Hostas Online

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The boon to shopping for flowering and foliage plants online is the same as it is for virtually anything else--namely, instant and convenient product comparisons. If you're looking for exotic seeds, for example, you'll find a full array of Asian vegetables, medieval herbs, and antique English garden flowers, just to name a few. Hostas, those marvelous Asian shade lovers to which I'm close to addicted and that rose from relative obscurity in the 1970s, are no exception. There are about 40 species and as many as 4,000 cultivars, many of which come and go. Let's look at several.

Hostas Online and "Ingarden"

Among the solid green hostas is H. plantaginea, an exceedingly heat- and light-tolerant species from China. Hardy in the United States from USDA zones three through nine, it grows to about 20 inches high and spreads to about 24 inches. Its rather deeply ridged leaves are a shiny medium to dark green and typically wide. The six-inch white flowers that bloom in late summer and open in late afternoon are especially lovely and fragrant.

The grandfather of all blue hostas is H. sieboldiana 'Elegans'--which originated in Japan. Its almost round leaves are deeply grooved but not especially shiny. Thirty inches tall and five feet wide at maturity, it is hardy in USDA zones three through eight. Its white spring flowers are tinged in lavender and sit only just above the foliage. A dramatic specimen plant, Elegans can take part sun to light shade.

A lovely green and gold hybrid, 'Holy Mole' is a vigorous hosta that grows to 24 inches tall and spreads to nearly 48 inches. Its massive heart-shaped leaves are bordered in a dark green that gives way to a swirl of cream and chartreuse. Holy Mole blooms in late summer, sporting 30-inch spikes of white flowers that, like H. plantaginea, emit a lovely fragrance.

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