A Definitive Guide to Hosta Plants
How much do you know about hosta plants? If you’re like the average person, you probably know that they’re a plant that produces some very pretty flowers during the latter part of the summer. You might even be able to identify them from other types of flowing plants.
However, this doesn’t mean that you know everything about them. Thankfully, we’ve taken care of that for you.
Here’s a definitive guide to hosta plants with plenty of facts and details. By the time you’re done a reading, you’ll feel like an expert.
What Are Hostas?
We already loosely defined hostas above – they’re flowing plants. That’s the simplest way to describe them. However, they’re also known as plantain lilies. These plants come in multiple sizes and cultivars and are indigenous to Northeast Asia, including the countries of Russia, Japan, China, and Korea. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find them throughout the United States.
On the contrary, these plants grow all over the place. They like shade, are easy to care for, and can be split into multiple plants when they get too large. For these reasons alone, many gardeners love them.
In addition, hostas are perennials. This means that they’ll come up year after year, often growing out of the ground the second that the weather warms up. They emerge quickly, with their often-green leaves, and then, once late summer and early autumn roll around, they begin to bloom.
The flowers on hostas vary in color, and you might even see some with leaves that are colors other than green. Overall, these plants are very hardy and don’t require a lot of fertilizer and pruning. They aren’t fussy at all
Different Varieties of Hostas
Hostas come in many different shapes and sizes. You’ll find that there are small ones that neatly fit into a tight space, as well as enormous ones that resemble shrubs. It all depends on how large your yard is and how much room you want to allow for these plants.
In general, mini hostas range from around two and a half inches high to six inches at most. Many of the garden experts will tell you that these work well in container gardens and can be grown in a porch rail container.
If you have a rock garden that needs a little bit of foliage, you can’t go wrong with mini hostas.
Very Small Hostas
These plants fall in between the mini and the small varieties. They top out at 13 inches tall and are usually in the seven to eight-inch range as far as height is concerned.
Very small hostas won’t take up too much space in your garden, and make for great ornamental plants. They’ll give you plenty of color right where you need it.
Small hostas end up being anywhere from 13 to 16 inches tall. You do have to keep in mind that their planting conditions are what end up governing their overall height.
For example, if you place a small hosta in questionable soil, it will only reach a total height of 13 inches, whereas the same plant in better soil will grow to 16.
Overall, medium hostas are the most common. They are very popular because their size (from 16 to 21 inches tall) makes them a good fit for a variety of gardens in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find many of the hosta plants on the market are in this range.
One good suggestion that many gardeners follow is to plant several medium hostas together with a few small ones grouped up front. This makes for a very pleasant display of greenery and flowers.
Large hostas are much larger than their smaller counterparts, both as far as their height and overall spread are concerned. Height-wise, they range from 18 to 28 inches. This is impressive when combined with their spread.
These plants can grow anywhere from 81 to 144 square inches width-wise, meaning that they’ll take up quite a bit of space in your garden.
Giant hostas are the ones that resemble small shrubs – or large ones, depending on the growing conditions. They have leaves (note: leaves, not just overall spread or height) that range from 28 to 46 inches wide.
If those are just the leaves, then you should have no problem imagining what the plants themselves look like. These hostas can take up an entire flowerbed, although they look great around the bases of trees. You definitely don’t want to combine them with any other plants, since they’ll dwarf them.
Buying Hostas Online
There are many different ways to buy hostas – you can even purchase them online! Green Mountain Hosta is one good online source of these plants. The company is based in Vermont and is counted amongst the best hosta nursery in the state.
Their plants average three years old (meaning that they’re almost fully matured) and they ship all over the United States. If you want hostas delivered to you, but are having a hard time locating the variety that you want, contact them. They have over 500 different types of hostas, so they more than likely possess the ones that you’ve been searching for.
Most hostas like shade, but some require a little bit of sunlight as well. When it’s time to pick a hosta for your yard, make sure to match the plant’s light requirements with the ones in your location. Otherwise, you might end up with a plant that won’t thrive.
Once you’ve chosen your hosta, it’s time to plant them. Make sure that the soil is organic in nature, not full of pesticides, and that it’s slightly acidic. Dig a hole that’s big enough for the root ball with a little room to spare. Place the plant into the hole and then fill in the dirt around it.
It’s always a good idea to place mulch on top of the ground around your hostas. Mulch is designed to keep the soil warm, while at the same time, preventing weeds from getting in and taking root. It can also collect moisture, ensuring that your plant always has enough.
Since hostas do require drainage, don’t place too much mulch around their base. Instead, just sprinkle a light layer over the ground. You’ll still need to check on your mulch, soil quality, and do some light weeding as the season progresses, but the mulch does make this much easier.
Caring for Hostas
Hostas are easy plants. They can tolerate poor soil, several days’ worth of drought, and so on. With that said, they do require some care and certain tasks should be done during specific seasons.
For example, if you want to transplant your hostas, make sure to do so in the spring. This is the best time of year for that task, as the plant is just beginning to wake up from a winter of hibernation. Likewise, fall is the best time for trimming back the plants, as their growing season is over. You’ll need to water them when their soil feels dry and add in some compost around the base of the plant in order to provide the necessary nutrients.
Finally, keep critters away from them (more on that in a second), and remember to divide them up into multiple plants every four years. This way, you’ll have plenty of hostas to go around!
How to Prevent Critters from Harming Your Hostas
Hostas are pretty plants. This also means that they attract wildlife who want to harm them. Deer find them tasty, as do other neighborhood critters, including rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, and more. Insects, particularly slugs and beetles, can end up eating your hosta’s leaves if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, there are several ways to save your plants from these creatures.
As far as safeguarding your hostas from deer is concerned, a fence works wonders. If there’s a fence around the plants, then the deer can’t get near them. In addition, putting some cayenne pepper on the leaves of your hostas will prevent deer from eating them, as they don’t like that spice. Rabbits, voles, groundhogs, squirrels, and other creatures will avoid the plants with cayenne pepper on them as well.
Insects are a bit trickier, Epsom salt and eggshells will deter slugs, while larger creatures like beetles and grasshoppers can be physically removed when you see them on the plants.
The Best Hostas to Shop For
With so many different types of hostas out there, it can be hard to choose the best hosta plant varieties. Some suggestions include the Guacamole Hosta, thanks to its very green leaves, as well as the Fire Island Hosta, with its pale-yellow leaves that turn to chartreuse over the course of a season.
Other recommended varieties include the Patriot Hosta with its white-bordered leaves and the Gold Standard Hosta. The leaves on that plant are green, with a large golden patch in the center that really makes it stand out in your garden. Of course, there are plenty of other hostas to pick from as well.