Tropical Style

Hosta & Plantain Lily

A garden may be a serene tapestry of shades of green, white and complementary purple when it is implanted with hostas (Hosta spp.) , also called plantain lilies. Hostas are acceptable for gardens and landscapes in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9 and in cooler regions of greater zones. The plants are herbaceous perennials grown mainly for their lush foliage, even though they do produce a light pink or purple flower on a long stem or scape.

What’s In a Name

Hostas are plants which have undergone several changes in title and classification since the plant had been brought to Europe from Asia in the 1780s. First called “hosta” in the early 1800s by Austrian botanist Nicholas Thomas Host, it had been known as “funkia” by botanist Heinrich Christian Funk from the late 1800s, a name it still goes by in certain European countries. “Plantain lily” comes from the plant’s similarity to the broadleaf plantain weed. Also, the plant was initially put in the extensive lily family, Liliaceae, but has been classified in its own sub family, Hostaceae, because the 1980s.

Hosta Varieties

There are more than 2,000 enrolled hosta cultivars over 70 species and subspecies, in addition to hybrid crosses. Siebold hostas (H. sieboldiana) typically feature big blue-green leaves, some with cream to yellow variegation. Fragrant plantain lilies (H. plantaginea), with glowing light green leaves and sweet-smelling white flowers can thrive in sunlight. Fortune’s plantain lily (H. fortunei) has light purple flowers and oval- to heart-shaped leaves which are dark green, with some variegated white cultivars. Narrow-leafed hosta (H. lancifolia) bears thin leaves which may be dark green or variegated with white. Sizes vary from miniatures like 6-to-12-inch-tall, bright yellow “Small Aurora” (H. “Small Aurora) to the glossy green “Sum and Substance” (H. “Sum and Substance), which may grow 3 to 6 feet tall and wide.

Cultural Requirements

Hostas are long-lived plants when grown in rich soil amended with organic matter. They profit from additional compost around the clump every year and regular feeding in spring and summer using a fluid or slow-release granular fertilizer. The plants need a lot of moisture to thrive, at least 1 inch of water per week when it does not rain. Hostas which are overly dry droop and may go dormant, but the soil ought to be moist instead of wet to prevent decay. Although mainly shade fans, some hosta varieties may grow in full sunlight and in many cases partial sunlight intensifies colour or variegation. Nevertheless, plants in sunny conditions require additional water. Hostas go dormant in the winter, leaves yellowing, desiccating and shouted even in Mediterranean climates. The plants do need to grow where they experience at least 30 nights of temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below every winter to thrive.


Hostas are easily propagated by division, although they may be divided and planted anytime the plant isn’t actively flowering, there are more times compared to other to split the plants. Many species hostas and people that have rapid growth rates are divided in early spring, just as shoots poke through the soil. Sieboldiana varieties can be dug and divided in late summer, up to 30 days before the first frost of the season.

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