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Gardening with Hostas

Hostas are a wonderful addition to any shade garden because they are easy to grow, hardy, and offer a variety of colorful leaves throughout the entire growing season. Native to Japan, Korea, and China, hostas were brought to Europe in the late 1700s and to the US in the 19th Century. Over the last 50 years, gardeners have witnessed an explosion of new hosta cultivars in a wide range of sizes and colors produced through hybridization (seedlings) or the discovery of sports (mutations) in gardens, nurseries and tissue culture labs. Generations of gardening enthusiasts have turned to hostas as the “backbone” of their garden and landscape designs.

Here’s why:

  • Hostas tolerate shade.
  • Hostas are low maintenance.
  • Hostas have a three-season presence.
  • Hostas blend beautifully with other perennials, annuals, trees, and shrubs.

Space limitations need not discourage you from gardening with hostas as many are suitable for growing in containers as well. We welcome you to join the Indianapolis Hosta Society and explore the exciting world of hostas.


Basic Requirements for Success

Hosta culture is all about providing the basic requirements for hostas to reach their full potential. While hosta fanatics can spend hours discussing the finer points of tweaking plants to increase size, foliage color, etc., let's focus on the fundamentals to ensure growing success.

  • Hostas grow best if they have a minimum of 6 weeks of dormancy each year. Thus, if you live south of Miami, Florida, you may want to consider different shade plants.
  • Hostas require regular supplies of water. A large hosta will need about 3 gallons of water for its roots each week.
  • Hostas are a shade tolerant plant, but they will not grow where they receive no light. Some hostas will even tolerate full sun if they receive enough water. Some hostas will tolerate deep, deep shade so long as there is some sunlight filtering through the shade above them.
  • Hostas depend upon a healthy root system to produce plant food to support the rest of the plant. Soil that has enough humus to allow the roots to grow and develop is best. If your soil is compacted and fine, you will need to amend it with compost or additives that will loosen it.
  • Hostas prefer a soil with fairly neutral pH. A pH 6 would be ideal.