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Genus Hosta (Plantain lily)

Hosta Hosta 'August Moon' Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
HOSS-tah Common Name: Plantain lily
Roughly 70 species make up this genus of mostly clumping perennials from China, Korea, Japan, and Russia. Hundreds of cultivars are available. They are grown for their bold foliage which may be variegated or shades of green, yellow, or grayish blue. Variegation may be wide-margined, narrow-margined, or centrally marked. Leaves can be ovate, lance-shaped, rounded, or heart-shaped. Flowers are borne in racemes, mainly in summer. Hostas can be used as accent plants, as groundcovers (even under some trees), in beds and borders, at waterside, or in rock gardens.  
Noteworthy characteristics: Ornamental, bold foliage. Very hardy. Somewhat drought-tolerant.
Care: Hostas grow best in Zones 3-9. They need fertile, moist but well drained soil. They can tolerate shade, but perform best with full morning sun in northern areas and filtered shade in the south.
Propagation: Sow seed in a cold frame in spring, using containers. Divide in late summer or early spring.
Problems: Slugs and snails are common problems. Viruses and foliar nematodes can also affect hostas, and container-grown plants are vulnerable to vine weevil.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Hosta

Hosta 'Aspen Gold' Hosta 'Aspen Gold'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Perfectly round, puckered, bright-gold leaves have a pattern resembling seersucker fabric. Pale-lavender flowers appear in early summer.

Hosta ‘August Moon’ Hosta ‘August Moon’
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This large and vigorous mounding hosta reaches 20 to 24 inches tall and 36 to 42 inches wide. Heart-shaped, cupped, puckered, pale green leaves provide interesting and attractive texture. Bell-shaped, grayish white flowers are borne on 28-inch-long scapes from mid-July through early August.

Hosta 'Blue Angel' Hosta 'Blue Angel'
(Hosta)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Blue Angel' makes a very large tiered mound of heavily textured blue leaves that can be as wide as 18 in. in diameter.

Hosta 'Blue Shadows' Hosta 'Blue Shadows'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Blue Shadows' is a medium-sized plant with coarse, deep blue, variegated leaves.

Hosta 'Fort Knox' Hosta 'Fort Knox'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This upright selection reaches 24 inches tall and 44 to 48 inches wide. 'Fort Knox' has an elegant vase-shaped habit and radiant yellowish-gold leaves 10 inches long by 6 inches wide. Lavender flowers appear in midsummer.

Hosta 'Fortunei Albo-marginata' Hosta 'Fortunei Albo-marginata'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Bold, large, shield-shaped leaves with a deep green center and creamy-white margins turn white with age. Funnel-shaped mauve flowers borne on leafy scapes 32 inches long appear in midsummer.

Hosta 'Guacamole' Hosta 'Guacamole'
(Hosta)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

As its name might indicate, 'Guacamole' has avocado green, veined foliage with darker green margins. This hosta forms large, dense clumps and thrives in partial shade, where the sun can brighten the leaf centers. In late summer, 3-foot-tall flower stalks emerge, bearing fragrant, lilylike white blooms. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #127

Hosta 'Halcyon' Hosta 'Halcyon'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Halycon’ is a wonderful blue hosta that holds its strong leaf color all season. Its textured, blue-green leaves are thick enough to be slug resistant. Bell-shaped, pale lilac flowers are followed by seed heads that attract birds late in the season. 'Halcyon' grows fairly slowly. It can be used as either a ground cover or a specimen plant. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127

Hosta 'June' Hosta 'June'
(Plantain lily)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'June' hosta has bluish leaves with irregularly shaped creamy gold centers. Pale lavender flowers bloom in late summer on 20-inch spikes. This medium-sized plant is a standout in shade or woodland gardens. It was the American Hosta Growers Association "Hosta of the Year 2001".

Hosta 'Lakeside Shore Master' Hosta 'Lakeside Shore Master'
('Lakeside Shore Master' hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

With hefty, chartreuse-flared leaves, ‘Lakeside Shore Master’ hosta commands attention. Performing best in shade, it will tolerate some sun in our cool New England climate. Please don’t let the name fool you, however, into giving it a soggy spot; wet feet turn hostas into mush. This cultivar also sports thick leaves, which are fairly slug resistant. -Justin Nichols, Fine Gardening 147, page 70

Hosta 'Little Aurora' Hosta 'Little Aurora'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A fast grower, 'Little Aurora' has cupped, puckered leaves and a metallic sheen, with soft-lavender flowers from late June into early July.

Hosta 'Patriot' Hosta 'Patriot'
(Hosta)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Patriot' is one of the few hostas that can really take the heat. It's a tough plant with relatively large leaves, and their white edges shine in the shade the shade. In midsummer, lavender flowers appear on tall spikes. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127

Hosta 'Piedmont Gold' Hosta 'Piedmont Gold'
(Hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A robust, clump-forming perennial, 'Piedmont Gold' has prominently veined, wavy-margined, bright-gold leaves 10 inches long by 7 inches wide. It reaches an average height of 18 to 25 inches tall and 40 inches wide. White flowers on 26-inch stems appear in midsummer.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance' Hosta 'Sum and Substance'
(Hosta)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A botanical giant, 'Sum and Substance' averages 30 inches tall by 60 inches wide, sometimes more. Upright, heart-shaped, flat leaves have a glossy chartreuse hue that changes to gold when exposed to more light. Near-white lilac blooms borne on leaning scapes 36 inches long appear from late July through mid-August.

Hosta 'Sun Power' Hosta 'Sun Power'
(Hosta)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Sun Power' is a clump-forming perennial with oval to heart-shaped, yellowish green leaves below funnel-shaped, pale-lavender to white flowers in midsummer.

Hosta kikutii 'Hillbilly Blues' Hosta kikutii 'Hillbilly Blues'
(Japanese rock hosta)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A clump-forming perennial with flat-spreading, blue-colored leaves, Japanese rock hosta bears funnel-shaped white flowers, sometimes flushed with purple, on arching, leafy scapes 24 inches long.

Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans'
(Hosta)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Elegans' is a large hosta with deep, smoky blue, slightly frosted heart-shaped foliage.  Deep veins give the leaves a corrugated look. White flowers bloom in early spring. Though slugs love hostas, this one is usually spared. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127