Hostas

The genus of the hostas is made up of a large number of attractive ornamental foliage perennials that are no longer just planted in the shade garden.

Not all places in the garden are spoiled by the sun. In contrast to many other plants, the hosta feels very comfortable in the shade.

It’s therefore ideal for greening shady or damp locations in the garden. So which side of house is ideal for planting Hostas?

It’s best to plant Hostas on the north side of the house or under a shady canopy of large hardy trees. Hostas can add accents on the shaded side of your privacy or border and also add beauty to your surrounding.

With its impressive foliage, it turns otherwise neglected parts of the garden into real gems.

If you want to successfully grow hostas, we have summarized everything you need to know about the popular ornamental leaf in this article.

Here you can find out where the hosta comes from, which varieties there are, what you should pay attention to when buying, how to plant and care for them and how you can propagate hostas yourself.

As a shade-loving perennial, The origin of the funkie lies in forests, on the edges of forests and on damp meadows. As a result, her requirements for the location are easy to fathom: She wants them to be planted in a shady to moderately partially shaded and optimally protected location.

In this article, we would discuss how to grow hostas in our home gardens, and consider the factors affecting the growth of this plant.

Origin

Hosta, also known as heart lilies, are among the most beautiful ornamental leaves , along with the purple bells.

Most of the 40 or so wild species come from Japan, some are also native to China and Korea. They belong to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae) and live mainly in cool, moist mountain forests on humus-rich, evenly moist soils.

In Japan, the perennials are highly valued because of their clear leaf shape with the almost graphical course of the veins and have been cultivated as ornamental plants for centuries.

In 2009 the Funkie was voted Perennial of the Year by the Association of German Perennial Gardeners.

There are enough reasons: The attractive, hardy perennial with its large, decorative leaves brings variety to any shade bed, but is just as suitable for the pot garden.

It was also the wish of the organization to make the distinctive and at the same time easy-care perennial even better known with this campaign and thus to promote the diversity of plants in our home gardens.

Appearance and stature

Funkia are available in both miniature and XXL formats. Depending on the species and variety, the heart-shaped, spatulate or lanceolate leaves of the hostas are creamy white, yellow-green, steel blue or dark green, often multi-colored and with a decorative pattern. Some varieties have beautiful, golden yellow leaves in autumn.

Characteristic of the mid-green leaves of the white-bordered funkie (Hosta Sieboldii) is the narrow white border that gives it its name.

All hostas grow relatively slowly. They form thick, fleshy rhizomes and sometimes additional runners over which they spread in the bed. The mostly pendulous, white to lilac-colored bell-shaped blossoms sit in spikes like inflorescences on long, sparsely leafed to bare stems.

Location and soil

With their large leaves, the perennials have adapted to partially shaded to shady locations that should be cool and evenly humid.

The soil should be rich in humus, sandy to loamy and fresh to moderately moist. In general, most hostas feel more comfortable in partial shade and shade than in the blazing sun. 

The darker and more delicate the leaves, the more shady the location should be. Conversely, this means: hostas with thick, firm leaves that are more light green or yellowish can withstand direct sunlight better. In terms of soil conditions, the different varieties are more similar.

Fresh, well-drained soils are ideal for hostas. If they are also rich in nutrients and humus and are not prone to waterlogging, your host will feel right at home in their new home.

In contrast to all other species of hosta, Hosta plantaginea can also stand a sunny and warm location – only then does this species bloom with lush white flowers that are strongly scented.

With its flowering period from August to September, it is also the latest hostage, all others bloom in June and July. These should only be placed in full sun when the soil is sufficiently moist. In very wind-exposed locations, the perennials are somewhat sensitive to late frost.

Planting Hostas

Hostas can be planted from spring to autumn. In May, wait until the ice saints are over so that the young plants are not surprised by late frosts.

The planting distance varies greatly depending on the species and variety: It is best to find out more about this on the plant label.

