With names like ‘Lime Fizz’, ‘Night Before Christmas’, ‘Lakeside Dragonfly’, ‘Proud Treasure’, ’T Rex’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, and ‘Teeney Weeney Bikini’, what’s not to love about the lush leaves of hostas?
Hostas are a popular choice for Scottish gardens as they thrive in cooler climates, and tolerate deep shade, and moist soil. They are perfect for damp, shady, woodland areas of the garden, and will even thrive at the edge of ponds providing huge texture interest.
Hosta leaves have a ribbed, tactile texture which catch moisture and the fabulous foliage of hostas come in a plethora of greens from blue-grey, right through to yellow tones. Some have variegated foliage with creamy-white edges, or yellow flashes. Hostas with variegated leaves add real depth to a shady border.
All hostas produce flower spikes which range in colour from white to purple, and some are even scented.
Hostas come in a range of sizes from miniature varieties like ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, which grows to only 12cm high, through to giant hostas like ‘Blue Mammoth’ which can grow to 1m high.
Hostas prefer moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Add compost or other organic matter to the soil to help improve its fertility and structure.
Hostas prefer shade or partial shade. In Scotland, where summers are generally cool and cloudy, hostas can tolerate more sunlight but still prefer to be shaded during the hottest part of the day. Those with yellower leaves will tolerate sunnier spots better than those with purer green foliage.
Hostas require regular watering, especially during dry spells, and especially if growing in pots. Water deeply and infrequently, rather than shallowly and frequently.
Hostas can be susceptible to slugs and snails which does put people off growing them but regular monitoring and control measures, such as handpicking or using copper rings can help prevent damage.
Hostas can also be prone to fungal diseases, such as leaf spot or crown rot. Proper watering and drainage can help prevent these diseases.
Hostas will die back and go dormant in the winter - if you are a beginner gardener, it may even look like they have disappeared completely. Come springtime though, they will reappear as hostons, young leaves which gradually unfurl to reveal teardrop-shaped foliage. Remove any of last year’s dead foliage and apply a slow-release fertiliser to encourage the new growth.
Divide hostas every few years to reinvigorate them. Do this in early spring when you see the young hostons appear above the ground. Simply dig it up or remove from its container, and use a sharp knife or spade to divide in half, or into several pieces if it is a large plant.
‘Francee’ is an elegant hosta with heart-shaped, green leaves and crisp, white edges.
‘Whirlwind’ has thick, textured leaves with a gentle twist. The leaf is green at the edges with a flash of lime green in the centre.
‘Halcyon’ is one of the best blue-leaved hostas and it can survive temperatures down to -10 degrees and more.
‘El Nino' is a pretty, blue-green leaved hosta edged with white.