The images show it: Hostas are grown for their foliage which is very varied. Bright greens, stripes, greys and blues all different shades of green. Hostas also vary much in size, there are very small Hostas no more than a few centimetres across to giants Hostas which are up to a metre which make a dramatic statement.
A Hosta will do best, in terms of leaf colour, if they are grown in semi shade although the yellow leaved Hostas will endure more sun. Hostas mix well in borders but also make a bold statement. When planting a Hosta, bear in mind some get very large and so there is no point in planting close by as when the leaves do emerge then will shadow anything nearby, although if it's also a shade loving plant the combination may work. I have found common spotted orchid lurking under the leaves of a large Hosta.
If you are planting Hosta in a shady spot bear in mind some varieties will look better in shade than others. The blue leaved Hostas can look a bit dull, and the yellow leaved will not do as well in shade. The best varieties for shade are those with green with yellow variegation such as Hosta fortunei var.aureomarginata (AGM)(image left Hosta on path)
Tips on Growing Hostas
In many ways Hostas are easy to grow and come up reliably year after year. Hostas are a herbaceous perennial and are very hardy all of which does make them easy to grow. Their preferred growing conditions include shade and soil which is moist, well drained and does not dry out, although they are such tough plants I have grown them in tubs and walls both of which tend to be on the dry side, but do display the Hosta at it's very best. If the only spot in the garden for the Hosta has sun, avoid the midday /early afternoon, as should we have a hot summer the leaves can scorch if there is too much sun.
Hostas do flower but their flowers in the main are not very attractive and can become quite ragged looking quickly. There is also a gardening school of thought that recommends pruning off the flowers so that the plant puts it's energies into foliage as Hostas do not repeat flower so once pruned it is thought to divert more growth to the leaves.
Hostas can be divided in the spring to make new plants and this is best done when the plant is established. Hostas are really tough plants so just dig it up, best time is in the spring when the new shoots are showing, divide by either putting two spades in back to back and forcing apart, or cut a chunk off with a hacksaw or sharp knife. Hostas are fairly indestructible although the slugs and snails do a good job.
In terms of maintenance you can leave Hostas undisturbed for many years. They will welcome a mulch over winter/spring of organic material but will soldier on fine without it if you just leave them alone.
Where to plant Hostas
The striped varieties look very good in shady areas and all look good alongside water features and ponds. Hostas also look good alongside a path grouped together see image left.
Hostas look just fantastic in the spring when the leaves unfurl the new foliage and beautiful when they catch the rain.
Hostas look good in woodland settings with ferns but also thrive in a mixed border add structure and a bold splash of green
When planting a new Hosta, plant with its crown at the same level as the existing soil. , good idea to make a slight depression around the plant, a mini well, to help the water soak to the roots and water well to get established.
The is just one "but" when growing Hostas is the slugs and snails can be ferocious in their attention. If you have a lot of slugs it maybe a struggle but with reasonable protection (follow this link for beat the slugs) you can have a healthy looking plant for (all most ) the summer. The only reason Hostas are marked with amber wheelbarrow being moderately difficult to grow is because of the problems with slugs and snails. If you have a problem with slugs there are some Hostas which are sold as being more slug resistant and generally the blue and larger varieties have the tougher leaves. The main problem with Hostas is slugs and snails and there are some reputed to be the more resistant to slugs. These tend to be the larger thicker leaved varieties such as Big Daddy, Gold Regal, Liberty, Halcyon, Silvery Slugproof.
Hostas are herbaceous which means at the end of the summer they die back and can look as if they are dead, see image centre left. Hostas are one of the earliest herbaceous plants to die back and can look untidy, it does no harm to the plant to cut back to ground level.
Come the spring the new Hosta leaves push through the earth spiking upwards and look very attractive as they unfurl, image bottom left.