Hostas range in size, color and use. The largest reach the size of small shrubs, up to 4 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The broad, tropical-appearing foliage of large hostas comes in hues of yellow, white, green and blue. Some hostas have variegated leaves, often trimmed in contrasting shades. The tall, upright flowers most commonly bloom in purples and white. Though primarily used for shady locations, the perennial hosta adds interest to almost any landscape.
Most hostas grow in a mound shape, though some have an upright form. They reach maturity in four to eight years. The leaves of large hostas grow up to nearly 2 feet long. Some hostas have smooth leaves, while others have ridges. The leaves of large hostas can range from round to a somewhat pointed heart shape. The flowers attract pollinators, such as bumblebees, with their fragrance and bell-like shape.
Used in landscaping for their foliage, large hosta plants grow well in most conditions. Large hostas add texture and height to the landscape. They work well as foundation plants in shade gardens. Light-colored hostas bring brightness to darker areas under trees. Blue hostas provide contrast against other shade plants, such as bleeding hearts and heucheras.
Hostas grow in most USDA hardiness zones, even tolerating cold winters through zone 3. They become dormant during cold weather and during extreme heat or dry periods. Commercial propagation of hostas usually includes tissue cultures, but they also do well growing from root divisions for the home gardener. Hostas' high disease resistance makes them easy to grow, but slugs may pose a problem.
The largest blue varieties of hostas include Krossa Regal, Sagae, and Blue Angel. Large, blue-green leaves adorn the Krossa Regal. The Sagae won hosta of the year in 2000 and has blue and gold variegated leaves with violet flowers. Blue Angel, one of the largest hostas, has substantial leaves and white flowers. An abundance of green varieties populate the hosta world. The large green group contains Sum and Substance, Aureomarginata and Francee. Sum and Substance grows upright with white flowers. Aureomarginata has green leaves with bright gold variegation. Francee is also variegated, but with white edges. Great Expectations and Guacamole belong to the yellow-leaved group. Both have variegation and white flowers.
Hostas, well known as a shade plant, do require some sunlight. Filtered light provides enough for some, but others need direct light except in the afternoon. Large hostas require supplemental watering, especially to help them establish quicker during the first year after planting. They benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer.