part Sun-Part Shade Garden Four-Season Garden Backyard Respite Landscape Fairy Gardens Shady Garden in Cabarrus County
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blazing Saddles'
    medium to large size, yellow marginal variegations changes to creamy white
  • 'Blue Cadet'
    medium size, rounded, heart-shaped blue to dark green leaves, lavender flowers
  • 'Blue Mammoth'
    giant size, 34 inches tall, 65 inches wide, deep blue-green leaves change to dark green, white blooms
  • 'Blue Mouse Ears' Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'
    small size, 8 inches tall, 19 inches wide, blue-green slightly cupped, nearly rounded leaves, pale purple blooms
  • 'Blue Pillow'
    medium to large, 18 inches tall, 48 inches wide, corrugated blue-green leaves, white flowers
  • 'Bressingham Blue'
    large size, thick layer of bloom on the bottom of the leaves, large nearly white flowers
  • 'Carolina Sunshine'
    medium size, elliptic to elliptic ovate green leaves with creamy yellow margins
  • 'Cathedral Windows'
    large size, thick leaves with dark green margins and fragrant, pale lavender blooms
  • 'Cowlick'
    miniature size, 4 inches tall, 15 inches wide, narrow, wavy green foliage, purple flowers on short stems
  • 'Empress Wu'
    giant size, up to 50 inches tall, 108 inches wide, dark green ovate leaves, 4 foot scapes
  • 'Fire and Ice'
    medium size, dark green leaves with white variegations in the center, lavender blooms
  • 'Fire Island'
    medium size, yellow to chartreuse, rippled leaves with lavender blooms
  • 'Francee'
    medium to dark green leaves with white marginal variegation, 42 inch scapes, lavender flowers
  • 'Gold Standard'
    large size, yellow medial variegations with green margins, lavender flowers
  • 'Guacamole'
    large size, wide, shiny, chartreuse gold leaves with green margins, rather white flowers
  • 'Halcyon' Form
    medium size, thick, blue-green foliage, lavender-blue flowers
  • Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans'
    giant size, blue, corrugated, wavy foliage, funnel-shaped white flowers
  • 'June'
    medium size, blue-green foliage with center variegations of light green to chartreuse
  • 'Kiwi Full Monty'
    large size, dark blue green margins
  • 'Kiwi Spearmint'
    small size, twisted, wavy, creamy-white foliage with green edges
  • 'Marbled White'
    large size, variegated pinnate leaves with lengthwise ridges
  • 'Mini Skirt'
    small size, 7 inches tall, wavy, blue green foliage with a wide creamy white marginal variegations, bell shaped lavender bloom
  • 'Minuteman'
    medium to large, dark green foliage with bright white edges, more sun and heat tolerant
  • "Patriot"
    medium size, variegated leaves, green with white or yellow margins, lavender blooms
  • 'Red Dragon'
    medium size, light green leaves, deep veins, red petioles, black-purple scapes, and pale purple blooms
  • 'Ripple Effect'
    medium size, blue-green foliage with golden yellow medial variegations, pale lavender blooms
  • 'School Mouse'
    small size, wavy blue green foliage with creamy yellow marginal variegations
  • 'Sum and Substance'
    giant size, corrugated, thick-textured, ribbed, glossy golden green leaves, 4 foot scape, pale lavender blooms
  • 'Super Nova'
    large size, moderately corrugated, wavy foliage, white blooms
  • 'Twist of Lime'
    small size, yellow gold leaves with thin green margins, purple blooms
  • 'Wrinkle in Time'
    small size, ovate, twisted, green foliage with cream colored marginal variegation, dark lavender buds
'Blazing Saddles', 'Blue Cadet', 'Blue Mammoth', 'Blue Mouse Ears', 'Blue Pillow', 'Bressingham Blue', 'Carolina Sunshine', 'Cathedral Windows', 'Cowlick', 'Empress Wu', 'Fire and Ice', 'Fire Island', 'Francee', 'Gold Standard', 'Guacamole', 'Halcyon', Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans', 'June', 'Kiwi Full Monty', 'Kiwi Spearmint', 'Marbled White', 'Mini Skirt', 'Minuteman', "Patriot", 'Red Dragon', 'Ripple Effect', 'School Mouse', 'Sum and Substance', 'Super Nova', 'Twist of Lime', 'Wrinkle in Time'
Tags:
#deciduous#fragrant flowers#white flowers#purple flowers#shade garden#low maintenance#apvg#mass planting#lilac flowers#ncemgva2018#edging#summer flowers#deer browsing plant#rock garden#border planting#fantz#partial shade tolerant#HS302#problem for cats#apvg-p#problem for dogs#problem for horses#rabbit browsing plant#heavy shade tolerant#perennial#vole damage#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blazing Saddles'
    medium to large size, yellow marginal variegations changes to creamy white
  • 'Blue Cadet'
    medium size, rounded, heart-shaped blue to dark green leaves, lavender flowers
  • 'Blue Mammoth'
    giant size, 34 inches tall, 65 inches wide, deep blue-green leaves change to dark green, white blooms
  • 'Blue Mouse Ears' Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'
    small size, 8 inches tall, 19 inches wide, blue-green slightly cupped, nearly rounded leaves, pale purple blooms
  • 'Blue Pillow'
    medium to large, 18 inches tall, 48 inches wide, corrugated blue-green leaves, white flowers
  • 'Bressingham Blue'
    large size, thick layer of bloom on the bottom of the leaves, large nearly white flowers
  • 'Carolina Sunshine'
    medium size, elliptic to elliptic ovate green leaves with creamy yellow margins
  • 'Cathedral Windows'
    large size, thick leaves with dark green margins and fragrant, pale lavender blooms
  • 'Cowlick'
