Keep up to date with

Special Gift Offer
URL:
http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/newsletter/2018/09/18/garden-gates-12-best-hostas/
Share:

Garden Gate’s Best Hostas

By: Sherri Ribbey
There are a lot of hostas to choose from. We’ve narrowed it down to 12 of the best hostas for your shade garden!

Hostas are shade garden staples

Hostas are shade garden classics. These easy-to-grow perennials come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes but how to you choose the best hostas? We can help!

Ideal hosta growing conditions

Undemanding and cold-hardy from zones 3 to 8, hostas look best when grown in well-drained soil and part shade, though there are some exceptions that don’t mind more sun. Make sure hostas receive 1 inch of water a week from rain or the hose to get the best-looking foliage that doesn't have crispy edges.

A couple of inches of organic mulch, such as small bark chips, can help conserve water but be sure to keep it pulled away from the crown a few inches to avoid rot.

Hosta foliage is beautiful

Though hostas bloom in late spring through late summer with pale lavender or white flowers, foliage is their main attraction with leaves of blue, gold or green, and many that are variegated.

Try pairing a cool blue hosta with burgundy coral bells (Heuchera hybrids) in your relaxing backyard retreat. Or replace the blue hosta with a chartreuse one for eye-popping results.

Colorful leaves are exciting, but leaf shape and size are a plus, too. Most hostas have heart-shaped or round leaves, but you’ll also find some that are very narrow, others that are cup shaped and yet others with wavy edges. So even hostas that are the same color keep the garden lively.

You might even notice that younger hostas look a little different than the “grownups.” For example, a young ‘Halcyon’ has lance-shaped leaves, but in a few years, they’ll be heart-shaped.

You Might Also Like:
How to clean up hostas in spring
Troubleshooting common hosta problems
Shade garden combos for hosta lovers
Budget-friendly garden border
Colorful shade garden combos
4 easy ways to eliminate slugs in the garden

Large hostas or small hostas?

Hostas come in a huge range of sizes to help any shady garden situation. The largest varieties, such as ‘Sum and Substance’, make people stop and say, “Wow!” They make a great background for smaller plants or a gorgeous specimen. Medium to small hostas create a lovely edging along borders and paths while miniature hostas, such as ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, can be the center of attention in a container.

With all this variety to choose from, where do you begin? Start with an outstanding hosta. There are hundreds available, and most are good choices. But the ones you’ll find below are solid performers and are some of the best hostas we consider our favorites!

‘Sum and Substance’ hosta

This big hosta can hold its own even with shade-garden shrubs, such as bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens). Deeply veined leaves start out light green, change to chartreuse, and then turn golden yellow as the weather warms up. The more morning sun you can give your ‘Sum and Substance’, the brighter gold it will be. In shadier gardens, leaves are greener.

Hosta tip
It can take 5 years or more for slow-growing large hostas, such as 'Sum and Substance' to reach mature size.

Blooms Pale lavender in late summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 30 in. tall by 5 to 6 ft. wide

‘Halcyon’ hosta

‘Halcyon’ is one of the best blue hostas you can grow. Heart-shaped leaves have prominent veins that swoop down the leaf from stem to tip for a simple sophisticated looking hosta.

Hosta tip
Rub a blue hosta leaf with your thumb and forefinger and some of the blue disappears — this is called the “bloom.” This waxy coating is washed away by heavy rain or burned off by too much sun, leaving a green leaf. The leaves will be blue again next year, though. That’s why blue hostas need more shade than those that are green or gold.

Blooms White in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 2 ft. wide

‘Cutting Edge’ hosta

Sometimes a plain-green hosta is just what you need. But why go with just any green hosta when you can have ‘Cutting Edge’? Those wavy leaves have what’s called a “piecrust edge.” With age, the leaves become wavier, and edges curl up to reveal the dusty blue back of the leaf. Mature plants form a dense mound of undulating leaves that create a sense of movement in the garden.

Blooms Lavender in late summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 22 in. tall by 27 in. wide

‘Little Sunspot’ hosta

‘Little Sunspot’ has a deep-green margin that widens as the plant gets older. Morning sun will turn the center brilliant gold in the North, but full shade is better in hot Southern gardens. ‘Little Sunspot’ adds some extra punch at the front of the border with its beautiful variegation and it multiplies quickly so you’ll have plenty to share with friends.

Hosta tip
'Little Sunspot' and many other hosta varieties have puckering on the leaves — also called “seersuckering” — which gives the plant an interesting texture up close.

Blooms Lavender in early summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 10 in. tall by 15 in. wide

‘Sagae’ hosta

Big, beautiful ‘Sagae’ is one of the earliest hostas to emerge in spring. Leaf margins unfurl bright yellow and turn creamy by midsummer. When planting a young ‘Sagae’, remember to give it plenty of room — this hosta can get 5 feet wide! This hosta was formerly known as Hosta fluctuans ‘Variegated’ so you may occasionally see it listed that way.

Hosta tip
The best time to divide hostas is in spring. New leaves are emerging so it's easy to see where the plant is and there's not a lot of foliage in the way.

Blooms Lavender in summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 2½ ft. tall by 5 ft. wide

‘One Man’s Treasure’ hosta

Most hostas have showy leaves but in the case of ‘One Man’s Treasure’, it’s the stems, or petioles, that are the star — they're covered in red-purple spots up to the leaf blade. Plant it on a terrace or raised bed where you can fully appreciate the colorful stems as you go by. ‘One Man’s Treasure’ grows in an open, arching mound with bell-shaped violet flowers on even darker stems.

Blooms Violet in late summer to fall Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 14 in. tall by 24 in. wide

'Curly Fries' hosta

What’s really cool about this pretty hosta are the stiff, but not rigid, ruffled foliage. Leaves emerge chartreuse in spring, then turn gold. If it’s growing in a little more sun, leaves will fade to creamy white by late summer. Deep purple scapes carry lavender flowers in late summer.

Hosta tip
Grow it in containers or along a shady path — somewhere you can reach out and touch it to make sure it’s real.

Blooms Lavender in late summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 5 in. tall, 16 in. wide

‘Wheee!’ hosta

Ruffly leaves with a creamy edge that goes all the way down to the crown make 'Wheee' a standout. And it's a strong growing variety with thick leaves that slugs won't bother.

Hosta tip
If you have several hostas and want a grouping that's full but not overcrowded, space them their mature width apart on center.

Blooms Purple in midsummer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 11 to 18 in. tall, 28 to 30 in. wide

‘June’ hosta

You’ll never get bored with this beautiful hosta. In spring, leaf centers are chartreuse then change to a creamy yellow by summer.You’ll get the best color by growing ‘June’ in morning sun and afternoon shade. In full shade the center stays chartreuse and the blue margins fade.

Hosta tip
Slugs seem to pass by hostas, such as June, that have thick leaves and look for dinner elsewhere.

Blooms White in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 30 in. wide

‘Patriot’ hosta

The irregular bright-white margins of ‘Patriot’ add sparkle to your shade garden. ‘Patriot’ is a good choice for gardens where summers get hot — it can take the heat and still look good especially with a couple of inches of mulch and regular watering.

Hosta tip
Some hostas, such as 'Patriot' are later to emerge in spring than others.

Blooms Pale lavender in midsummer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 36 in. wide

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is one of the best miniature hostas you can grow. Tiny but mighty, this little dynamo has thick blue-green leaves that form a tight mound. Use it to edge a path or make it the highlight of a fairy garden. Watch for the flowers in summer — they swell up like tiny balloons before they open.

Blooms Lavender in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 6 in. tall by 12 in. wide

‘Krossa Regal’ hosta

The vaselike habit of ‘Krossa Regal’ makes it a standout in the world of hostas. Rising upward rather than out, it brings an architectural element to the border. This upright habit also makes ‘Krossa Regal’ a great choice for containers — there’s room below for more plants!

Hosta tip
For happy, healthy hostas in a container, use a pot with drainage holes and a soilless potting mix to help prevent root rot. Water regularly, and feed with a slow-release plant food on the surface of the potting medium each spring.

Blooms Lavender flowers in mid- to late summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 32 in. tall by 6 ft. wide

‘Revolution’ hosta

Flecks, streaks and marbling are out-of-the-ordinary markings for hostas, so it’s no surprise ‘Revolution’ is popular. Some hostas with this type of variegation can be short-lived but ‘Revolution’ comes back year after year. Thick leaves form a nice upright mound with confettilike flecks on a creamy center. The flecks start out pale in spring but grow darker as the season progresses. Placing ‘Revolution’ where it gets morning sun will bring out the best leaf color, but in the South, full shade is your best bet.

Blooms Pale lavender in spring Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 18 in. tall by 24 in. wide

‘Sun Power’ hosta

‘Sun Power’ can take full sun in all but the hottest areas and needs at least 2 hours of sun to get that beautiful gold foliage color. Ruffled leaves emerge chartreuse in the spring and rapidly change to gold.

Hosta tip
Hostas, such as 'Sun Power, that can take more light need some extra help. More sun means more heat so be sure to water regularly and apply a couple of inches of mulch to conserve moisture.

Blooms Lavender in spring Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 22 in. tall by 36 in. wide

‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ hosta

Big blue cup-shaped leaves are what make this hosta so distinctive. They can be up to 3 inches deep and have a seersucker texture — that's the puckery look you see on the leaf. Its flowers sit just above the foliage instead of on tall scapes like many other varieties. 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd' is slow growing but worth the wait.

Hosta tip
Snip spent flower scapes off below the foliage once blooms are done. This tidies up the plant and prevents the hostas from wasting energy forming seed.

Blooms White flowers in early summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 30 to 36 in. wide

‘Autumn Frost’ hosta

The head-turning foliage of 'First Frost' has a blue center with wide bright yellow margins (that’s the outer edge of the leaf ) in early spring that changes to creamy white by summer. You couldn’t ask for a more dramatic hosta. And those gorgeous leaves are thick so slugs are less likely to start nibbling.

Blooms Lavender in late spring Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 12 to 16 in. tall, 20 to 24 in. wide

‘Sum and Substance’ hosta

This big hosta can hold its own even with shade-garden shrubs, such as bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens). Deeply veined leaves start out light green, change to chartreuse, and then turn golden yellow as the weather warms up. The more morning sun you can give your ‘Sum and Substance’, the brighter gold it will be. In shadier gardens, leaves are greener.

Hosta tip
It can take 5 years or more for slow-growing large hostas, such as 'Sum and Substance' to reach mature size.

Blooms Pale lavender in late summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 30 in. tall by 5 to 6 ft. wide

‘June’ hosta

You’ll never get bored with this beautiful hosta. In spring, leaf centers are chartreuse then change to a creamy yellow by summer.You’ll get the best color by growing ‘June’ in morning sun and afternoon shade. In full shade the center stays chartreuse and the blue margins fade.

Hosta tip
Slugs seem to pass by hostas, such as June, that have thick leaves and look for dinner elsewhere.

Blooms White in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 30 in. wide

‘Halcyon’ hosta

‘Halcyon’ is one of the best blue hostas you can grow. Heart-shaped leaves have prominent veins that swoop down the leaf from stem to tip for a simple sophisticated looking hosta.

Hosta tip
Rub a blue hosta leaf with your thumb and forefinger and some of the blue disappears — this is called the “bloom.” This waxy coating is washed away by heavy rain or burned off by too much sun, leaving a green leaf. The leaves will be blue again next year, though. That’s why blue hostas need more shade than those that are green or gold.

Blooms White in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 2 ft. wide

‘Patriot’ hosta

The irregular bright-white margins of ‘Patriot’ add sparkle to your shade garden. ‘Patriot’ is a good choice for gardens where summers get hot — it can take the heat and still look good especially with a couple of inches of mulch and regular watering.

Hosta tip
Some hostas, such as 'Patriot' are later to emerge in spring than others.

Blooms Pale lavender in midsummer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 15 in. tall by 36 in. wide

‘Cutting Edge’ hosta

Sometimes a plain-green hosta is just what you need. But why go with just any green hosta when you can have ‘Cutting Edge’? Those wavy leaves have what’s called a “piecrust edge.” With age, the leaves become wavier, and edges curl up to reveal the dusty blue back of the leaf. Mature plants form a dense mound of undulating leaves that create a sense of movement in the garden.

Blooms Lavender in late summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 22 in. tall by 27 in. wide

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is one of the best miniature hostas you can grow. Tiny but mighty, this little dynamo has thick blue-green leaves that form a tight mound. Use it to edge a path or make it the highlight of a fairy garden. Watch for the flowers in summer — they swell up like tiny balloons before they open.

Blooms Lavender in midsummer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 6 in. tall by 12 in. wide

‘Little Sunspot’ hosta

‘Little Sunspot’ has a deep-green margin that widens as the plant gets older. Morning sun will turn the center brilliant gold in the North, but full shade is better in hot Southern gardens. ‘Little Sunspot’ adds some extra punch at the front of the border with its beautiful variegation and it multiplies quickly so you’ll have plenty to share with friends.

Hosta tip
'Little Sunspot' and many other hosta varieties have puckering on the leaves — also called “seersuckering” — which gives the plant an interesting texture up close.

Blooms Lavender in early summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 10 in. tall by 15 in. wide

‘Krossa Regal’ hosta

The vaselike habit of ‘Krossa Regal’ makes it a standout in the world of hostas. Rising upward rather than out, it brings an architectural element to the border. This upright habit also makes ‘Krossa Regal’ a great choice for containers — there’s room below for more plants!

Hosta tip
For happy, healthy hostas in a container, use a pot with drainage holes and a soilless potting mix to help prevent root rot. Water regularly, and feed with a slow-release plant food on the surface of the potting medium each spring.

