Hostas are nature's answer to the question of what to grow in the shade. They come in sizes ranging from an inch or so tall to clumps 4 feet across and five feet high. Leaf colors range from white to gold to green to green/blue and green/gray and any number of combinations in variegated varieties. Leaf shapes range from narrow and sword like to heart shaped to nearly round. Most hostas aren't grown for their flowers, but they do produce scapes of flowers ranging from white to deep purple. Some, such as H. plantaginea, even have flowers that are quite fragrant.

The require very little care and can live for many decades. Minnesota is in USDA horticultural zone 4, a very difficult place to grow many things. Nearly all hosta cultivars do well here. In fact, the International Hosta Registry (where new cultivars are enrolled) and the national display garden of the American Hosta Society are located at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Here are links to some photos of hostas growing in my yard. I have about 70 varieties, but not all are shown here. I've also included some commentary and cultural information on each one.

Aoki  Black Hills Christmas Tree
Eleanor Great Expectations Green Gold
Gold Edger Golden Tiara Happy Hearts
Kabitan Lemon Lime Louisa
Love Pat montana Aureo-marginata nakiana
Stilleto Wide Brim Wasisdas

I've added some photos, now a year or two old, of my largest hosta bed in early July. You'll see a number of plants in bloom. There are about 20 varieties here, some of them quite small. The photos are JPEGs, so they may take a while to load. If you are really interested and have the time, click here.

Hostas are native to China, Korea and Japan. They can be used in many ways; as specimen plantings, as ground cover, as edging plants along the border with lawn or paved areas, or as surrounds under trees where it's hard to grow nearly anything else. Smaller hostas even lend themselves to container gardening.

Many people think hostas should be grown with other plants to be truly interesting. That's a debatable proposition, but there are many foliage and some flowering plants that are adapted to growing in the shade and make good companion plants to hostas. Among the annuals, impatiens are by far the best choice. They do well even in the deepest shade, flower all season long and come in a wide variety of colors. Ferns, pulmonaria (common name "lungwort"), astilbe and tiarella are among the other perennials you'll find in my hosta beds.

You can learn a lot more about hostas by consorting with some of the aforementioned hosta fanatics. You're likely to find them in local, regional and national hosta societies. I belong to the Minnesota Hosta Society, the Midwest Regional Hosta Society and the American Hosta Society.

Hosta Links

This site was created and is maintained by Andrew J. Marlow of Hopkins, MN. If you have questions or comments about this web site, e-mail me. To find out more about me, click the link below to go to my personal web page.
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This page updated last on September 1, 2001

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