PLANTAIN LILY

FAMILY: Asparagaceae | GENUS: HOSTA

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Partial Shade
  • Full Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8

Plant Details

The most popular of all plants for shade, hostas are prized for their marvelous foliage. The thin spikes of lavender or white, trumpet-shaped flowers that appear for several weeks in summer are a bonus, and they are a favorite among hummingbirds. There's a tremendous variety in leaf size, shape, and color; to fully appreciate the diversity, you'll need to consult a specialist's catalog or visit a well-stocked garden center. All hostas are native to eastern Asia.

Leaves may be heart shaped, lance shaped, oval, or nearly round, carried at the ends of leafstalks that rise from the ground and radiate from a central point. Leaves overlap to form symmetrical, almost shingled foliage mounds ranging in size from dwarf (as small as 34 inches.) to giant (as big as 5 feet.). Leaf texture may be smooth, deeply veined, quilted, or puckery; surface may be glossy or dull; edges may be smooth or wavy. Colors range from light to dark green to chartreuse, bright gold, gray, and blue. There are also combinations of colors, including variegations with white, cream, or yellow.

All hostas go dormant in winter, collapsing to almost nothing. All are splendid companions for ferns and for plants with fernlike foliage, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra and Lamprocapnos). They're also good in containers. In the ground, hostas last for years; clumps expand in size and shade out weeds. They are generally shade lovers, though some will tolerate dappled or morning sun if well watered. Plants grown in more sun will be more compact and produce more flowers. Unfortunately, hostas are a favorite dessert for deer and voles.

New selections are legion. To be sure you're getting the one you want, buy the plant in full leaf or deal with a reputable mail-order firm. Species and selections listed below are just a few of the many available.

fortune's plantain lily

hosta fortunei

  • May be an ancient hybrid affiliated with Hosta sieboldiana.
  • Variable plant known for its many selections in a wide range of foliage colors.
  • Plants grow to 1112 feet high, up to 3 feet wide, with oval, foot-long leaves, lilac flowers.
  • Young leaves of Hosta f.
  • albopicta are yellow with uneven green border; the yellow fades to a greenish shade by summer.
  • Hosta f.
  • aureomarginata has distinctly veined, deep olive-green leaves irregularly rimmed in yellow.
  • Hosta f.
  • hyacinthina has large, gray-green leaves edged with a fine white line.

hosta hybrids

  • The following list includes some of the best, most widely grown hostas.

Albomarginata

  • Grows 23 feet high and 34 feet wide.
  • Leaves have an irregular yellow border that fades to white; late bloom.

Antioch

  • To 112 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Broad, green leaves with wide, creamy white margins.
  • Lavender flowers are held well above foliage mound.

Blue Angel

  • Heavily veined, blue-green leaves 16 inches long, nearly as wide.
  • White flowers over a long bloom period.
  • Enormous mound to 34 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Blue Mouse Ears

  • Charming miniature to just 68 inches high and 12 inches wide.
  • Thick, slightly cupped, heart-shaped leaves are blue-green.
  • Lavender flowers held just above the foliage.
  • Lovely in containers.

Blue Wedgwood

  • To 2 feet high, 1 feet wide.
  • Wavy-edged, strongly veined, heart-shaped leaves in 112 feet mound.
  • Pale lavender flowers bloom early.

Chartreuse Wiggles

  • Dwarf (68 inches high, 10 inches wide), with lance-shaped, wavy-edged, chartreuse-gold leaves.
  • Lavender flowers bloom late.

Earth Angel

  • Sport of 'Blue Angel', with similar size and appearance, except each leaf has wide, creamy yellow margins that age to creamy white.

First Frost

  • Sport of 'Halcyon' grows 16 inches high and 3 feet wide.
  • Heart-shaped, blue-green leaves are heavily edged in creamy yellow, aging to white.
  • Light lavender flowers appear on 2 feet-tall stalks in midsummer.

Fragrant Bouquet

  • Vigorous mounding growth to 20 inches tall and 3 feet wide, with roundish, apple-green leaves widely edged in creamy yellow.
  • Large (to 3 inches long), highly fragrant, lavender-blushed white flowers are held on 3 feet-tall scapes.

Francee

  • To 1122 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Broadly heart-shaped leaves to 6 inches long with striking white edges.
  • Lavender flowers bloom late.
  • Sun tolerant.

