How to grow this popular perennial – hostas

People throw around the term popular without much thought. But hostas—considered America’s most popular hardy perennial—have earned their stripes the good old-fashioned way. They’re reliable, hardy and highly adaptable. But that doesn’t mean they’re boring.

Even with hundreds of varieties to choose from, new cultivars continue to be added each year. Good news for the hosta collectors out there. And the rest of us who may be uninitiated to how entirely easy and good-looking these plants really are.

Sun vs. Shade

Hostas were originally known as plantain lily or funkia and many people grew up hearing that they preferred full shade. The truth is that while hostas do well in shade, they’re actually considered shade-tolerant, meaning most varieties actually flourish with a little sun.

The best sound-bite advice: pick out a shady spot that is protected from full afternoon sun. And check your hosta’s tag for varieties that prefer varying degrees of sun. We’ll cover that a bit later in this article with a list of varieties that are considered sun resistant or types that will actually thrive in part to full sun.

Keep in mind that too much full, direct sun and any variety’s leaves can scorch. Leaf scorching in full sun may be unavoidable during the hottest days of summer, but frequent watering will help to reduce it.


One of the most popular times to plant hostas is in spring, but this hardy perennial can be planted any time during the growing season. When planting during the hottest months, just be sure to give the plant adequate water. And as always, don’t split and transplant your hostas (or any perennial) during the summer.


Like most perennials, hostas like loose, well-drained soil. They also do best when protected from full afternoon sun. For instructions on how to plant and care for your hostas, check out A Guide to Planting & Care.

Other things to keep in mind: space your plants 2 to 4 feet apart to allow room for growth and finish with a fresh layer of mulch to keep the soil moist and discourage competition from weeds.


Did you know that in their natural habitat hostas receive more than 60 inches of rain in a year? They love water!

In most cases, this means your hostas should be getting 1 – 1 ½ inches of water per week during the growing season. This is something that can be easily supplemented with a sprinkler or sprinkler system.

Anything you can do to conserve moisture will help your hostas as well. Because hosta leaves have so much surface area, they lose a lot of moisture through transpiration. Mulch is an excellent way to seal in moisture and regulate soil temperature.


Hostas are virtually pest free, another reason they’re regularly voted most likely to succeed in your yard and garden. If you do happen to find holes in your leaves, slugs are the likely culprits.

The same moisture that encourages healthy hosta growth can also attract slugs. So do wet leaves, so be sure to remove them from around your plants. Fortunately, there are hosta varieties that are more slug-resistant and you can always ask for advice on slug control remedies and products.

Leaves and Flowers

The fascinating thing about hostas is the surprising number of leaf variations. The colors can range from light to deep emerald green, bright yellow to golden and blue to bluish gray and white. Their shapes can be rounded, club-shaped, speared or paddle-like. And the surface of the leaves can be curled, wavy, flat, cupped, ribbed, ruffled, pleated, wrinkled and striped, waffled or pleated with texture and color.

The flowers of the hosta seem like an after-thought compared to the foliage and some of the blooms never open. Many look like lilies, they range in color from purple to white and can be funnel or bell-shaped. A few are fragrant.

Trust us, you won’t miss the flowers. Hosta foliage is gorgeous and long lasting with no deadheading, little to no fertilizing and little care.

Some of Our Favorites

To get you started, we pulled together a list of some of our favorite varieties, but the best way to choose yours is to see them in person. Talk with someone in the garden center about your yard and garden and the varieties best suited to your exposure, companion plants and more.

Common White-flowered Varieties
  • Aphrodite
  • Big Daddy
  • Elegans
  • Frances Williams
  • Great Expectations
  • Hadspen Blue
  • Royal Standard
  • So Sweet
  • Sum and Substance
Common Blue-leaved Varieties
  • Big Daddy
  • Blue Cadet
  • Blue Wedgewood
  • Elegans
  • Frances Williams
  • Hadspen Blue
  • Halcyon
  • Krossa Regal*
Common Yellow-leaved Varieties
  • August Moon
  • Aspen Moon
  • Piedmont Gold
  • Sun Power
  • Fort Knox
  • Sum and Substance
  • Little Aurora
Common Variegated Varieties
  • June
  • Sagae
  • Liberty
  • Paradigm
  • First Frost
  • El Nino
  • Guacamole
  • Regal Splendor
Common Sun-resistant Varieties
  • Albo-marginata
  • Aureo-marginata
  • Francee
  • Honeybells
  • Royal Standard*
Common Slug-resistant Varieties
  • Big Daddy
  • Blue Wedgewood
  • Frances Williams
  • Great Expectations
  • Hadspen Blue
  • Halcyon
  • Krossa Regal
  • Sagae
  • Shade Fanfare
  • Sum and Substance