Hostas for Shade

    • Dig and divide crowded spring-flowering bulbs and tubers including daffodils, scillas, muscari, and bearded iris.
    • Take care of your roses: feed, water, weed, mulch and remove faded blooms regularly. Spray if necessary at first sign of insect or disease problems.
    • After the June crop of raspberries is finished, remove canes that produced fruit leaving new green canes, which can then be trained on trellises.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding with a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than in nitrogen.
    • Dig gently to harvest potatoes, a few plants at a time, after foliage yellows and dries up.

Hostas for Shade

Hostas are carefree plants that provide beauty and colorful leaves for the shade garden. Their lush foliage creates a restful and inviting scene when planted under a canopy of trees. Add a bench for sitting and you will have a tranquil place to relax at the end of the day.

Hostas have dramatic leaves and attractive flowers. Their broad blue, green, gold or variegated leaves are typically heart shaped, shiny and distinctly veined. Variegation can be white, cream, or yellow and can occur on the edges of the leaves, in the centers, or streaked throughout the leaf. They will grow in bright or dappled shade, but must be protected from hot summer sun.

The yellow or gold-leaved hostas need some sun to develop their brightest coloring, because in full shade they become chartreuse. This includes varieties like ‘Guacamole,’ which has huge, apple green leaves with darker green margins. Blue varieties develop their best color in full shade. ‘Bressingham Blue’ is one of the best blue-green hostas.

‘Patriot’ has deep green leaves with white variegation on the edge. It grows very quickly and easily in partial shade and has good sun tolerance. ‘Sum and Substance’ has very large, deeply veined, rounded leaves, varying in color from light green, chartreuse, to gold. It grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Clusters of lily-like flowers, which are often fragrant, are borne on flower stalks that rise above the foliage from July to October. These give them the common name, plantain lily. Most flowers are white or light lavender, but some varieties have deeper lilac flowers. Though the flowers last for several weeks and add an delicate highlight, the leaves of hostas are their true appeal.

Hostas are very hardy and prefer a rich, moist soil that is not soggy. They need regular watering throughout the summer and, if growing in the shade of large trees, may need additional waterings to help them compete with the tree roots. When hostas get too much sun or not enough water, the leaf edges become papery and brown.

Slugs and snails love hostas, so you should bait around them once a month. They go dormant in the winter, dying back almost to nothing. Fresh new leaves grow from the roots in early spring. Hostas need little maintenance except to cut out the old flower stalks and perform routine winter clean up.

Hostas can be planted with coral bells, bleeding hearts, astilbe, hardy geraniums and Japanese anemones for a variety of contrasting foliage and flowers. They also do well among ferns and Japanese maples in woodland settings.

Hostas are hardy, long-lived perennials. With their amazing leaf patterns and showy flowers, they add color, interest and a lush, tropical effect to the shade garden.

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