They Love The Shade

Shade gardens and Hosta plantings are almost synonymous.

There are over 4000 registered varieties and I have no intention of trying to collect them in my garden or to be an authoritative source for varieties and their features. I probably have in excess of 25 varieties in my garden and it’s getting harder for me to find ones that are noticeably different to add to my collection. I find Hosta to be very useful plants but I confess that I’m not an avid collector or enthusiast. They grow in the shade where my Iris and vegetables will not and that is their greatest feature. They will also thrive under my large Black Walnut tree where many plants cannot because of the chemical, juglose, that the tree root’s secrete in to the soil.

hosta garden

hosta green

How To Choose A Variety? The most basic choice is between solid coloured leaves and variegated leaves. I just re-created the bed under my Harlequin Maple tree because almost nothing else will grow in the dense shade and severe competition for water. I’m hoping the Hosta will. I chose all solid coloured varieties to create a green base that would complement and not compete with, the heavily variegated tree. After plain or variegated, the next choice is size. I prefer, whenever possible, to buy my plants from a nursery that has mature specimens growing so that I can get a realistic sense of what to expect in the next few years. Under my maple tree I used two different sizes in a pattern that would give some rise and fall to the texture there. Leaf texture is another choice that is widely variable in Hosta.

hosta variegated Leaf Colour? When is green not exactly green. In solid coloured varieties.(picture above) There are bright shiny greens and dusky blues and almost yellows and every shade in between. The one that appeals to you or complements the other colours in your garden is the correct colour to choose if you are planting one Hosta in a mixed bed. A shade garden with a variety of leaf colours and textures can also be very effective. If you want to brighten it up a bit, then go and confuse yourself with the endless patterns available in the variegated types. Green, white, yellow and blue appear in a dazzling variety of shades and patterns. Again, just find the one that speaks to you and take it home.

hosta mouse ears

Does Size Matter? Yes, it does but bigger is not necessarily better. Look at where you are going to use the plant and choose a shape and size that creates the effect that you want in that garden. There are miniatures such as H. Mouse Ears that are barely and inch high. (picture right) There is H. Sagae that can be almost a metre tall.(picture below) I have used a variety of sizes in my main Hosta garden to give some depth and perspective to it. I have to admit that H. Mouse Ears has to be pointed out to most visitors where it is peeking above the coca bean mulch. H. Sagae on the other hand needs to introduction. The range of sizes available allows for a great variety of uses in any manner of gardens. Choose wisely to help create the effect that are trying to achieve.

hosta sagae Can They Be Divided? Absolutely! They are one of the most forgiving of perennials when it come to digging them up and creating a number of plants from the one giant plant that is taking over your garden. When the Assistant Gardener suggested that we try them under the variegated Maple, I leapt at the opportunity to rush to the nursery and expand my collection. It was ‘suggested’ that this might be a great opportunity to do a Hosta propagation page and save a little money at the same time. If you follow the link you may see the results of her excellent suggestion.

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