Frances Williams

  • Forms a mound to 2123 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
  • Round, puckered, blue-green leaves have a bold, irregular yellow edge.
  • Pale lavender flowers bloom early.

Ginko Craig

  • To 1112 feet tall and wide.
  • Elongated, frosty green leaves with silver margins.
  • Abundant lavender flowers.

Gold Edger

  • To 1012 inches high, 112 feet wide.
  • Heart-shaped, 3 inches leaves in chartreuse gold.
  • Masses of lavender blossoms.
  • One of the most sun tolerant; in fact, it needs some sun for best color.

Golden Tiara

  • To 1 feet tall, 112 feet wide.
  • Heart-shaped leaves are 4 inches long, light green with gold edge.
  • Purple flowers.
  • Sun tolerant.

Gold Standard

  • To 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Heart-shaped, bright golden leaves with a green margin.
  • Pale lavender flowers.
  • Sun tolerant.

Great Expectations

  • To 2 feet tall, 212 feet wide.
  • Leaves sport a creamy yellow center surrounded by a wide blue-green edge.
  • White flowers.

Guacamole

  • Grows 12 feet tall and 45 feet wide.
  • Distinctly veined leaves are apple-green, shading to blue-green along the edges.
  • White flowers are very fragrant.

Hadspen Blue

  • Low grower (to 1 feet tall, spreading to 112 feet.) with slightly wavy, broadly oval, slug-resistant blue leaves.
  • Many lavender flowers.

Halcyon

  • To 112 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Heart-shaped, heavy-textured, blue-gray leaves.
  • Short spikes of rich lilac-blue flowers.

Honeybells

  • To 212 feet high, 4 feet wide.
  • Wavy-edged, yellow-green leaves; lightly scented pale lilac flowers.

June

  • Low grower to just 1 feet high and 2 feet wide.
  • Slender, heart-shaped leaves are heavy textured.
  • Each golden leaf has wide, streaked margins of sage-green, shading to blue-green at the edges.
  • Fragrant white blooms.

Krossa Regal

  • Big, leathery, frosty blue leaves arch up and out, making a vase-shaped clump to 3 feet tall and wide.
  • Slug-resistant foliage.
  • Blooms late, with lavender flower spikes that can reach 56 feet high.

Liberty

  • This sport of 'Sagae' grows in an upright vase shape to about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
  • Thick, heart-shaped leaves are blue-green, with very wide margins in yellow.
  • As the season progresses, the blue-green turns greener, and the yellow fades to white.
  • Pale lavender flowers on 3 feet-tall scapes bloom in midsummer.

Paradigm

  • Thick, corrugated, rounded leaves are gold, with a wide margin of dark blue-green.
  • Grows 22 inches high and 3312 feet wide.
  • Light lavender blooms appear in early summer.

Patriot

  • To 15 inches tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Resembles 'Francee', but leaves have a wider white border.
  • Lavender blooms.

Paul's Glory'. Forms a sturdy clump to 12 feet high and 4 feet wide. Heart-shaped leaves are chartreuse, with a dark green margin. The center slowly ages to gold (white in more sun). Lavender flowers in midsummer.

Piedmont Gold

  • To 2 feet high, 3 feet wide.
  • Broadly heart-shaped, heavily veined, slightly wavy-edged, 7 inches leaves of glowing chartreuse gold.
  • White flowers.
  • Sun tolerant.

Praying Hands

  • Unusual upright form sets this one apart.
  • Narrow, folded leaves are held erect on upright stems for an overall vase shape with a height of 1418 inches.; clumps may reach 2 feet across.
  • Dark green leaves have thin edging of creamy yellow.
  • Plenty of lavender flowers appear in late summer.

Rainforest Sunrise

  • Forms a mound about 1 feet tall and 12 feet wide, with rounded, corrugated, cupped foliage.
  • Each golden leaf is bordered in deep green.
  • Pale lavender flowers appear in early summer.

Regal Splendor

  • Sport of 'Krossa Regal'.
  • Grows 2 feet tall and nearly 6 feet wide.
  • Huge blue-green leaves are frosty blue, with a creamy yellow margin.
  • Lavender flowers in midsummer.

Royal Standard

  • To 2 feet high, 34 feet wide.
  • Glossy, light green leaves, elongated and undulated.
  • Fragrant, white flowers.
  • Sun tolerant.

