Hosta: Little Plant, Big Variety

Hosta: Little Plant, Big Variety

Add color and interest to your shade garden with hosta varieties. Get tips for using this versatile plant in your yard.
Hosta is a plant that always amazes me. At first glance, it’s easy to generalize this little shade-garden plant as the green-and-white perennial so many folks have planted around the base of the trees in their yard. But dig a little deeper and the hosta has more -- a lot more -- to offer than you might guess at first glance. 

For one thing, there’s an astonishing number of varieties available. Miniature hosta selections may only grow a couple of inches tall and stay 12 inches wide (or less). They’re so small, they can easily get lost in a traditional garden (but are perfect for fairy gardens and container garden troughs). Hosta size moves up the scale to giants that can reach 4 feet tall or more and stretch an astonishing 8 feet wide. 

Then there’s the leaf color. While it’s easy to group most hosta varieties into blue, green, and gold, varieties that have variegated foliage offer a much wider range of options. Look for blue varieties with gold edges, for example, or blue hosta varieties with gold centers. These variations give you the opportunity to do some really interesting hosta designs in your shade garden. For example, you can create a gradient effect by planting a gold variety next to a gold variety with blue edges. Keep going with a gold variety with wide blue centers situated adjacent to a blue variety with gold centers, then next to that, a blue variety with thin gold edges, and finish it with a blue hosta. 

Or, design by creating contrasts with leaf shapes. Some hosta varieties, for example, have wide, almost heart-shaped or rounded leaves. Others are long and thin, seeming almost grassy by comparison. 

And while we tend to focus on hosta for its leaves, don’t forget about the flowers. There are some types that offer large, fragrant flowers that are as showy, if not showier, than the foliage. Flower color ranges from white to lavender blue, and different hosta varieties flower on and off during the summer. 

See a range of hosta varieties in our  Plant Finder!  

Looking for more? Discover more shade-garden perennials to plant with your favorite hosta. 

Written by Justin Hancock