A Gardener's Guide to Hostas

There's an amazing number of hostas available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Discover which will look best in your yard.

Justin W. Hancock


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Hosta 'Patriot'
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'Patriot'

    'Patriot' hosta has become a garden favorite because of its crisp, clean variegation. The broad white edges around the dark green leaves practically glow in the shade. Awarded Hosta of the Year in 1997 by the American Hosta Growers Association, 'Patriot' is an exceptional selection that's beautiful and performs very well in the landscape.

    Size: 12 inches tall, 30 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1991

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'June'

    Another award-winning hosta ('June' was named the 2001 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Grower's Association), this selection bears thick golden-yellow foliage with streaky blue-green edges. It also offers a bit of sun tolerance. In fact, with a couple of hours of morning sun, 'June' displays brighter gold leaf centers.

    Test Garden Tip: Hostas do best in a spot with dappled shade all day, though many tolerate direct sun for a short time in the morning hours. Most varieties will suffer leaf burn if they're exposed to sun during the heat of the day, especially in warm-summer climates.

    Size: 15 inches tall, 20 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: Purple

    Year Introduced: 1997

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'Frances Williams'

    'Frances Williams' is a remarkable hosta that features huge blue-green foliage irregularly edged in chartreuse. The leaves have a great puckered texture and thick substance, so the plant looks great even at the end of the season.

    Test Garden Tip: The thicker and more textured a hosta leaf is, the better slug resistance it tends to have. Sadly, no hosta is slug proof.

    Size: 18 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: White

    Year Introduced: 1986

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'Striptease'

    'Striptease' is a tricolor hosta -- the golden leaves separated from their wide green edges by a thin white line. It's so eye-catching and unique (and a great performer in the garden), that the American Hosta Growers Association named it the Hosta of the Year in 2005.

    Size: 20 inches tall, 36 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Pale violet

    Year Introduced: 1991

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'Deja Blu'

    You'll want to plant this lovely hosta where you can view it up close. 'Deja Blu' features big blue-green leaves that are edged in gold. Take a second look and you'll notice a narrow band of creamy-white that separates the two other colors.

    Test Garden Tip: Hostas prefer moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter and has a slightly acidic pH. If you have soil with a lot of clay or sand in it, amend with compost or another form of organic matter.

    Size: 14 inches tall, 20 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Purple

    Year Introduced: 2005

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'Great Expectations'

    A big, bold hosta, 'Great Expectations' features chartreuse foliage with broad, soft blue-green edges. The leaf centers go yellow in summer, then creamy yellow or white by autumn.

    Size: 22 inches tall, 40 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Pale lilac

    Year Introduced: 1988

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'Tokudama Flavocircinalis'

    One of the most elegant of all hostas, 'Tokudama Flavocircinalis' features heart-shape blue leaves with a golden edge. The leaves have an attractive corrugated texture that's a great contrast to hostas with smoother leaf surfaces.

    Size: 17 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: White

    Year Introduced: 1987

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'Great American Expectations'

    You can count on 'Great American Expectations' to put on a show in your shade garden. This stunning hosta grows 26 inches wide and has large, 10-inch-long chartreuse leaves edged in a soft blue-green color. It grows faster than 'Great Expectations'.

    Test Garden Tip: You can transplant or divide hostas any time from spring to fall, but the cool months of spring and fall are best.

    Size: 26 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Purple

    Year Introduced: 1999

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'Sagae'

    Named Hosta of the Year in 2000 by the American Hosta Grower's Association, 'Sagae' displays light blue-green leaves that have a frosted look and are dramatically edged in gold. It's a strong grower with wonderfully thick foliage.

    Size: 20 inches tall, 54 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Somewhat

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1996

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'Pathfinder'

    Known for its thick, textured foliage, 'Pathfinder' has white foliage edged in dark green. It grows 2 feet tall and combines well with white flowers in the shade garden.

    Size: 12 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: White flushed with purple

    Year Introduced: 1999

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'Wolverine'

    Blue and yellow usually look great together, and the combination is no exception for 'Wolverine', which features long, lance-shape blue-green leaves edged in creamy gold.

    Size: 15 inches tall, 40 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1995

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'Paradigm'

    Awarded the Hosta of the Year in 2007 by the Hosta Growers Association, 'Paradigm' bears golden leaves with irregular blue-green edges. Unlike many hostas, the colors become richer through the summer. A vigorous grower, 'Paradigm' can reach 4 feet wide.

    Size: 46 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: Purple

    Year Introduced: 1999

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'Pandora's Box'

    Though its name is ominous, 'Pandora's Box' is a miniature hosta that's sure to bring lots of joy to your garden. The creamy white foliage has blue-green edges. It also bears purple flowers. It grows 5 inches across.

