Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Collectable Hostas

This is Bernie's garden in Belwood, Ontario. He has hosta scattered throughout the garden, but they steal the show in a shady nook near his backyard shed. 

In beds on either side of the path to the little grey shed, Bernie has done a really terrific job of mixing a color, texture and shape. Let's take a look:

Hosta 'Praying Hands'

Once you get hooked on collecting hosta, they're hard to resist. Today's post looks at some of the latest and greatest varieties of hosta available this spring.

With a really great name, this hosta has been honoured with the title 'Hosta of the Year'. What makes it a standout? As the name suggests, it's the curly foliage.

Hosta 'Curly Fries' has narrow ruffled leaves that emerge a chartreuse color and turn golden. This is a miniature sized hosta that makes a nice rounded mound. Lavender flowers are held on deep purple scapes. Part-shade (morning sun) for best color. Height: 10-15 cm (4-6 inches), Spread: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

More Miniature Hostas:

Miniature hostas are so gosh-darned adorable! Beside bigger neighbours, they offer a nice contrast in scale. Here is a selection of the minis to tempt you:

'Cheating Heart' is a sun tolerant mini with nice color and a rippled margin. In sun, the leaves will be a deep gold, and in part shade, the color will be more of a chartreuse. It flowers in early summer with light purple flowers. Height: 20 cm (8 inches), Spread: 50 cm (20 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Dragon Tails' (on the left) has narrow lance-shaped yellow leaves and lavender flowers. Full to part- shade. Height: 10-15 cm ( 4-6 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Alakazaam' (on the right) forms an arching mound of narrow tapered leaves with ruffled yellow margins that brighten to creamy-white in the summer. It's flowers are pale lavender. Full to part-shade. 10-15 cm ( 4-6 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Little Treasure' has leaves with a wide blue margin and a creamy-white centre. This hosta has lavender flowers in June to July. Height: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USAD zones: 3-9.

'Cherry Tomato' (on the left) has lance-shaped leaves with a creamy-white centre. The flowers are deep purple. Full to part-shade. Height: 8-10 cm (4-6inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Bachelor Party' (on the right) has twisted green leaves with creamy-white margins. This hosta forms an upright mound with purple flowers. Full to part shade. Height: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches), Spread: 80 cm (32 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Church Mouse' has blue-green foliage that is shaped like a mouse ear. Church Mouse has lavender flowers in early summer. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Hush Puppies' (on the left) has twisted leaves with a cream margin. The flowers are lavender. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 20-30 cm (8-12 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9

'Cameo' (on the right) has tiny green leaves edged with creamy-white. It blooms in early summer with lavender flowers. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 15-20 cm (6-8 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

Carolyn of Carolyn's Shade Gardens (they are a nursery that does mail order as well) has done a great post on using mini hosta as a groundcover. Check out her post here.

Hostas with Red Petioles

Beyond foliage, hosta can offer color in their petioles (the transition between the stem and leaf blade). Here are a few of the varieties with this feature:

The leaves of 'Fire Island' emerge a brilliant yellow color and turn chartreuse. The red petioles keep their color all season. Fire Island has lavender flowers mid-summer. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 25-35 cm ( 10-14 inches), Spread: 45-75 cm (18-30 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Island Breeze' (on the left) has vibrant yellow centred leaves that turn chartreuse-green with dark green margins as they mature. A key feature are the petioles, which are bright red. The lavender flowers appear in late summer. Height: 30-40 cm (12-16 inches), Spread: 45-50 cm ( 18-20 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Designer Genes' (on the right) has brilliant yellow leaves that emerge from deep red shoots. The showy red petioles turn chartreuse green in summer. It blooms later than many hosta (August to October) with flowers that are purple. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 45-50 cm, (18-20 inches), Spread: 25-35 cm (10-14 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.


A quick reminder not to forget to consider color when choosing a hosta:

'American Hero' (seen on the left) has really striking dark grey-green leaves with a cream streak down the centre. This hosta forms a very dense clump and has lavender flowers in summer. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches), Spread: 60-65 cm (24-26 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Orange Marmalade' (seen on the right) has leaves that emerge green and develop a yellow centre with a hint of orange. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches), Spread: 75-85 cm ( 29-33 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

Curvaceous Hosta:

It seems only fitting to begin this section of the listing with a hosta named after a woman famous for her curves.

