University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Spring, Summer News Article 


Contact: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Have you heard of the hosta? It is a cold-hardy shade plant that is well suited for northern New England's cold climatic conditions. It is grown throughout the United States for its rich, luxuriant foliage. It is often known as plantain lily or funka.

This perennial is the perfect landscape plant. It fits in well in established beds and can be used with other woody and herbaceous shade-loving plants in a landscape bed.

Smaller varieties of hostas are useful for borders, edging, ground cover, or to "tie" a design together. The larger varieties are effective as cover for unsightly foundations or outdoor airconditioning units. They can be used at the base of trees, near water, or around the patio, or to define walkways.

Hostas are easy to grow and require minimal care. Although some varieties thrive in full sun, most do best in partial or filtered shade. They prefer slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter with medium fertility.

This foliage plant is virtually disease- and pest-free. Slugs are attracted to some varieties but can be controlled through proper use of slug bait or home remedies such as salting their tails or baiting them with saucers of stale beer.

Hostas come in a wide range of colors and forms. The leaves can vary from yellow to dark green or frosty blue; a combination of these colors in varying shades of the same color; or any of these colors bordered in white, yellow, or green. The shape, size, and appearance of the leaf depend on the variety.

Hostas can be divided and transplanted from spring until fall. When transplanted during the hot summer, be sure to water well. Hostas do not like to stand in water but do respond well to moisture. Plant them so that the soil just covers the buds or crown of the plant.

"Gold Edger" and "Gold Drop" are two popular, sun-tolerant varieties recommended for borders and edgings. For mass planting try "August Moon," "Honeybells," or "Royal Standard." "Silver Crown" and "Valentine Lace" are suitable for any landscape situation. Ask your nurseryman for additional advice on selection and care of hostas.

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