Got a shady corner you want to brighten? Count on hosta plants to fill shady spots with leafy textures and colors that pop. Hostas are long-lived perennials with easy-growing personalities. These undemanding plants require minimal upkeep to look their best. For low-maintenance shade garden beauty, it’s tough to beat hostas.
Hostas originally come from China, Japan and the islands of South Korea. These outstanding foliage plants grow best in rich, well-drained soils. You won’t go wrong adding organic matter to planting holes for hostas. Work in composted leaves, composted manure or whatever type of local compost you can get your hands on. Compost helps improve soil nutrition and moisture in a way that hostas love.
Most hostas are hardy in Zones 3 to 9, making them a perfect fit for gardens from Maine to Florida and Washington to Texas. Hosta plants don’t tolerate drought, so be sure to provide ample water. Most hostas grow best in part shade, although some hosta varieties can tolerate a little direct sun. Hostas for sun include ones with yellow or white leaves, thicker leaves and flowers with fragrance.
During the course of the growing season, expect to see flower stems appear on your hostas. These stems support a spike of white to lavender blooms. The flowers beckon bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. The long stems look beautiful added to garden bouquets. If you’re primarily growing your hostas for the leaf color they bring to the landscape, you might want to clip flower stems as they form. This creates a consistent look in your hosta plants, although the blue leaf types typically produce another flowering stalk if deadheaded.
As much as gardeners like hostas for their steady, reliable beauty, deer like them for their tasty foliage. Rabbits also find hosta leaves, especially the new shoots, particularly irresistible. Do a little research and you’ll discover a host of tips and techniques for keeping critters away from hostas. Everything from fabric softener in a spray bottle, to home brews featuring garlic and capsaicin, to rotten egg sprays. What works for one gardener may not work for your backyard’s herd of deer, although most folks report consistent success with dried blood repellents and plastic bird netting tossed loosely over plants.
Slugs and snails also wreak havoc on hostas. This is another pest that you can find all kinds of tips for dealing with. Try pet-safe slug baits, pine straw mulch and various traps to keep slugs and snails in check. It’s also worthwhile to learn when these slimy munchers reproduce. For many snails and slugs, fall is an egg-laying time. Eggs hatch and young slugs go into winter hiding. In spring, they appear early and have voracious appetites. Continue to treat for slugs in fall to put a dent in populations.