Hostas- a growing guide

Photo of Hosta

Hostas, with their huge leaves in every shade of green and many with white or yellow stripes or edges, add a touch of the exotic to shady parts of your garden. They are a very rewarding plant and in spring when the leaves start growing and unfurling you can almost watch them grow.

If you have a shady and moist bit of garden they will reward you with luxuriant growth. Once the clump becomes established it is very good at suppressing weeds. The flowers are not as interesting but nonetheeless if you have a big clump the mass of slender flowers is very pretty.

Depending on the variety the flowers are white or pale pink or pale lilac. The only trouble with Hostas is that slugs love them and so you will either need to take some precautions against slugs or grow in pots.

The beautiful blue-green leaves of Hosta Halycon made this a favourite of Beth Chatto. Hosta Francee (fortunei) is blue-green with white edges making it superb for lighting up a dark corner. These two have both received the RHS's AGM (Award of Garden Merit).  Hosta Sum and Substance has huge yellowy green leaves and gets less slug damage than many varieties.

Hostas look beautiful when grown with other foliage plants such as ferns or Brunnera or Acanthus mollus (bear's britches).

Another advantage of hostas is that the leaves and flowers are both excellent in flower arrangements and many varieties of hostas have scented flowers. Fragrant varieties include: Aphrodite, Blue Flame, Fragrant Bouquet, Fragrant Blue and Fragrant Queen.

The Jardins de Castillon and the Jardin d'Atmosphere du Petit Bordeaux in the north of France both use hostas beautifully in their planting.

Hostas in the Jardin de Castillon

Growing Guide for Hostas

Hostas need shade and a moist, well-drained soil. For really luxuriant growth mulch with well-rotted compost in spring and autumn. Whilst they like the soil to be moist they do not like sitting in water and so it is a good idea to add sharp grit to the planting hole. Water well until established and occasionally in times of drought. Hostas are hardy once established but do not plant young plants when there is a risk of frost. As they are such leafy plants a nitrogen rich feed in spring encourages bigger leaves.

Deter slugs with crushed egg shells, ash or use a nematode treatment. Otherwise hostas grow very well in pots. In pots they need feeding regularly and it is useful to add water-retaining granules to ensure the soil stays moist.

Propogate by division when the clump is big enough.

Hostas are a useful groung cover in many gardens and look especially good in tropical gardens.

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