Hosta plants have been a favorite foliage plant in New England gardens since the early 1800s. Originally from the Orient, they were first brought to Europe in the late 1700s, making their way to America by the early 1800s. Today there are over 2,000 varieties of the hosta plants to choose from. There are also many hosta garden clubs and societies dedicated to growing, educating, sharing, and preserving these garden favorites.
Hosta plants are bulky, leafy, low-growing perennials that come in a range of green hues from deep blue-green to very light colors that are almost milky white in appearance. There’s also a variety of variegated hostas. Regardless of color, all hosta plants sprout a shoot from which delicate flowers resembling tiny elongated bells in white, pink, or lavender emerge. The shoots and flowers appear in mid to late summer.
How to Plant Hostas
Hosta plants should be divided and planted in the early spring or in the late fall before the first frost. Plant in an area with good drainage in hole with a depth of about 12 inches. Fill the area around the hosta with rich soil. Adequate room (about 8-10 inches for a small hosta plant) should be left at the perimeter of the plant to allow for growth as the plant matures. Hostas reach full maturity after about 6 years.
While hostas are known for being a shade-loving plant, there are some varieties that do best with a bit of sunlight exposure. A good rule of thumb to allow variegated or lighter-colored hostas more access to sunlight. The deeper, darker plants require moderate shade. All hosta’s need some shade (at least 3 hours per day) and should never be planted in direct sunlight.
Troubleshooting Hosta Pests
Most hosta plants are not susceptible to disease and are quite forgiving and hardy, although they are a favorite snack of deer and slugs. If deer start nibbling on your hostas, follow my tips to keep deer out of the garden. To keep slugs away from your hostas, sprinkle wood, ash, sand, or crushed eggshells around the soil at the base of the plant. Be sure that you do not saturate the area with wood ash. Another trick to deter slugs is to place a bottle of beer that is ½ full on the side near the plants. The slugs will be attracted to the beer and drown when they enter the bottle.
Once established, hostas are virtually maintenance free, hardy and fast growing. These plants will spread and multiply and may be divided for sharing after a few years of growth.