Sagae

  • Vase-shaped plant to 2 feet tall and 45 feet wide.
  • Large, heart-shaped, heavily ribbed leaves are blue-green with an irregular creamy white edge.
  • Showy pale lavender flowers.
  • Sun tolerant and resistant to slug damage.

Shade Fanfare

  • To 1112 feet high, 112 feet wide.
  • Leaves are pointed ovals to 7 inches long, green to gold with creamy white margin.
  • Lavender flowers.
  • Very sun tolerant.

So Sweet

  • Upright grower to 112 feet high and 23 feet wide.
  • Glossy, deep green, heart-shaped leaves have irregular white margins.
  • Fragrant white flowers.
  • Takes considerable sun.

Stained Glass

  • To 1 feet tall and 34 feet wide.
  • Shiny, golden leaves have a 2 inches-wide margin of dark green.
  • Vigorous and sun tolerant, with very fragrant, pale lavender flowers.

Striptease

  • Sport of 'Gold Standard' and similar in size and leaf shape, but with wider dark green margins on the golden leaves.
  • A narrow white strip separates the green from the golden areas.
  • Pale lavender flowers show up in midsummer.

Sum and Substance

  • To 3 feet high, 5 feet wide.
  • Textured, shiny yellow leaves to 20 inches long.
  • Slug-resistant foliage.
  • Lavender flowers.
  • Very sun tolerant.

Sun Power

  • To 2 feet high, 3 feet wide.
  • Ruffled, twisted leaves are chartreuse to golden; retain their color all season.
  • Lavender flowers on 3 feet stalks.
  • Takes morning sun.

Touch of Class

  • Vigorous grower to 1 feet high, 1 feet wide.
  • Thick, quilted, blue leaves are marked with a large central flame of gold.
  • Lavender flowers.

True Blue

  • Sturdy, mounding growth to 2 feet tall and a little wider.
  • Slightly wavy, heavily corrugated leaves are blue-green.
  • White flowers may show a distinctive lavender stripe.

Wide Brim

  • Oval, pointed, dark green leaves are widely edged in creamy white to pale yellow.
  • Forms a mound about 1 feet high and 3 feet wide.
  • Pale lavender flowers top the plant in mid- to late summer.

fragrant plantain lily

hosta plantaginea

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Glossy, bright green leaves to 10 inches long, broadly oval with parallel veins and quilted surface.
  • Foliage mound 2 feet high, 3 feet wide.
  • Noticeably fragrant, large white flowers bloom late.
  • Heat tolerant.
  • Performs better than other species in Coastal South.
  • Aphrodite (H.
  • Aphrodite) is double flowered.

siebold plantain lily

hosta sieboldiana

  • To 2123 feet tall, 4 feet wide.
  • Blue-green, broadly heart-shaped leaves, 1015 inches long, heavily veined and puckered.
  • Many slender, pale lilac flower spikes nestle close to foliage mound early in season.
  • Foliage dies back early.
  • Hosta s.
  • elegans has especially handsome blue-gray leaves that are slug resistant.

hosta sieboldii 'Kabitan

  • To 8 inches tall, 10 inches wide.
  • Wavy, lance-shaped leaves to 5 inches long, chartreuse to yellow with thin green margins.
  • White flowers.

wavy-leafed plantain lily

hosta undulata

  • Wavy-edged, narrowly oval leaves, 68 inches long, in a mound 112 feet tall and wide.
  • Typical leaf is green with a creamy white center stripe.
  • Foliage is used in arrangements.
  • Pale lavender flowers.
  • Hosta u.
  • albomarginata has creamy white margins on leaves.
  • Hosta u.
  • erromena is solid green.

blue plantain lily

hosta ventricosa

  • To 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Named for its violet-blue blooms.
  • Leaves are glossy deep green, broadly heart shaped, prominently veined, to 8 inches long.
  • Leaves of Hosta v.
  • aureomaculata are yellowish green with a green border.
  • In 'Aureomarginata' (H.
  • Aureomarginata), each leaf is green edged with creamy white.

Provide good, organically enriched soil with regular feeding during the growing season. A blanket of mulch or low-growing ground cover around plants will prevent mud from splattering leaves. Slugs and snails can ravage hosta foliage; where these pests are a problem, protect plants or choose slug-resistant selections (those with heavily textured or waxy leaves are your best bets). Deer also enjoy hosta.

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