    miniature size, 4 inches tall, 15 inches wide, narrow, wavy green foliage, purple flowers on short stems
  • 'Empress Wu'
    giant size, up to 50 inches tall, 108 inches wide, dark green ovate leaves, 4 foot scapes
  • 'Fire and Ice'
    medium size, dark green leaves with white variegations in the center, lavender blooms
  • 'Fire Island'
    medium size, yellow to chartreuse, rippled leaves with lavender blooms
  • 'Francee'
    medium to dark green leaves with white marginal variegation, 42 inch scapes, lavender flowers
  • 'Gold Standard'
    large size, yellow medial variegations with green margins, lavender flowers
  • 'Guacamole'
    large size, wide, shiny, chartreuse gold leaves with green margins, rather white flowers
  • 'Halcyon' Form
    medium size, thick, blue-green foliage, lavender-blue flowers
  • Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans'
    giant size, blue, corrugated, wavy foliage, funnel-shaped white flowers
  • 'June'
    medium size, blue-green foliage with center variegations of light green to chartreuse
  • 'Kiwi Full Monty'
    large size, dark blue green margins
  • 'Kiwi Spearmint'
    small size, twisted, wavy, creamy-white foliage with green edges
  • 'Marbled White'
    large size, variegated pinnate leaves with lengthwise ridges
  • 'Mini Skirt'
    small size, 7 inches tall, wavy, blue green foliage with a wide creamy white marginal variegations, bell shaped lavender bloom
  • 'Minuteman'
    medium to large, dark green foliage with bright white edges, more sun and heat tolerant
  • "Patriot"
    medium size, variegated leaves, green with white or yellow margins, lavender blooms
  • 'Red Dragon'
    medium size, light green leaves, deep veins, red petioles, black-purple scapes, and pale purple blooms
  • 'Ripple Effect'
    medium size, blue-green foliage with golden yellow medial variegations, pale lavender blooms
  • 'School Mouse'
    small size, wavy blue green foliage with creamy yellow marginal variegations
  • 'Sum and Substance'
    giant size, corrugated, thick-textured, ribbed, glossy golden green leaves, 4 foot scape, pale lavender blooms
  • 'Super Nova'
    large size, moderately corrugated, wavy foliage, white blooms
  • 'Twist of Lime'
    small size, yellow gold leaves with thin green margins, purple blooms
  • 'Wrinkle in Time'
    small size, ovate, twisted, green foliage with cream colored marginal variegation, dark lavender buds
'Blazing Saddles', 'Blue Cadet', 'Blue Mammoth', 'Blue Mouse Ears', 'Blue Pillow', 'Bressingham Blue', 'Carolina Sunshine', 'Cathedral Windows', 'Cowlick', 'Empress Wu', 'Fire and Ice', 'Fire Island', 'Francee', 'Gold Standard', 'Guacamole', 'Halcyon', Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans', 'June', 'Kiwi Full Monty', 'Kiwi Spearmint', 'Marbled White', 'Mini Skirt', 'Minuteman', "Patriot", 'Red Dragon', 'Ripple Effect', 'School Mouse', 'Sum and Substance', 'Super Nova', 'Twist of Lime', 'Wrinkle in Time'
Tags:
#deciduous#fragrant flowers#white flowers#purple flowers#shade garden#low maintenance#apvg#mass planting#lilac flowers#ncemgva2018#edging#summer flowers#deer browsing plant#rock garden#border planting#fantz#partial shade tolerant#HS302#problem for cats#apvg-p#problem for dogs#problem for horses#rabbit browsing plant#heavy shade tolerant#perennial#vole damage#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hosta
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Russian Far East to China, Japan, and Korea
    Distribution:
    Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Uzbekistan, and the eastern and midwest United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are attracted to its flowers. Deer and rabbits are attracted to the leaves as a food source.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    shade, slightly salt-tolerant
    Edibility:
    Hosta is typically an ornamental; however, in Korea and Japan, the leaves of some species are cooked and eaten.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 2 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Mounding
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are loculicidal capsules that dehisce at maturity. Each capsule contains many small black, flat, and winged seeds. The seeds may be elongated or triangular.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Trumpet
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Description:
    The flowers color ranges from white. lavender, or purple. A scapose raceme bearing large leafy bracts and small bracts; leafy bracts often drying and persisting; inflorescence axis erect to spreading. Salverform-campanulate to funnelform; perianth tube narrow, abruptly flaring into a bell-shaped with 6 free lobes, white to anthocyanin pigmented. Some species are more fragrant than others.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Large, in a basal rosette, sheathing, fleshy, ovate to elliptic to oblong, acute, attenuate, entire, parallel-veined, green to variegated to reddish-purple; petiole elongate, sulcate, sheathing. The shape, texture, and color of the leaves vary between species and cultivars.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The bloom stalk is known as a scape and extends beyond the height of the plant. The length and color of the scape are dependent on the cultivar. The blooms appear along the terminal end of the scape.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Pond
    Slope/Bank
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Salt
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses