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!
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.
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Hosta foliage is beautiful
Though hostas do bloom in late spring through late summer with pale lavender or white flowers, foliage is their main attraction. But don’t think you can’t have color — hostas come in shades of blue, gold or green, including many with variegated leaves. 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 in the garden, too. Most hostas have heart-shaped or round leaves, but you’ll also find some that are very narrow, others that are cupshaped and yet others with wavy edges. So even hostas that are the same color keep the garden lively with different leaf shapes and sizes.
You might 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.
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Big or small hostas?
A large hosta like ‘Sum and Substance’ makes people stop and say, “Wow!” It’s a great background for smaller plants or a gorgeous specimen. On the other hand, smaller hostas look great edging a path. But even a miniature hosta like ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ can be the center of attention in a container.
So 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 these 12 solid performers are some of our favorites.