Hosta Gardens

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Midsummer bloomers and easy to care for, hosta gardens are popular with good reason. The variety among these broad-leaves shade lovers so tolerant of dappled sunlight opens the door to design opportunities. Hostas prefer consistently moist soil and good drainage, grow to about 12 to 24 inches, and produce a single bloom ranging in color from white to gold.

Wonderful as both specimen plant and the primary element in a landscape garden, hosta should be planted about 24 to 48 inches apart. Their broad leaves are both variegated and solid. Some have wavy or rippled edges, which add to the distinctiveness of hosta gardens. Hostas mass very well on their own, spreading anywhere from three to four feet, and can serve as a dense woods groundcover.

Hardy plants, hostas do well across most of the United States. Most varieties are rated for zones four through eight--that is, most thrive in temperature ranges that top out at about 85° to 90° Fahrenheit bottom out at as low as about minus 20° Fahrenheit. Among the particularly distinctive variegated hosta are Francis Williams, June, and Patriot. The Variegata leaf has a bold creamy white center, while the Gold Standard's leaf is more subtly yellow.

Ideas for Hosta Gardens

Especially attractive planted with ferns and at the base of trees, hosta gardens also do well when they include certain flowering plants. The elegant astilbe, with its plumed flowers and fern-like foliage, is particularly striking when it rises from a bed of only slightly lower hosta. Lily-of-the-valley with its graceful white blooms is also effective. Shaded retreats often center on hosta and fern groupings.

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