By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor

About Hostas

The Hosta genus consists of approximately 30 to 40 species originally from northeast Asia. Hosta plants are commonly called Plantain Lily or Funkia. Once mistakenly classified in the family of Liliaceae, hosta is now classified in the family of Agavaceae. Grown generally as ground cover, hostas do well in both shade and sun, but generally prefer partial shade. Hostas are one of the most popular perennials for home gardens and there are hundreds of different plants varieties that have been bred to choose from.

Site Preparation

Choose a partially shaded area for best growth and propagation of the hosta plants. Soil should be moist yet well drained. The addition of compost or manure will insure healthy plants.

Special Features

* Hosta leaves can range in size from 6 to 48 inches wide.
* Hosta leaves can be either lance or heart shaped. Leaf color can be green, yellow or green-blue. Some leaves have either white or yellow edges.
* Hostas have trumpet shaped flowers that, while sometimes fragrant, are not very showy.
* Hostas can be grown as a houseplant in a container if desired.

Choosing a Variety

Hostas with yellow leaves do better in full sun, while the green- and blue-leaved hostas do best in partial or full shade. Hosta varieties should be chosen by the application they will serve. Smaller hostas do well as ground cover and walkway borders, while larger hostas can be used as the defining plant of a garden area.


Hostas can be planted either in the spring or fall. If a sufficient number of hosta plants are available, they can be divided and replanted in the late fall to establish themselves for the spring growing season. Mulch can be used around hosta plants to help retain moisture in dry areas.


Hostas require very little care or attention. While resistant to many diseases, a virus known as Hosta Virus X has been infecting some plantings since 2004. The only known remedy for this virus is to pull and replace the plants. Slugs and snails may be a problem in the spring while the leaves are young and tender, and deer are a threat any time of the year.

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