The hostas or hostas are on the rise with us. In the following article you will find out why this is the case and why a hosta can really do something good for every garden. And if you are then convinced, you can read up on what needs to be considered when planting, caring for and propagating a host and which varieties are available.

Planting and caring for the hostas

In the vast majority of cases, you are dealing with a Hosta ventricosa when you buy a hosta in stores. Their care is therefore dealt with below (the other species, however, have the same basic needs):

The best location for a Hosta ventricosa or bell-shaped hosta is in partial shade. You should water this well so that the hostess never has to thirst. The soil should be fresh and not too rich in nutrients. Undemanding perennials have fewer problems with poor soil than with over-fertilized areas.

If you are planting several hosta, you should leave enough space between the individual plants; you calculate about three hostas per square meter. If the bell-shaped hostas at least somewhat like their location, they will expand enormously, provided that there is sufficient irrigation.

Hostas feel comfortable as underplanting bushes and trees, but if nothing grows directly above them, even the light is enough for them in a completely shady place. The plants reach heights of between half a meter and one meter. They grow without becoming lignified (herbaceous) and are generally very robust and quite persistent.

The bell funky developed in the middle and south of China, where the temperatures are very similar to ours. It can be brought over the winter with us without any problems and is completely hardy even in colder regions.

Hostas can be planted in the garden or in pots. They can then also be placed in the sun, just not in the blazing midday sun in midsummer. In their homeland, the bell-shaped funkia grows to heights of over 2 km. They are therefore used to some sun intensity. If the bucket is in the sun on the terrace, you have to be very careful not to let the hosta dry out.

In autumn the hostas say goodbye all by themselves: They move in over the winter without any work for the garden owner, who in spring can simply look forward to the shoots that appear absolutely reliable.

The basic care of a hosta is that simple, any special requests of the individual species are listed below.

Propagate hosta

The easy-going Hosta is also pleasantly uncomplicated when it comes to propagation. In a good location, it multiplies all by itself. You can watch how the clumps are getting bigger and bigger, and if you need hostas for a new location, just take a piece off.

The clumps should be separated either in spring or in autumn. Before the leaves are fully ripe or after flowering when they have wilted.

You can also propagate the hosta by seeds. To do this, you can let the seed heads dry out, then remove the seeds and sow them in seed pots. Or you can just wait for your hosta to reproduce by spreading the seed around the area. If you have acquired a hosta hybrid, you would have to reckon with the fact that propagation from seeds would result in a plant that looks completely different from the mother plant, but perhaps that is precisely what is exciting.

The Hosta in action

From their homeland, the hostas are used to growing under bushes, where they have to cope with very poor conditions and very little light. This makes them something very special for the German gardener. Finally a plant that feels comfortable in the shade. And then also really decorative!

Many gardeners have been looking for such plants for a long time in order to finally give garden areas that are disadvantaged by light an attractive design. This is done quickly with the hostas as ornamental leaves. They like to breathe life into every shady and partially shaded area in the garden, including every shady and partially shaded spot on the terrace.

But it would be fundamentally wrong to see the neat hosta only as a “stopgap” for dark places. It can do a lot more. There are now varieties for really every location in the garden, even for sunny places, and in all sizes. That is why the Hosta was voted Perennial of the Year by the Association of German Perennial Gardeners in 2009 – this is why gardening experts have since considered the ornamental leafy perennial to be a climber, even if the complete range of varieties has not yet arrived in the plant departments of DIY stores or garden centers and is reserved for a small group of connoisseurs remains.

Even if you don’t have a garden at all, you can use the hostas to decorate. Multicolored-leaved hosta grow into representative terrace decorations in the tub. Cute dwarf hostas unfold their blaze of color on the balcony. There are few limits to the possible uses for hostas, apart from being spoiled for choice.

Funkia for sustainable gardeners

This can be said because the hostas develop in the garden in a way that, on the contrary to fast-growing, but also fast-moving (and quickly declining) hybrids, shows us once again what the garden is actually about.

A garden should mean development, not always quickly and as little as possible to throw away. This experience offers and a hosta – it is anything but a “turbo-perennial”, but requires patience, which rewards it with longevity, increasing beauty and increasing spread. If you have the patience to wait, you will get “a little more hosta” every year, as long as you could actually inherit a hosta.

Small profile of the hosta

The hosta or hosta are called heart leaf lilies and are a genus of the agave family. They are in turn a subfamily in the asparagus family. This genus Funkie or Hosta was discovered almost simultaneously by the German botanist Heinrich Christian Funck and the Austrian botanist Nicolaus Thomas Host, hence the two botanical names.

Hostas developed primarily in Japan and the surrounding Asian areas. Some species were able to spread to the west and north as far as Korea, China, and Russia. There are around 45 species of hostas, but only a few are cultivated. Here is an overview of the varieties:

Dainty white-bordered hosta (Hosta decorata)

Perennial herbaceous plant that grows to about 50 centimeters high and develops leaves the size of a hand. The leaves are mostly white at the edge. The underside is a little shiny, the flowers appear between July and August. The petite white-bordered funkie spreads over subterranean runners. This Funkia comes from Japan and is only known as a cultivated plant. It is a good ground cover for shady and partially shaded locations.