Blooms Lavender flowers in mid- to late summer Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 32 in. tall by 6 ft. wide

‘Sagae’ hosta

Big, beautiful ‘Sagae’ is one of the earliest hostas to emerge in spring. Leaf margins unfurl bright yellow and turn creamy by midsummer. When planting a young ‘Sagae’, remember to give it plenty of room — this hosta can get 5 feet wide! This hosta was formerly known as Hosta fluctuans ‘Variegated’ so you may occasionally see it listed that way.

Hosta tip
The best time to divide hostas is in spring. New leaves are emerging so it's easy to see where the plant is and there's not a lot of foliage in the way.

Blooms Lavender in summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 2½ ft. tall by 5 ft. wide

‘Revolution’ hosta

Flecks, streaks and marbling are out-of-the-ordinary markings for hostas, so it’s no surprise ‘Revolution’ is popular. Some hostas with this type of variegation can be short-lived but ‘Revolution’ comes back year after year. Thick leaves form a nice upright mound with confettilike flecks on a creamy center. The flecks start out pale in spring but grow darker as the season progresses. Placing ‘Revolution’ where it gets morning sun will bring out the best leaf color, but in the South, full shade is your best bet.

Blooms Pale lavender in spring Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 18 in. tall by 24 in. wide

‘One Man’s Treasure’ hosta

Most hostas have showy leaves but in the case of ‘One Man’s Treasure’, it’s the stems, or petioles, that are the star — they're covered in red-purple spots up to the leaf blade. Plant it on a terrace or raised bed where you can fully appreciate the colorful stems as you go by. ‘One Man’s Treasure’ grows in an open, arching mound with bell-shaped violet flowers on even darker stems.

Blooms Violet in late summer to fall Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 14 in. tall by 24 in. wide

‘Sun Power’ hosta

‘Sun Power’ can take full sun in all but the hottest areas and needs at least 2 hours of sun to get that beautiful gold foliage color. Ruffled leaves emerge chartreuse in the spring and rapidly change to gold.

Hosta tip
Hostas, such as 'Sun Power, that can take more light need some extra help. More sun means more heat so be sure to water regularly and apply a couple of inches of mulch to conserve moisture.

Blooms Lavender in spring Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 22 in. tall by 36 in. wide

'Curly Fries' hosta

What’s really cool about this pretty hosta are the stiff, but not rigid, ruffled foliage. Leaves emerge chartreuse in spring, then turn gold. If it’s growing in a little more sun, leaves will fade to creamy white by late summer. Deep purple scapes carry lavender flowers in late summer.

Hosta tip
Grow it in containers or along a shady path — somewhere you can reach out and touch it to make sure it’s real.

Blooms Lavender in late summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 5 in. tall, 16 in. wide

‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ hosta

Big blue cup-shaped leaves are what make this hosta so distinctive. They can be up to 3 inches deep and have a seersucker texture — that's the puckery look you see on the leaf. Its flowers sit just above the foliage instead of on tall scapes like many other varieties. 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd' is slow growing but worth the wait.

Hosta tip
Snip spent flower scapes off below the foliage once blooms are done. This tidies up the plant and prevents the hostas from wasting energy forming seed.

Blooms White flowers in early summer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 30 to 36 in. wide

‘Wheee!’ hosta

Ruffly leaves with a creamy edge that goes all the way down to the crown make 'Wheee' a standout. And it's a strong growing variety with thick leaves that slugs won't bother.

Hosta tip
If you have several hostas and want a grouping that's full but not overcrowded, space them their mature width apart on center.

Blooms Purple in midsummer Light 2 to 4 hours of shade Size 11 to 18 in. tall, 28 to 30 in. wide

‘Autumn Frost’ hosta

The head-turning foliage of 'First Frost' has a blue center with wide bright yellow margins (that’s the outer edge of the leaf ) in early spring that changes to creamy white by summer. You couldn’t ask for a more dramatic hosta. And those gorgeous leaves are thick so slugs are less likely to start nibbling.

Blooms Lavender in late spring Light 4 to 5 hours of shade Size 12 to 16 in. tall, 20 to 24 in. wide

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work in the garden. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Related Tags

beds borders easy to grow island bed part shade plant recommendations shade

Also in This Newsletter


Last Week’s Newsletter

September 11, 2018

8 cool-weather plants

Don’t stop gardening when the temperature drops! Here are 8 gorgeous cool-weather plants that don’t mind a little chill in the air.

How to save tomato seeds

Planning to grow the same tomatoes in the your garden next year? Here’s our simple fermentation process to save tomato seeds for years to come.