Hostas

Hosta seedlings pop up in the garden frequently, but rarely in the places where you’d like them. They often grow in the gaps between stones in the paths, or an inch from the edge so that they must be dug and transplanted, or discarded. I don’t mind if hostas grow over the paths, but it drives my wife batty, so when she squawks too loudly, I move them.

One large leafed blue-green seedling (above) has established itself between stones on a small island in one of the garden’s ponds so that it now covers a waterfall that is heard, but not seen except when the hosta is dormant. I don’t think this bothers my wife, so there it will stay.

The seedlings often look nothing like the nearby hostas that are likely to be the parent plants, and of course this is why hostas are propagated by root divisions or by tissue culture. Most of the seedlings in my garden are blue-green, or less blue and more green, but one (above) that sprouted in the rear garden has narrow, elongated leaves that emerge a ghastly shade of yellow, and fade in the early summer heat. Each spring I figure that the time has come to dig it out, but there it is, and I suppose it’s likely to remain.

At one time there were more than a hundred hosta varieties in the garden, though I don’t recall ever actually taking an inventory, so this number could be the work of my over active imagination. In any case, deer have assured that there are many fewer today. They snuck up on me, nibbling a few here and there, and in most instances never devouring an entire plant, so that a few faded away one year, and a handful the next. 

Today, there are fewer hostas, but how many I don’t know, except that there are nearly enough. Now, I spray a deer repellent at the start of each month beginning in May, and the only time that there’s any damage is when I miss spraying one, or the deer will occasionally find a seedling that pops up in the woods. The repellent has become so dependable that I’ll be planting a few more hostas this spring.

There are great mounding hostas in the garden with leaves that are eighteen inches across, and diminutive types only a few inches tall. Through the years I’ve found plenty of room for both, but now that the garden is more mature the smaller varieties are more interesting.

Most of the hostas have been accumulated by purchase through garden centers, where I can touch and feel them, and pick heavier plants. Long ago, a few hard-to-find ones were mail ordered, and a few were pilfered as root divisions from friends’ gardens. I’ve paid more than ten dollars only a few times, knowing that today’s twenty five dollar hosta will be fifteen next year, and possibly eight the following. Today, I can’t tell you which ones were costly or cheap, and I’ve forgotten the names of more than I can remember.

Most of the garden’s hostas are planted in varying degrees of shade, though there are a few that do just fine with most of a day’s sun. They are not picky at all about soil, with many planted in a dry, shady part of the garden where the heavy clay is filled with greedy roots of maples and poplars. There is no doubt that hostas prefer a deeper and damper soil, but they grow only slightly less robust in these difficult conditions.

A few hostas are damaged by slugs, though they inflict only cosmetic damage, and I’m not bothered enough to try to protect them. Summer hail storms can occasionally be a problem, and this damage is often too late in the season to allow new growth to cover the tattered leaves. If you’re willing to spray your hostas with a repellent then deer won’t be a problem, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a handful (or fifty) in your garden.

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3 thoughts on “Hostas

  1. Hostas are such a joy to collect, so many varieties and they’re easy to grow and multiply through divisions. Luckily I don’t have a deer problem, but rabbits were a big issue until I started to use Liquid Fence. It smells awful, so I let my husband do the monthly spray and that does the trick.

  2. I get so many ideas for my garden by reading your blog. It would be helpful for me if you listed the names of the plants (hostas). The photos are great. Can’t wait to get out to your store and pick up a few hostas for my garden. Thank you

    • It would be helpful if I knew the names of the hostas. I’ve planted so many through the years that I’ve forgotten more than I know. Many of the hostas are sturdy basics like Francee, Francis Williams, Krossa Regal, Halcyon, Elegans, and Sum And Substance. Some of the other varieties (that I’ve forgotten) have reverted, so there’s a real mishmash and I’m clueless to be of further assistance in sorting them out. In the end I think that choosing hostas comes down to first, selecting a plant of the appropriate size, second, choosing the color or variegation that you prefer, and third, making a decision considering price. Unless you are a collector then there are usually moderately priced options for every possible color, variegation, leaf type and size.

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