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Easy growing Hostas

For foliage effect, Hosta is one of the best plants available

For foliage effect, Hosta is one of the best plants available

Grown for their luxuriant, decorative foliage, plantain lilies are hardy, herbaceous perennials from the Far East

There is a special value in having plants which have beauty in both flowers and foliage. In this respect, the Hostas or ‘Plantain Lilies’ are well nigh supreme and it is small wonder that in recent years when foliage effect has become more fully appreciated, that they have come in for unprecedented popularity. But for the partiality of some kinds for shade, with soil not lacking in moisture, Hostas have all the qualities one looks for — hardiness and longevity with freedom from trouble as well as beauty and charm.

Like several other sub¬jects, the better the treatment given to Hostas, so far as food and drink are concerned, the better the results will be, but many will give good value even if this aspect is somewhat neglected. They have roots that go a long way down in search of moisture and nutri¬ment, and most of them can stand competition without themselves being aggressive. Some have a wide leaf spread and often I have planted a group of several plants 50cm to 60cm apart only to have to thin them out after 3 4 years of growth.

Hostas are propagated by division of the clumps in early spring. As with large clumps of Hemero¬callis, it is possible to divide them with a sharp spade, but the back to back method with forks will force it asunder with less damage to the fleshy crowns from which growth comes. All Hostas die back completely in winter, and leaves unfurl and enlarge in perfect for¬mation ready for the flower spikes which appear from late November onwards.

Those with variegated leaves are best in shade and placed away from strong winds as well as strong sun. H. ‘Thomas Hogg’, is one of the best, and it has laven¬der mauve flowers on 75cm stems, not very different from the wavy edged H. crispula, which is rather scarce. H. sieboldiana elegans has huge leaves, and of glaucous blue green and a spread of about 1m where well established, with almost 1m spikes of pale lilac white. Both leaves and flowers are suitable for floral decoration.

In future posts we will profile some of the very many varieties of Hostas.