How to Care for Hostas

Hostas are naturally long-lived and will become more beautiful over the years if you let them grow undisturbed. A division of your hostas is only necessary if the clumps become too large or the plants are to be multiplied.

The foliage of the hostas turns yellow in autumn and usually rots by itself in winter because it is very soft. The remains can be easily removed in the spring if necessary.

Hostas are not a food lover: Young plants should be fertilized with a little ripe compost when they sprout in spring so that they can quickly develop into stately specimens.

Important when caring for hostas that are cultivated in pots: The plants must be watered regularly and abundantly, because a lot of water evaporates from the large leaves. If the dry phase does not last too long, this is usually not a problem for the robust perennials either.

Overwintering or winter protection

In itself, hostas are very hardy and do not need any help with wintering. This is especially true of free-range hostas. With hostas in pots , in very cold regions it can still do no harm to move the plants to a sheltered place near the house wall.

In severe frost, a light protection made of jute or brushwood is recommended. To protect the pots from frost on the ground, they are placed on styrofoam or wooden plates. Hostas are definitely overwintered outdoors.

Uses of Hostas

Hostas are indispensable for semi-shady to shady beds on humus-rich soils in forest and shady gardens and, with their enormous variety, invite you to collect. In the Japan Garden , too , you should definitely reserve a few places for them in a partially shaded location.

They go well with rhododendrons and other forest plants and can also be socialized with less competitive perennials and woody plants without getting too close to them.

Beautiful optical effects can be achieved by combining hostas with shadow grasses such as Japanese mountain grass (Hakonechloa), various ferns , rodgersias and other ornamental perennials .

Hostas are also ideal as hardy potted plants and are surprisingly resistant to temporary drought in the potted garden, provided they are not in full sun. The flower shoots look very elegant as cut flowers in the vase.

Important species and varieties

The garden hybrids of the Funkia vary greatly in size: small-leaved dwarf forms such as ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ are barely 20 centimeters high, the stately blue-leaf hostas (Hosta Sieboldiana ‘Elegans’) reach 80 centimeters in height with their inflorescences and can be used in beds after a few years easily take up a square meter of space.

The gray- leaf funkie (Hosta fortunei) is a hybrid in which one parent is the blue-leaf funkie (Hosta Sieboldiana), the other is unknown. From the Japanese corrugated leaf funkie , the snow feather funkie (Hosta undulata ‘Univittata’) was selected.

Of all the hostas, the bell hosta has the most beautiful flowers. In any case, the subsequent location and personal taste are decisive for purchase: In view of the great diversity of species and varieties of hostas, the right specimen can be found for every garden.

Multiplication (Propagating Hostas)

For propagation, the rhizomes are divided with a sharp spade in spring or autumn. Since the perennials grow very slowly, the yield of daughter plants is not particularly high. This is also the reason why hostas are relatively expensive in the nursery.

Diseases and pests of Hostas

The main enemies of the hostas are the nudibranchs – there is hardly a plant in the garden that they like better than the young shoots of the hosta in spring. If there are a lot of snails in your garden, you should protect the plants with slug pellets in early spring. 

Another protective measure against annoying snails: Put the leaf beauties in a raised container. An étagère with a collection of different types of funkias is an enrichment for a partially shaded seat. In addition, you can achieve interesting design effects in the bed with large containers. In the meantime there are also some snail-resistant hostas on the market : keep an eye out for them when buying.

A very special pathogen is the Hosta virus X (HVX), which has been spreading in Germany since the turn of the millennium.

You can recognize infected hostas by the unusually marked to speckled leaves with sunken tissue and stunted growth.

Infested plants should be removed from the bed immediately and disposed of in the household waste to prevent them from spreading to the healthy hostas.

Conclusion

Hostas can be grown in your home garden with the proper care, and soil nutrients. In this article, we have explained the growth of this plant in detail to help you become a better gardener.

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