Hostas are much more than good foliage garden plants; Jean Vernon talks to Mickfield Hostas to learn more.
Hostas are easy to grow. They are hardy perennials, which means they will establish into healthy clumps or cushions in the garden and will survive the British winter. They will grow in a range of environments and prefer a woodland or sheltered location and on hillsides. Hostas are not fussy about the soil type. They prefer water passing through their roots and thrive in soils with good drainage. Hostas do not like extremes of wet or dry. They are perfect perennials for UK gardens
- Hostas species originate from China, Japan and Korea, but modern cultivars are bred all over the world, predominantly in North America.
- Hosta shoots emerge in April and the plants become dormant and die back in October and November depending on the weather. They range in height from just 2in to 6ft tall.
- Hostas are not just foliage plants; they flower too and have flowers ranging from pure white to the deepest purple.
- Some host flowers are very fragrant; these tend to be later flowering varieties.
- Some hostas are edible. Hosta lancifolia types are part of the diet in Korea and used to add a peppery flavour to salads. Hosta are related to asparagus, and can be harvested as shoots and cooled in the same was as asparagus.
What’s eating my hosta? It’s usually snails, which hunt by smell. Garlic, WD40 and coffee grounds deter snails but do not solve the problem. Choose wildlife friendly slug control like Richard Jackson’s Slug & Snail Control, place half a teaspoon inside a glass jar and lay on its side. Place the jar in the coolest, dampest part of the garden. This will keep the pellets dry and active.
Five great hostas
Mickfield Hostas holds the national collection of hostas, which includes over 2000 different varieties. It offers around 1000 different varieties for sale.
Here are five great hostas that were on its Gold Medal winning display at RHS Hampton Court in 2016.
Hosta ‘Halycon’ is a good old variety of hostas but still regarded as one of the best blue varieties. It holds its blue colour all season and also has pretty pale lilac flowers. The textured blue leaves are also fairly resistant to slugs and snails.
Hosta ‘Slim n Trim’ is one of the best miniature hostas. It has a mound of blue green narrow, long leaves and clumps up quickly. It bears pale lavender flowers in late summer and makes a good ground cover plant.
Hosta ‘Praying Hands’ is a stunning hosta with dark green leaves margined with creamy yellow. The leaves are upright and tightly folded and really do look like hands clasped in prayer. It has attractive lavender mauve flowers in late summer and grows to around 18 inches tall.
Hosta ‘Colored Hulk’ is a stunning lime green variety edged with green. Its bright and open habit makes it a good choice for pots and containers. It also has lavender mauve flowers in late summer and grows to around 14-16 inches tall.
Hosta ‘Winter Snow’ is a sport of hosta ‘Sum and Substance’; it can tolerate full sun, but needs moisture at the roots. A real stunner with a green centre and a gold to white edge. It forms a large open mound and grows to around 2ft tall.