Green on green

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In the words of the famous nineteenth century gardener Getrude Jekyll, ‘the first purpose of a garden is to be a place of quiet beauty, such as give delight to the eye and repose and refreshment to the mind’. Such is the effect of a garden filled with hostas, in all their subtle tones of green.

Hostas have lovely flowers too, but they are adored primarily for the captivating beauty of their leaves. Whether you use them to add depth and dimension to a shady planting scheme, make a statement in a large pot or blend them with other shade dwellers under deciduous trees, they will never fail to go unnoticed. As moisture-loving plants, they thrive alongside ponds and streams.

There are countless different Hosta varieties, so many that it can be hard to identify them by name. Leaf textures range from smooth to heavily textured, corrugated, or puckered. Some leaves are heart-shaped, others lance-shaped, oval, or elongated. Some leaves are quite small, and some very large. Leaf colours range from bright chartreuse through forest greens, cool blues and silver greys, and there are spectacular variegated forms with white, cream or gold highlights. Hostas range from ankle height to shoulder height.

Tubular Hosta flowers held above the leaves on elegant, vase-friendly scapes’ add an extra layer of charm in quiet shades of white or lavender blue. Some are beautifully fragrant and their nectar is popular with pollinators, including bees. Some gardeners cut the flowers off, preferring to look at the leaves and wanting to divert the plants’ energy into producing more of them.

Hostas are deciduous, disappearing from view in winter. But this means theyre cold hardy and able to thrive in a wide range of climates. In the early spring garden there is nothing more delightful than fresh new hosta leaves unfurling from the earth. To prevent hostas leaving the ground too bare over winter, they can be partnered with evergreen shade lovers like heucheras and hellebores.

Growing hostas

  • Choose a cool shady spot. While hostas need some sunlight for best foliage colour, protection from strong sun is important. Darker green varieties will cope with a more sun, while lime green or gold hostas are the most prone to sunburn. It is also important to remember that more sun they get, the more water hostas need.
  • Plant in well-drained, humus-rich soil. Mix compost into the soil at planting time and keep their soil covered with a layer of organic mulch to keep roots cool and moist.
  • When planting hostas in pots choose a large pot with best quality potting mix and take care to keep them well fed and watered.
  • Summer watering is essential for new plantings. Established hosta plants will tolerate periods of dryness once established, but they never look their best if dry for too long.
  • Garden mollusks love hostas! So, make sure your slug and snail prevention is in place before the vulnerable young leaves emerge from the ground, and continue the protection through summer.

Popular hosta varieties

  1. Award winning Hosta First Frost has intense blue-green leaves with bright gold margins that to white.
  2. Hosta Salute is a small, blue-green hosta with pointed leaves and an upright habit.
  3. Good slug resistance is a feature of Hosta Hadspen Blue which has thick, heavily textured foliage. The attractive heart-shaped leaves a toned powdery blue, an attractive contrast amid deeper greens.
  4. Super showy Hostal Loyalist has heavy-textured leaves with white centres and dark-green margins.
  5. Blue-green Hosta Ellerbroek has heart shaped leaves with irregular cream margins come to a decided point. This large hosta will tolerate more sun than others.
  6. Hosta Snowden is a giant variety with huge, pointed blue green leaves. Gowing up to a metre tall and wide, this stately upright hosta is striking in a cool shady border or a large pot.
  7. Hosta Summer Fragrance is elegant in soft green with a broad cream margin. It is rapid growing and sun tolerant.
  8. Hosta Treasure Trove is a light shade of green irregular margins of creamy yellow that soften to white.



Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



Hosta in a shady garden setting

Hostas grow well in pots

Hosta Empress Wu
Hosta Empress Wu

Hosta flowers
Hosta flowers

Hosta Shade Fanfare
Hosta Shade Fanfare