The only different looking cultivar of the graceful white-bordered hosta is the hosta “Decorata Normalis”, which has completely green leaves and fertile flowers.

Blaublatt-Funkie (Hosta sieboldiana)

She is also from Japan. It reaches heights between 50 and 70 centimeters. The flower stalks are only slightly higher than the leaf rosettes. The upper sides of the leaves are expressive blue-green, the leaves are a good deal larger than those of the white-bordered hosta. The blue-leaf Funkia blooms in light purple from June to July or August. The Blaublatt-Funkie does not develop runners, but only a short rhizome. This makes it the right hosta for partially shaded wooded edges and borders. The blue-leaf Funkia has been cultivated since the beginning of the 19th century and is available in several varieties, e.g. B .:

  • Hosta Sieboldiana “Amplissima”: Dense clumps with large leaves, horizontal flower clusters
  • Blue yellow-tinged Funkia “Frances Williams”: Blue-green leaves, slightly “wrinkled” with an irregular yellow margin
  • Permanent gold funkie “Semperaurea”: ​​yellow-green to dark green leaves and white flowers
  • Large blue-leaf funkie “Elegans”: Fairly round, strongly blue-gray colored leaves with grooves, also known as Hosta “Fortunei” or Hosta Sieboldiana var. Elegans
  • Spotted spoon-leaf funky “Tokudama Aureonebulosa”: In appearance like “Tokudama”, with a yellow spot in the center of the leaves, it grows faster than the spoon-leaf host
  • Hosta Sieboldiana “Hypophylla”: almost round leaves and short flower stalks that do not protrude beyond the leaves
  • Spoon-leaf Funkia “Tokudama”: Heart-shaped to round leaves, leaf edges curved upwards like a spoon
  • Dwarf spoon-leaf hosta “Blue Mouse Ears” Miniature hosta, which has received several awards and was voted Hosta of the Year in 2008

White-bordered hosta or narrow-leaf hosta (Hosta Sieboldii)

A Japanese white-edged host that develops a rhizome and short subterranean runners. It is only 20 to 30 cm high, less often 50 cm, and has broad, thin, lanceolate leaves that are medium green or dark green or yellowish on top with a narrow white border. The flowers are purple with a white border, in Hosta Sieboldii “Alba” they are white throughout, they appear in July and August.

This white-bordered Funkia is a good ground cover that is only bred in a few varieties.

The bell-shaped hosta (Hosta ventricosa)

It only developed in China, in forests and on grassy slopes up to high altitudes. It is the most important species and many varieties are used almost everywhere in the world as an ornamental plant.

The bell-shaped funkia can grow up to a meter high and forms a rhizome, its leaves are heart-shaped and somewhat leathery, almost smooth, very dark green and very shiny on the underside. The bell-shaped funkie gets medium-sized leaves and 20 to 30 purple-blue, bell-shaped flowers per plant in August.

Well-known varieties of the ornamental plant, which is widespread around the world, are:

  • Hosta ventricosa “Aureomaculata”, the leaves of which are spotted yellow, and
  • Hosta ventricosa “Aureomarginata”, the leaves develop with an irregular yellow margin.

Be careful when choosing the variety

The individual species of hostas can show very interesting colored leaves. From yellow to blue-gray to all shades of green, the patterns are also diverse, e.g. B. variegated forms. Therefore it is actually a shame that since around the turn of the millennium, the normally stocked trade has almost always only offered the bell funkie. Even if there are more and more varieties of it. When the host species were still of great importance outside of the specialized trade, the picture was more diverse.

But this variety selection is really impressive: There are now huge and dwarfish small hostas, blue and almost white, green and golden-yellow, with countless patterns and variegations, on the edge or in the center of the leaves. Hostas smell or surprise with red stems, grow overhanging or upright, develop wavy or curled leaf margins, just as your imagination demands.

Breeders around the world are constantly busy bringing new varieties onto the market. More than 4000 varieties are now registered. Countless people join them every year. You will certainly not get bored with the hostas.

Even if you have a passion for collecting, you should look very carefully when you buy Hosta. There are many new Hosta products on offer today that have been “designed” far from traditional horticultural work, sometimes even created in the laboratory from cell cultures and then reproduced and marketed on a large scale. With such hostas, traditional horticultural values ​​also fall by the wayside:

  • Zero recognition
  • no stability of the varietal characteristics
  • no resistance and longevity

When buying Hosta, you should therefore look around at a horticultural company that does not offer every novelty, but rather has a well thought-out number of selected and recommended varieties on offer. Some of the newest varieties will certainly be among them with Hosta lovers.

Hosta are not only very easy to care for and undemanding, but also very exciting perennials, which are rightly finding more and more fans with us. The first varieties are already being traded as collector’s items, if you develop into a hosta specialist in the future, you might even make a career with the ornamental leaf.

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