Where to Use Hostas
Hostas look great on their own or mixed into a perennial or shrub border, as background plants, specimens, ground covers or edging plants. The different sizes, leaf shapes, textures, color and variegation all add to the seemingly endless design possibilities. Ferns, dicentras, carex and other fine foliaged plants make good companion plants with their delicate foliage. Shrubs, tall perennials and architectural obstacles that can be challenging are softened with the use of hostas. Use them to outline a pathway or encircle a tree trunk. Browse through our selection to find the variety of hostas to meet your landscape needs.
Well rooted plants sometimes benefit from the root being spread or fanned when transplanting to encourage new root growth. When considering planting depth, the soil line of the liner should match the soil line in the new container. For better performance, we suggest stepping Hosta to a quart sized container and transplanting to a gallon once rooted in the quart. If you choose to plant the liners direct to a gallon sized container, use media that has excellent drainage as small plants in a large container tend to be over watered. Liners can also be planted directly in the ground after roots are spread apart.
Many formulas exist and work well. Good drainage and a low to moderate nutrient charge is important. A standard mix of 50 to 60% aged pine bark, 20 to 30% sphagnum peat moss, 5 to 15% perlite, and 5 to 15% vermiculite with a minimal initial nutrient charge has shown consistently good results. The pH should be maintained between 5.8 and 6.5 for commercial potting mixes. A pH above recommended levels can result in yellowing between the veins of certain varieties due to iron deficiency induced by high pH.
Feeding with high rates of nitrogen has decreased root growth and increased root and crown disease (rhizoctonia). Slow-release fertilizers can be used at low to moderate rates. A continuous liquid-feed can also be used at 150 ppm nitrogen for sustained nutritional needs. If plants are fertilized in late summer, a low to moderate level of slow release with very little nitrogen in the analysis (such as 7-20-20 or 10-20-20) can be applied. In no instance should large amounts of nitrogen be provided as lush active growth could result in the loss of plants.
LIGHT AND HUMIDITY
If slow growth is desired, keep greenhouses temperatures below 50 F. For moderate growth, day temperatures should be kept below 65 F. For the most rapid growth, day temperatures should be below 78 F, with night temperatures up to 70 F. Minimum night temperatures should be kept above 35 F. Light levels should be kept below 5000 foot-candles. The use of 50% shade cloth or shade paint is often used. Excessive light may cause irregular bleached areas on leaves, called sun scald on sensitive varieties.
Relative humidity is generally not a concern unless large plants are grown close together. In this instance, the bottom leaves will yellow due to low light conditions and can become food for botrytis (grey mold). Good air movement and sanitation will keep botrytis to a minimum.
The best root development occurs when plants are allowed to dry slightly between waterings. It is best to water early in the morning. As with all plants, it is important not to over-feed or over-water. Hostas in a dormant state do not use much water. Severe or prolonged dry conditions, on the other hand, may force hostas into dormancy.
Recently divided hostas, as well as hostas directly from Tissue Culture, may be slightly off their normal cycle. Flowering times can be different from normal and on rare occasions a flower spike may emerge in the spring before any leaves appear. If this occurs, the spike should be broken off to encourage new shoot development. If new shoots are rising up, through the old dead leaves, the old leaves may need to be carefully removed. Some cultivars may produce 2-6 side shoots after flowering. Hostas change throughout the season as well as in their four to six year maturing process. Intensity of most leaf colors and variegation develops from early spring throughout the growing season. Some plants produce their most distinctive color in early spring and diminish as the season progresses. As a hosta matures, the height increases, leaf margins may widen, some may take on a more round leaf or develop a quilted, puckering appearance. It is possible you may not see some of these true adult characteristics develop for a couple of years. Occasionally, they produce sports of a different leaf color from the original plant. Your order is selected with the utmost care by our quality control staff. We offer only those hostas we deem reasonably stable. However, in rare circumstances, reversion or sports do occur.
We have found that the most reliable way to overwinter potted tissue cultured hosta for us has been to let them enter dormancy naturally, keep them in heated storage/hoop unit kept at 35-42 degrees F for at least 8 weeks. Another reliable way is to plant the hosta in the ground and give them a 6" mulch of straw or other non-packing material after the ground freezes. We suggest planting them at least 8 to 10 weeks before the earliest frost date for this method. If neither of the above are possible for overwintering, an unheated building may be used. This is not as effective for the younger plants- at least in our northern region due to the extreme freezing and thawing especially in early spring.. If you are letting the plants freeze, the plants should be insulated with straw, microfoam or other material to keep the plants at a uniform temperature once they freeze, as successive freezing and thawing harm the plants.
