Over the years, the hosta has remained a favorite perennial with many gardeners. Also known as heart lily, plantain lily, and funkia, this easy-care plant, grown primarily for its colorful rippled foliage, is an ideal choice for shaded gardens. Some varieties such as plantaginea (‘Old August Lily’) will even grow in full sun.
We associate hostas with Victorian gardens and public parks. Nineteenth-century gardeners appreciated how hostas thrived under difficult growing conditions, including beneath the canopies of shade trees and along well-traveled walkways. Home gardeners and designers are still using hostas for attractive solutions to landscaping problems. They will survive in areas too shady or competitive for other plants. They can be left in place for a dozen years or more without dividing and will even tolerate clay or compacted soils. Available in sizes ranging from 3- to 40-inches high and with leaf colors of blues, yellows, greens, and variegated, hostas will fit almost any planting situation.
As a border or edging plant, the hosta is unsurpassed. Varieties such as ‘August Moon’ (fine yellow color with a crinkled leaf) and ‘Francee’ (green heart-shaped leaves with bright white margins) will shimmer under moonlight or lamp light, making them ideal for paths and entrances. In a wooded lot with various degrees of shade and sun, the hosta’s mottled leaves and small fragrant flowers bring light, color, and aroma to the area.
Hostas are easily divided in spring or fall. If only one spare plant is needed, simply dig it from the edge of an existing clump. To make several divisions, lift the entire clump and try pulling apart the rhizomes by hand, making sure that a large bud or two remains with each division.