Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I love hostas. I have gone through various phases of hostaddiction from the rather mild forms of never leaving a garden center without checking out their hosta selection and going to hosta conventions to the more obsessive forms of spending hours on ebay searching for new varieties and unloading pots of newly-purchased specimens out of my car after my husband goes to sleep. Yup, I have done all of these.
Some folks say most hostas look alike. They contend if you have a hosta with white or gold margins, white or gold centers, green, yellow and blue foliage you have them all. I disagree. Hostas have many characteristics that make cultivars special. To prove my point, following are five distinctive hostas.
Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ makes the list because of its heavily corrugated, deeply cupped, dark blue foliage. Vase shaped in habit, the plant grows about 2 feet tall and twice as wide. Slugs either don’t bother climbing the stems or the super thick leaves turn them away because mine has never suffered from slug damage. Near-white flowers rise above the foliage in summer.
H. ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ was named Hosta of the Year in 2014 by the American Hosta Growers Association. To win the award, a hosta must be a good garden plant across the country, widely available and cost in the neighborhood of $15 the year of its selection.
Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ may have round, blue foliage, but it couldn’t be more different than H. ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’. As cute as its name, each little leaf is just a couple inches wide. The plant grows about 6 inches tall and forms a perfect little round mound. Lavender flowers bloom on 12-inch stems in summer. H. ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ was named the 2008 Hosta of the Year by the AHGA.
Hosta ‘Embroidery’ is unique because of the way it grows. The leaf margins grow at a different rate than the center of the leaves, causing the edges to pucker. The foliage unfurls in spring with a cream-colored center but fades to all green as the weather warms. The plant grows about 2 feet tall and wide. H. ‘Embroidery’ is difficult to propagate by tissue culture so it is expensive, if you can find it.
Hosta ‘Praying Hands’ was named the American Hosta Growers Association Hosta of the Year in 2011. Its rigidly upright, narrow, curled and inward-folding foliage make this hosta one of a kind. Slugs never mess with the dark green leaves – how could they?
Reportedly, H. ‘Praying Hands’ will naturalize. My plant must have missed that chapter when it was reading the hosta manual because it has stayed in the same tight clump for years.
Hosta ‘Striptease’ is another Hosta of the Year award winner. The AHGA chose it in 2005. It is distinctive because of the colorful pattern in its leaves. Streaks of white appear between chartreuse centers and dark green edges. Plants quickly grow up to 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Light lavender flowers bloom in summer.
These are just five of the hundreds upon hundreds of cultivars available – each special in its own way.
If you have yet to fall in love with hostas, check them out the next time you are at a garden center. Notice the differences they offer in leaf color and shape, foliage texture, mature size and growth habit. A word of warning: you may start sneaking plants from the car after dark!
Garden with me!