HOSTA INSECTS AND DISEASES
If proper nutrition and watering is followed, disease should not be a problem. Excessive or deficient water or excessive nitrogen can lead to root and crown rot (rhizoctonia) which can be suppressed with Clearys 3336, Chipso 26019 or Medallion when applied as a drench.
Slugs are the most common problem plaguing hostas. They produce holes in the foliage making the plant less attractive. Slugs can be picked off the foliage at night, when they are active, and dropped into vinegar or salt water. Another common remedy is beer or yeast dissolved in water. Set this out in margarine containers to attract and drown slugs. Some gardeners put down coarse or rough barriers around the hostas, such as lime, sand, egg shells or wood ashes. There are also commercial baits which work. Be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions. Put the bait under a board or rock to keep birds and pets from ingesting these poisons. If slug populations are kept in check, hostas should grow without a lot of chemicals to keep them looking their best.
Hosta Virus X and other viruses are becoming more common in bare root hostas. When an infected plant is cut, the infected plant's sap can infect a healthy plant when the healthy plant is cut with the tool that was used to cut the infected plant. Precautions can be taken by disinfecting tools with bleach in between each cutting. Washing hands/gloves is also important. Above all, when an infected plant is discovered, it needs to be disposed of or burned. The virus can not live without a host plant. It is also important to learn the signs of a virus. Some images are available at www.hostalibrary.org to see the telltale markings. It seems that the Virus has been spreading more rapidly in our industry through bare root material. Many times the plants are dug in huge batches and the machines are not disinfected between each plant causing many plants to become infected in a short period of time.
Many times we get questions on Hosta viruses and the benefits of tissue cultured plants vs. field grown divisions that have been imported from unknown sources. Specifically, we have 100% of our varieties of Hosta virus indexed for seven types of virus as follows:
Hosta descriptions on our website and catalog include an indication of size at maturity. These sizes are approximate and will vary with soil conditions, climate and other environmental factors. The hybridizer and year of registration is also listed in the descrption. Our sizing chart follows:
SLUG RESISTANT HOSTA
Heavier and tougher leaves are general characteristics of slug resistant hosta. Cultivars in this category are not guaranteed to be immune to slug damage, but generally are not bothered to any great extent unless there are heavy infestations of slugs.
MINIATURE HOSTA VARIETIES
"Mini" sized hosta are under 6 inches tall and "VS" hostas are 6 to 10 inches. They are well suited to planting between rocks or in crevices. These also work great in the dwarf, trough, rock and container gardens that are so popular today.
FRAGRANT FLOWERED HOSTAS
Plant these hostas along paths and around decks, windows and doors where their fragrance can be appreciated. Scent intensifies in the evening hours. Most produce white or nearly white flowers.
VERY LARGE HOSTAS
Once in a while a really large hosta comes along. They can add spectacular drama to the landscape and create a wonderful backdrop for smaller hostas and perennials. The sizes can range from 3 feet to 5 feet depending on environmental conditions. However, it may take 5 years or longer for these to reach their mature size.
Variegated hostas show margins of white, cream or soft gold which contrasts with the leaf center. When used as mass plantings, their variegation gives interest through the day as the light and shadows of your garden area changes. Because variegated hosta range in all sizes from dwarf to handsomely large, there should be a variety just right for every garden! Many varieties such as white-margined 'Patriot' or creamy gold-margined 'American Icon' PP#17,441 are perfect as specimen plants, sure to become an eye catching conversation piece.
Hostas with medio-variegation patterns (a lighter center and darker margin) are a very popular look in hostas as more are becoming bred. Medio-Variegated hostas are a delight for both confirmed collectors and beginning gardeners who are looking for that "something special" hosta.
YELLOW TO GOLD HOSTA
BLUE SHADES OF HOSTA
Blues need darker areas of shade and cool temperatures to hold their deep blue colors. In lighter areas or direct sunlight, the blue coloration is not as intense. Blues are great accents next to gold colored flowers or foliage as well as many other bright annuals such as pink impatiens.
GREEN SHADES OF HOSTA
Green shades blend most easily with all other colors of hosta and companion plants. Using large greens to form a backdrop will show off more colorful varieties of plants while providing a soothing background color. Smaller greens help to develop continuity in the garden and keeps the garden from looking disjointed or overly busy.
SUN RESISTANT HOSTAS
Most hostas will tolerate 'some-sun' conditions if they are kept reasonably moist. Sun Resistant hostas perform better than many hostas in 3/4 to full sun. They may still show some burning in hot, dry conditions. In sunny locations expect that blue hostas will look greener; green varieties may look lighter; and gold varieties will look brighter.