Hosta Plant Varieties
Discover the amazing variety of forms, colors and textures available in different types of hostas. This incredible group of perennials features more than 8,000 named cultivars. There’s definitely a hosta to please every single gardener. The many different hosta varieties originally came from roughly 40 hosta species native to China, Japan and the islands of South Korea.
Hosta varieties cover the gamut in terms of size. Tiny miniature types grow 2 inches tall and 4 to 6 inches wide, and gargantuan hosta varieties reach a mature size of 48 inches across and 60 inches tall.
Small hosta varieties offer an ideal size for planting along walkways, in shady rock gardens or in fairy gardens. To keep small plants from disappearing among full-size counterparts, many gardeners tuck miniature types of hostas into containers. This technique works especially well in mild-winter regions, where temperatures aren’t cold enough to damage the plants.
The names of miniature hostas usually contain clues that the plants are small, such as ‘Baby Booties’ (5 inches tall, 19 inches wide), ‘Bitsy Gold’ (8 inches tall, 21 inches wide) or ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (8 inches tall, 12 inches wide). Most nurseries that specialize in selling many hosta varieties usually have lists of miniature types.
Giant hostas also frequently have names that contain clues to the plant’s size. A few larger-than-life hostas include ‘Bigga Luigi’ (25 inches tall, 80 inches wide), ‘Big Daddy’ (25 inches tall, 66 inches wide), ‘Kingsize’ (48 inches tall, 84 inches wide) and ‘Frost Giant’ (28 inches tall, 72 inches wide). One of the most well known giant hostas is ‘Empress Wu’, which grows to a hefty 48 inches tall and 60 to 72 inches wide, with individual leaves up to 18 inches across.
Giant hosta varieties can hold their own anywhere in a landscape, but look especially lovely planted beneath mature trees, atop retaining walls or as part of a hosta garden that fills a shady area. Pair large hosta varieties with shrubs and small trees to create plant combinations that are to scale. Or achieve the same effect by planting large and medium hostas side by side. Just be sure to space plants properly to avoid having the large one engulf the smaller.
Slug-resistant types of hostas make it possible to grow these leafy perennials with less slug and snail damage. The slug-resistant hostas typically offer leaves that are thicker, blue or have a seersucker texture. The names of classic slug-resistant hostas, like ‘Sum and Substance’, ‘One Man’s Treasure’ and ‘Praying Hands’, don’t give a clue about their non-appeal to slugs. Others, like ‘Alligator Shoes’, ‘Rhino Hide’ and ‘Bulletproof’, offer names that are more forthcoming in terms of slug resistance.
Other hosta varieties offer outstanding leaf color in shades of blue, gold, chartreuse and variegated patterns. There’s even a white leaf hosta, ‘White Feather’. It’s worth a visit to a garden center or nursery that specializes in hostas if you’re considering filling a shady area of your yard with these leafy wonders. You’ll discover the vast array of hosta varieties available, including ones that open fragrant flowers.