    Size: 2 inches tall, 5 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Year Introduced: 1996

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'Whirlwind'

    Known for its changing leaf color, 'Whirlwind' bears pointed foliage with dark green edges around creamy-white that fade to light green in midsummer and dark green at season's end. The habit is interesting, too -- its leaves stay upright, creating a mound.

    Size: 5 inches tall, 40 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1989

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'Formal Attire'

    Add impact to your shade garden with 'Formal Attire', a big hosta that grows 30 inches wide and offers dark blue-green leaves with a wide creamy-white edge.

    Size: 30 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender purple

    Year Introduced: 1988

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'Silver Threads and Golden Needles'

    'Silver Threads and Golden Needles' is a cute miniature hosta with bright gold leaves that are streaked and splotched with green and silver. Its small habit makes it perfect for the front of the border or containers.

    Size: 6 inches tall, 8 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 2001

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'Stitch in Time'

    You'll look twice at 'Stitch in Time', a unique variety that has green leaves widely edged in bright gold that looks like it's been sewn on. The texture looks great with other small hostas.

    Size: 14 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 2004

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'Golden Prayers'

    A small hosta with big color, 'Golden Prayers' grows 16 inches across but has slightly cupped deep golden leaves. It shines in the shade, especially if you pair it with other golden hostas or yellow-flowering shade perennials such as Kirengeshoma or ligularia.

    Size: 10 inches tall, 16 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1976

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'Daybreak'

    Loved for its deep gold foliage, 'Daybreak' has heavily textured foliage that's somewhat resistant to slugs and has good sun tolerance.

    Size: 22 inches tall, 36 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Slight

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1986

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'Sun Power'

    One of the more popular sun-tolerant hostas, 'Sun Power' features yellow-green leaves topped by clusters of pale lavender flowers. It develops the best color in a spot where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

    Size: 24 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1986

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'Sum and Substance'

    Put on a big show in your landscape with 'Sum and Substance', an enormous hosta with lime-green leaves that can reach almost 2 feet long! It was voted Hosta of the Year in 2004 by the American Hosta Grower's Association.

    Size: 24 inches tall, 60 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Slight

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1980

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'Blue Mouse Ears'

    Among the cutest hostas around, 'Blue Mouse Ears' features rounded gray-blue leaves with a thick texture. It was voted the 2008 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Grower's Association.

    Size: 5 inches tall, 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: Moderate

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 2000

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'Chartreuse Wiggles'

    Earning its name from the wavy leaf edges, 'Chartreuse Wiggles' has bright green-gold foliage and purple flowers. Grow this one with hostas that have wide leaves for a really fun combination. Or try it in containers with blue browallia.

    Size: 6 inches tall, 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1976

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'Heavenly Tiara'

    Offering light green foliage edged in creamy gold that fades to white, 'Heavenly Tiara' looks great with most other shade plants.

    Size: 12 inches tall, 36 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Purple

    Year Introduced: 1998

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'Aureomarginata'

    Its name means yellow ("aureo") edge ("marginata"), though you'd think this dramatic plant's name should be "big foliage" as the leaves can be 12 inches long or more. Hosta montana 'Aureomarginata' has dark green leaves edged in gold.

    Size: 27 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender purple

    Year Introduced: 1987

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'Aztec Treasure'

    A charmer with textured golden foliage, 'Aztec Treasure' is a perfect choice for adding a bright splash of color to the shade garden.

    Size: 12 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1987

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'Tracy's Emerald Cup'

    For most hostas, the main attraction is the foliage and usually because of color variegation. 'Tracy's Emerald Cup' is different, though. The shiny, dark green leaves are intriguing because of their curved bowl shape.

    Size: 14 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1997

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'Touch of Class'

    A delightful mutation of 'June', 'Touch of Class' is an exciting selection with chartreuse leaves that have a very wide blue-green border.

    Size: 7 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1999

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'Krossa Regal'

    'Krossa Regal' shows off blue leaves that look like frosted glass. But that's not all -- the plant has a lovely vase-shape habit and very tall (5-foot) stalks of lavender flowers.

    Size: 36 inches tall, 60 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: Lavender

    Year Introduced: 1980

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Hosta plantaginea

    Here's a variety you might grow for its flowers; Hosta plantaginea has green foliage and clusters of pure white blooms in summer that are wonderfully fragrant.

    Size: 24 inches tall, 48 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Slug Resistant: No

    Flowers: White

    Year Introduced: Wild type

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