Hostas

More than just "green filler," hostas can be the stars of shady landscapes.


Here is a primer on hostas: A pictorial review of 13 types, some planting ideas, and instructions for dividing hostas.

Hostas, the ultimate shade plant, are easy to take for granted. They come back year after year, surviving bitter winters, and making no special demands on the gardener's time. Their contributions to the landscape, however, can't be overlooked. Hostas give gardens a jolt of bold texture as well as a variety of leaf colors, patterns, and shapes.

A Diverse Family of Plants

Brim Cup Bold contrast on seersucker leaves

Hosta Montana Aureomarginata Chartreuse edges mature to cream.

Diamond Tiara Tidy mounds of foliage

Great Expectations A slow grower, but worth the wait.

Blue Mammoth The name says it all.

Spilt Milk Subtle streaks and spatters.

Inniswood Corrugated and wavy-edged.

Sum and Substance Green in dense shade, but turns gold with more sun.

Leather Sheen It always looks wet.

Frances Williams Everyone's favorite.

Stiletto (left) and Kabitan Ideal for edgings, ground covers, or containers.

Love Pat Powdery blue, cupped leaves.

This shady border, right, features hostas of all descriptions. They share the space with shade-loving lamium, lady's-mantle, ajuga, and white-flowered shrubs, such as Annabelle hydrangeas and fothergilla. To keep the plants fresh through summer heat, water often.

A large crock lifts a Halcyon hosta to fingertip level, right. Two potted hostas, Birchwood Parky's Gold and Temple Bells, are displayed in galvanized buckets for the summer.

A brick path, right, winds past hosta Golden Tiara (two plants in foreground), Kabitan (small chartreuse leaves), Ginko Craig (white-edged leaves), and Janet (center right).

This $8 hosta from a garden center can be divided into several plants before you set it out in the garden. Mature hosta clumps are composed of many small plants, each with its own root system.

Carefully slip a long-bladed knife between plants in the clump and cut down through the fibrous roots. Hostas are amazingly resilient and will quickly regenerate new feeder roots.

The result: Three plants for the price of one. Now give them a home in full to partial shade with constantly moist soil. Divided hostas may look sparse and asymmetrical at first, but they fill in with time.

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