Intro: Hosta plants are grown for their luxurious and compact foliage, and for their delicate but scentless flowers that form on top of tall stems. The hosta’s lilylike flowers bloom in summer and can be white or purple. Some hosta varieties can have up to 75 blooms on each flower scape. Hosta’s leaves grow in a large round mound and are yellow or green, often variegated with gold or white.
These wonderful container plants do best in cooler areas and need a period of cold weather so they can go into dormancy (during which the hostas will lose their leaves). For balcony gardeners in warmer areas, such as Florida and the Southwest, be careful to find a hosta variety that tolerates heat in the garden. Hostas also vary widely in size. Research the mature size of the hosta you would like to grow before purchasing. Some varieties will grow too large for your container garden.
Scientific Name: Hosta spp.
Plant Type: Perennial plant
Light: Hosta plants do best in shade, but will not thrive in deep shade. A balcony garden with morning sun and afternoon shade is best.
Water: Water the hosta plant well, and keep the potting soil consistently moist. Do not let hosta flower dry out, but do not let it sit in soggy water.
Zone: To Zone 8. More heat-tolerant varieties of hostas are available.
Temperature: Hostas need at least a month-long dormancy period during which the temperature is below 43 degrees. Hosta plants in warmer areas will not thrive, unless a heat-tolerant variety (such as Hosta clausa, Hosta gracillima, Hosta nakaiana, Hosta ventusa, etc.) is chosen.
Fertilizer: Starting in the spring, fertilize with a liquid fertilizer weekly. Stop fertilizing when the weather gets hot. You may also want to mix a slow-release fertilizer in with the potting soil in the spring.
Pests and Diseases: Foliar nematodes, snails and slugs may be a problem with your hosta plants. Hosta Virus X may also be a problem. Even if a hosta shows no signs of infection with Hosta Virus X, destroy it anyway, as it is most likely infected. Symptoms of Hosta Virus X include yellow dots on the leaves, and irregular mottling of the foliage. But most likely, your hostas will be healthy, free of most insect pests and free of disease.
Propagation: Use division to propagate your hostas in the spring. Keep newly divided plants watered well. Seeds will most likely develop into a different-looking plant than the parent plant, so do not grow hostas from seed.
Misc. Info: Hosta plants are edible and commonly eaten in Japan. The smallest hosta is Hosta ‘Baby Bunting,’ which only reaches several inches across (this variety is great for small plant containers). The largest hosta varieties grow to 8 feet wide!