Hostas are so beautiful that entire gardens can be dedicated to only growing these plants. These plants are another one that gardeners recommend to beginners because of their durable nature. Perhaps, the most exciting part about hostas is their variety.
Hostas are the most popular perennial plants in the USA. Its growing conditions are perfect for the country. While the foliage is the plant’s primary attraction, it also produces white or purple flowers that are splendid to look at.
Growing these plants only requires you to know the absolute basics of gardening. But, at the same time, there are some tiny tips that will keep the plant at its healthiest. Today, there are more than 2,500 types of hostas each with varying sizes and foliages. Hostas form clumps and grow from rhizomatous roots. These plants are so long-lived that even the gardener’s lifespan can fall short.
Here are a few quick facts about the popular rugged shrub:
- Latin name: Hosta spp.
- Other names: Plantain Lily, Funkia
- Native to: Northeast Asia
- Invasiveness: Not at all.
- Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
- Sun: Shade, Partial Sun.
- Water: Only enough to keep the soil moist, not wet.
- Soil: Well-drained, fertile.
- Hardiness zone: Zones 3 through 9
- When to plant: Early Spring/early fall right after the summer heat ends.
- Spacing: 1 to 4 ft.
- Plant height: 6” to 48”.
- Bloom period: Spring/late summer
- Time to maturity: 3 to 7 years.
- Container friendly: Yes.
- Fertilizer: 10-10-10
- Toxicity: Toxic to cats, dogs, horses.
- Deer resistant: No.
- Pest resistant: Some varieties.
Hostas might have a tropical appearance, but don’t let it fool you: it is among the most rugged plants available. The maturity time of these plants usually depends on their sizes. Smaller ones may mature in as little as 3 years while the largest ones can take up to 8 years.
The attractive point of hostas- their foliage- also comes in a wide range of colors and textures. Colors range from dark blue to variegated white. The textures and shapes of the leaves can also vary between heart-shaped and ridged and narrow and smooth. Hummingbirds and bees love the seasonal hostas’ flowers.
Hostas are considerably drought-resistant plants but they will not survive completely baked soil. So, they need their soil to be moist, but not wet. It is also recommended to water them once in a while but deeply rather than regularly but with smaller amounts.
Hostas are also known as shade-lovers. All hostas prefer the shade, however, the lighter-colored ones get their best color if left in the direct sun for a couple of hours. However, no hostas will survive if they receive the direct sun for too long.
Hostas are rugged plants that can survive in almost any kind of soil. But, it has to be well-drained. Also, they dislike clay soil and prefer it to be organically rich.
The most common and easiest way of applying fertilizer to these plants is by adding one layer of slow-release 10-10-10 every spring. You can add a bit more during summer but it is not essential. However, be very careful not to leave fertilizer granules on the hostas’ leaves. This can result in them being burnt.
Hostas might be non-native but they are not considered invasive in any region. Their roots always grow at the perimeters which makes it easy to control them.
Growing Hostas in containers
Hostas are pretty container-friendly. The ordinary potting mix available in the market will do just fine for these plants. However, make sure to choose a pot that has the same width as the primary foliage of the plant.
As for care, it is difficult to regulate the temperature when it comes to indoor specimens. As such, they may need additional protection during winters. Furthermore, container plants also need a regular watering schedule.
This also means it needs fertilizing a lot more frequently. Give them one feeding at the beginning of their growing season. Then feed them every 2 weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer while the growing season lasts. Stop this schedule when there’s about a month left till winter to help them harden.
Care & tips
Hostas, once established, require very little to no maintenance. It does not need special care in most regions in winter. One thing you should do is remove any dead foliage, as it can result in a pest infestation during winter.
Another important thing, especially for indoor plants, is that they require a 6 week long dormancy period for winter. This resets their growth stages. You can choose to let the plants bloom or not. If you do let the flowers bloom, then remove the stalks following the bloom.
Deer find this plant irresistible so put it behind a fence if your area has such a problem. Slugs and snails are also common problems that plague hostas. Simply clean the debris from the ground around the plants to discourage these pests.
Shriveled and brown leaf edges are indications that the plant has received too much sun. Hail can seriously damage hostas leading to infections. If you see spots on the leaves, then it may be a bacterial problem. Use soaker hoses to water the plant to treat this.
If you see the hostas’ growth is stunted and the foliage turning yellow, then too much watering, and subsequently, crown rot may be the problem.
Propagating is very simple and easy for hostas. During early spring or fall, dig up the plant, and break up the root clump. Ideally, every clump should have some leaves but it’s not a problem if it does not. Then plant them where you want.
The History Of Hostas
The majority of historians believe that the plant originates in China. From there it spread to Japan, Korea, Russia, and other Northeast Asian regions. In China, Han dynasty documents dating back to 206 BC have featured cultivations of the hosta plant. In Europe, hostas first made an appearance sometime during the early 1830s, with North America following shortly after.
Uses for Hostas
Hostas are usually used as background plants. The plants usually fade to a green hue, but on closer inspection, the foliage adds color to the garden. They are also excellent for controlling weeds since they take up all the sunlight and room where weeds could grow.
Hostas are highly toxic to dogs, cats, and horses so keep them away from the plant. As for humans, the leaves are considered safe for some varieties.
Hostas are excellent choices for both filling in the gaps and making a statement all on their own. The fact that they are America’s most sold perennial stands testament to how easy it is to grow hostas.