There's A Hosta For Everyone!
Love hostas? So do we, and about a million other people! These leafy lovelies are valued by shade gardeners from all parts, bringing lush form and fragrant flowers during the summer months. But did you know about their other characteristics?
- Deer resistant
- Hummingbird magnet
- Great in flower arrangements (both leaves and blooms)
So, with over 3,000 (you read that correctly!) different varieties of hostas on the market, how do you know which one to choose? While you literally cannot go wrong with any of them, some will fit you and your garden better than others, and we’re here to help you figure that out.
Take a look at your garden space and make some notes. Most hostas look best when planted in groupings of 3–5, so be aware of how much space you have and then plant accordingly. From there, it’s a matter of personal taste and how you want to use them, but beware—hostas are somewhat addictive, and we cannot be held responsible for the sudden increase in your plant-buying budget.
One thing to keep in mind as you’re creating a garden with hostas is that it can be tempting to want to use all of them. All the colors, all the sizes, all the different leaf patterns. But unless you have a remarkably large gardening area and can break up some plants into groupings, it’s best to choose a few and repeat them in small groups. Otherwise, All the Hostas can quite literally become too much of a good thing, with their bold forms and hues appearing a bit chaotic.
Blues: In this case, having the blues is a good thing. Hostas with bluish-tinged leaves add a calming and serene air to the garden, and blend beautifully with variegated and chartreuse hostas. Add some blues with Halcyon, Blue Angel, and Frances Williams. Frances also has some intriguing golden leaf margins, and if you’re into the variegated foliage, you’ll love this next group!
Variegated: Oh, so many hostas with interesting, variegated leaves! Green and white, chartreuse and gold, blue and green, the combinations are endless. These types of leaves truly brighten up those shady garden corners and are perfect exclamation points among your solid-colored hostas. We love Patriot, Night Before Christmas (Who makes up these names? We love them!), Antioch, and Francee.
Giant: Got a lot of space, or need a dramatic focal point? Go big or go home with these giant hostas! Try chartreuse Sum and Substance (over 3’ high and 6’ wide!), T-Rex with its massive leaf size, or Sieboldiana Elegans for growth up to 4’ tall with 10” wide leaves.
Dwarf: And then there’s the opposite situation, where you might have less space to deal with but still want those hostas, darn it. That’s totally fine; there’s a hosta for that. You could go with the truly dwarf hostas (leaves no larger than 4 square inches, according to the American Hosta Society) like Mighty Mouse, Little Wonder, and Blonde Elf. Or, if you’re going for something not quite so tiny but still on the smaller size for hostas, consider Stained Glass, First Frost, or Halcyon.
What to Plant with Hostas
Now that we’ve given you the Hosta bug (sorry, not sorry), you might start having questions about what to plant with them. While you could plant a full-on hosta garden, consider extending the season with a variety of other shade-loving perennials and annuals like these. What you’re looking for is a contrast in leaf size and texture, and these plants have that just-right balance for hostas’ bold form.
- Perennial Geraniums
- Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Spring flowering bulbs are a wonderful “sort of” companion plant for hostas—while hostas don’t emerge at the exact same time as bulbs do, their emerging foliage cleverly covers up the bulbs’ fading leaves.
Need more growing tips? Check out our Hosta Planting Guide—it’s got everything you need to know to grow these shade-loving stunners.
- Katie Elzer-Peters