I am often asked by customers shopping for hostas at the garden center which ones are my favorites. I love them all for many reasons:
- Their lush foliage adds as much color to the shady border as any flowering perennial.
- Their bold leaves contrast beautifully with fine-textured perennials like ferns and astilbes.
- Once established, they are moderately drought tolerant.
- They require little maintenance to keep them happy and healthy.
- Most varieties multiply at a reasonable pace and are easy to divide, providing gardeners with free plants.
There are so many appealing varieties, it is difficult to choose favorites, but if I were forced to pick these would be my top five (today anyway).
Hosta ‘June’ is distinctive and easy to spot in a garden. A sport of H. ‘Halcyon’ (another hosta on my favorites list), it flaunts thick foliage with a dramatic color combination – blue green leaves with gold centers in a site receiving bright morning sun; chartreuse centers in deep shade. Charming mounds grow about a foot tall and up to three feet wide. Small, pale lavender flowers bloom just above the foliage in July and August. Hosta ‘June’ was named Hosta of the Year in 2001 by the American Hosta Growers Association.
Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ grows taller – up to two feet tall and three feet wide – and sports apple green leaves with creamy yellow margins – an outstanding sunny partnership of color to brighten the shade garden. Large, near white flowers on three-foot scapes perfume the garden in summer. Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ was chosen as Hosta of the Year in 1998.
If you think size matters when it comes to hostas, you’ll like my next pick – Hosta ‘Sum & Substance’. Immense and magnificent, it grows at least three feet tall and six feet wide. This giant of the hosta family offers more than just extraordinary size. Enormous, thick leaves turn gold when they are bathed in direct morning sun or remain chartreuse in full shade. Three-foot scapes hold lavender-tinted white flowers in July and August. Hosta ‘Sum & Substance’ has received numerous awards including Hosta of the Year in 2004.
From tall to small, my next selection is Hosta ‘Halcyon’. One of the best blue hostas, it grows up to eighteen inches tall and three feet wide. While the waxy coating of many blue hostas wears away by mid-summer revealing their true green colors, the thick leaves of Hosta ‘Halcyon’ have an ample protective layer that helps it retain its frosty blue color through the summer, especially if it is grown in deep shade. Lavender flowers rise on two-foot scapes in mid-summer.
My last choice may be a bit of a surprise, but I love Hosta ‘Second Wind’. It is an average-sized hosta – just under two feet tall and three feet wide – with less-than-spectacular lavender flowers on 30-inch scapes in July. What makes this hosta special is its ability to make other hostas planted beside it look better. Its shiny, dark green leaves make the gold or chartreuse foliage of neighbors pop and make blue buddies appear even bluer. Hosta ‘Second Wind’ plays the role of peacemaker in a grouping of variegated hostas.
Do you agree with my selections or do you have other favorites? I would love to hear which hostas are your top picks and why. Garden with me!