Hosta 'Marilyn Munroe' has bluish-green, rounded leaves with a lovely ruffled edge. This is a large hosta that flowers very late in the gardening season with lavender flowers. Height: 40-45 cm ( 16-18 inches), Spread: 100-110 cm ( 39-43 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

'Joy Ride' not only has great curves, it also has foliage with a wonderful powdery, blue-green color. Light lavender flowers appear mid-summer. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches), Spread: 90 cm ( 35 inches). USDA zones: 3-9.

The Really Big Hosta Everybody seems to be Talking About:

'Empress Wu' is a very large hosta whose thick, leathery foliage is pretty slug resistant. The grey-green leaves have dark green veining and can be as much as 45 cm or 18 inches wide and long! This hosta has violet flowers in summer. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 90-120 cm (35-47 inches), Spread: 150-180 cm (59-70 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.

My plant buying dollars are always stretched, but I try to invest in at least one new hosta each year. 

This spring it was Hosta 'Joy Ride' (seen in the Curvaceous listings) that came home with me. I just couldn't pass up those powdery, grey-green leaves!

Bookmark this post with a PIN.


  1. Love those hosta photos. Is the blue and yellow hosta in a couple of the shots 'First Frost'? I have a lot of these hostas but my favorite of the ones I don't have is 'American Hero'---great unusual color. If anyone wants to buy minis, Carolyn's Shade Gardens has a mail order catalogue:

    1. I'd have to ask Bernie if it is 'First Frost', so I'll have to get back to you Carolyn. Yes, 'American Hero' has a really neat dark green.

    2. Bernie has emailed me to let me know that the hosta in question is indeed 'First Frost'.

  2. I had no idea there were so many kinds of hosta. My house came with 2 kinds(20 years ago) and a friend gave me 2 more recently. My favorite is one of my originals, the only one that has white flowers. Very interesting, thank you.

  3. I hadn't seen the tiny ones before - gorgeous!! Thanks for the heads up :)

  4. Great hosta pictures and I love seeing more minis as they are great to tuck in shady nooks. Jennifer, can you tell me the name of the hosta that is in the bottom right corner of a couple of pictures of Bernie's garden. One photo is under the hosta "Praying Hands" Having a mostly shady yard, hostas are invaluable.

    1. I have emailed Bernie and will try to see if I can get an answer for you Diane.

    2. The hosta is called 'First Frost' Diane.

  5. As we work at planning and planting a new garden I want to make room for a row of hostas near the edge of the property - much like on either side of the path in the first photo. This post is going to be a reference!

  6. Collecting hostas was a passion of mine when all I had was a shade I have many throughout the garden, and I adore each one...especially the mini hostas.

  7. So many tempting varieties! I have one tiny hosta that a friend gave me. I love it but don't know the name.

  8. Where can I purchase the Fire Island? I live in Crossville, Tennessee, USA.

    1. You could always try to find it at a local nursery (perhaps call to avoid disappointment) or I would suggest you Google the name 'Fire Island hosta' to find a mail order supplier. I noticed Hostas Direct, which was the top listed link, had it available and there were a number of other retailers listed as well. Carloyn's Shade Gardens (see link on the first comment) has a wonderful array of hostas, although I didn't see this one on her list.

  9. I to have a number of hostes,would love to add to my collection.Please tell me where to find any of the unusual minis.

    1. Hi Carolyn, Try this nursery called Carolyn's Shade Gardens. They sell mini hostas at the nursery and by mail order:

  10. Oh my goodness, so many to choose from!
    I have never seen the curly variety, or the miniatures.
    Both are so wonderfully unusual.

  11. A very nice garden with my favorite plants - hostas.
    Greetings from Germany

  12. The Little treasure is my all time favorite.

  13. What do you do to keep deer from eating your hostas?

    1. The best way to deal with the problem is to make your hosta taste terrible. You can do this with a commercial spray like Liquid Fence for Deer and Rabbits. The only downside of these types of sprays is that they may require reapplication after it rains.

  14. I live in the UK how can I keep slugs and snails from destroying my Hostas>

    1. There are numerous methods you can try. You can set beer traps (the slugs drown in the beer) or you can use circles of copper wire. A homemade garlic spray is also supposed to work, but I haven't used this method. Crushed eggshells and coffee grounds are often recommended, but less effective. The grossest, but one of the best methods is to go out at night with a flashlight and hand pick them off your hosta and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.


I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.