The Complete Guide to Hostas – Part 1

Updated/Fact-Chacked on March 17, 2022 by John

We have decided to create a mini series of articles around popular plants in the UK. First up we have Hostas.

We’ll we answering all your hosta questions in a 3 part series split into general hosta general questions in the article, planting hostas and hosta maintenance – where we will answer all your hostsa questions and help with hosta problems.

Name: Hosta

Other Names: Plantain Lily, Wide Brim, giboshi

Family: Asparagaceae

Hostas are loved worldwide by gardeners, especially here in the UK as they grow well in shade.  Hostas are a hardy herbaceous perennials known for their lovely foliage which produce summer flowers in a variety of different colours. The term ‘herbaceous perennial’ means they have non-woody stems that grow back each year, and the roots stay alive during winter in a dormant state.

Hostas are thought to have originated in China, but are now found worldwide. There 70+ species of hostsa and thousands of different varieties, with over 6100 registered with different exotic names. Here’s a few of our favourites:

‘Frances Williams’ Hosta has blue green foliage

Striptease’ hosta has distinctive gold stripe down the middle of each leaf

‘Deja Blu’ hosta’ leaves have gold edges

Great Expectations’ broad leaves, this hosta needs more sunlight

Tokudama Flavocircinalis’ hosta has large heart-shaped leaves with white flowers in summer

‘Pathfinder’ hosta has lovely shaped leaves and grows quite tall, up to 3 feet.

‘Paradigm’ hosta are another sun loving hosta with changing colours in summer

‘Pandora’s Box’ is a miniature hosta with white and green leaves, it blooms with purple flowers in summer

‘Whirlwind’ hostas have more architectural qualities as they have pointy green leaves with purple flowers in summertime.

‘Silver Threads’ hostas have amazing gold leaves and a purple bloom, works great in pots as they are small

‘Chartreuse Wiggles’ hostas have long leaves and light purple flowers in bloom

In this part 1 of our hosta series we thought we would answer the common question we get asked.  Once you have decided you wish to grow hostas, then move onto our planting and maintenance articles.

How much do hostas cost?

Hostas vary in price dramatically.  You could probably pick up a cheap hosta in a supermarket for £5, whilst specialist hostas range from £12-£20. Check out Sienna Hostas for a great range of more unique looking hosta plants.

What is the rarest Hosta?

There are many rare hostas as people an produce small batches of hybrids from any of the 6000+ varieties, the combinations are endless.  Check out this list from the Hosta society to contact a hosta specialist near you.

Do Hostas attract bees?

Yes, bees are attracted hostas but they are not their favourite.  Hostas do not bloom for very long either. Consider tubulars like foxgloves and honeysuckle. Bees also love lavender, catmint and crocus.

>> Best tall flowering plants for borders

Do Hostas attract hummingbirds?

Yes hummingbirds will be attracted to hostas in various parts of the world, but not in Europe as hummingbirds are not found in the wild here.  If you see something similar in the UK, it is likely to be a hummingbird hawkmoth.

What else do Hostas attract?

Along with attracting all types of bees, flies and other insects to the flowers, hostsa foliage is irresistible to slugs and snails.  They devour the leaves given the opportunity.  See our hostsa maintenance article for help in this area.

Do hostas spread?

Most hostas found in the UK do not spread wildly, so don’t worry about them taking over.  Certain varieties can grow quite large and bushy so double check before you buy your hosta.

How long do hostas live?

According to the RHS, most perennials will last a minimum of 3 years.  Many hosta varieties will last much longer as they are extremely hardy.

My partner has one in her garden that’s been there for 10 years and is still thriving.

Do hostas have deep roots?

No the hosta root system is not huge and just like a standard plant. A depth of 10″  would be fine for planting.

Are hostas roots invasive?

Generally hostas are clump forming and do not have invasive roots, though there are a few varieties that have runners. Double check with your garden centre that their variety is clumping.

Do hostas get bigger each year?

Some hostas will get much bigger each year, though you can buy miniature varieties like:  Abby, Abiqua Trumpet, Allan P Mcconnell, Bashful, Bedazzled, Blue Boy and Blue Mouse Ears.

If you are looking for large and giant hostas, look out for these varieties: American Halo, Big Top, Brother Stefan, Final Victory, Glen Trumph, Hammurabi, Golden Meadows, Lakeside Maverick, Love Song, Mountain Green.

Which Hostas grow the largest?

Large hostas in the UK can reach 30-40″ in height, though in the USA varieties like the Key West Hostsa can reach 80″.

Key west hosta at 80 inches tall
Key West Hosta in USA is 80″ tall

If you are looking to plant large hostas, try the American Halo, Big Top or Cinderella varieties.

How big do hostas get in first year?

This will depend on the hosta variety you have bought, it’s not uncommon for a hosta to double in a size in the first year if maintained properly.

Are hostas poisonous to dogs?

Yes hostas are poisonous to dogs, cats and other small animals. Hosta plants contain saponins that can cause stomach upset, symptoms might include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal bloating.

If you think your pet has eaten a hosta, seek advise from your local vet.

Note: that it is uncommon for dogs to eat hostas, dogs are carnivorous and are generally not fans of plants;  though my Italian greyhound is partial to stealing strawberries off the plant when they become ripe.

When do hostas Bloom?

Hostas bloom between May and September depending where you live/ climate and soil conditions.

Do hostas bloom more than once?

Most hosta will only give you one bloom per summer, but you can buy reblooming hostas in some countries. They do not bloom again from the same scape, but will grow new scapes once cut back and bloom again.  After researching UK hosta specialists, I cannot find any for sale in UK that are sold as ‘rebloomers’.

What is the prettiest hosta?

This will entirely depend on the eye of the beholder. Are we talking prettiest flowers or prettiest foliage? The trick is to find a hosta with foliage you like and lovely coloured flowers that complement the foliage backdrop.

I personally have chosen the ‘Fire and Ice Hosta‘ – the foliage is dramatic and produces lilac trumpet-shaped flowers.

Fire and Ice Hosta for dramatic effect
Fire and Ice hostsa – the prettiest hosta?








Image source: Pixabay

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