The documented history of hosta dates from the late 1600's when botanists from the Dutch East Indies Company began to collect them. In recent years, interest in hosta has risen to the point that it competes annually with daylilies as one of the most desired and valuable garden perennials.
Hostas range in size from 2 inch dwarf size to extra large leaved varieties exceeding several feet in dimension with individual leaves 18 inches or greater across. Scapes carrying flowers range from inches to in excess of six feet high. Colors range from very dark blue to blue-gray to shades of yellow, chartreuse, cream, and white. Margins, stripes and streaking add to the various leaf textures from smooth and glossy to highly puckered, and create great garden versatility. Recent hybridizing has brought several dozen hostas to market with petioles of varying red and burgundy and leaves with minor red infiltrating towards the mid rib area of some leaves.
Adjectives used to describe different hosta leaves give the new gardener an idea of the varieties which exist: leathery, puckered, oval, irregularly margined, thick, cupped, abruptly tipped, heart shaped, crinkled, highly corrugated, thickly veined, ruffled.....and the list goes on.
Here at Vermont Flower Farm we have always grown hostas in our gardens. As the horticulture industry began to promote them more and more, our interest grew and we began to study them. We knew they grew well in shady Vermont and when we learned of the thousands of registered varieties, we decided it was time to make them more available to our gardening friends. We never looked back from then.
Architecturally exciting, hostas are great to integrate with other shade tolerant plants in garden borders, along pathways and near wood lines. These plants have lots of possibilities in combination with other perennials. They certainly are not those "dull, leafy green things" some people used to make them out to be. The darker ones fare much better with more shade while the golds, yellows, lighter colors and variegated leaves can be planted into the borders in varying degrees of additional sunlight. Some can actually handle warmer temperatures and more sunlight although some amount of trial is necessary from garden to garden finding the best placement.
Add hostas to ligularias, Solomon's Seal, pulmonarias, tiarellas, bleeding heart, heucheras and heucherellas, hellebores, variegated iris, epimediums and any of the cimicifugas (actaeas), especially the dark leaved ones, for a very special woodland or northern exposure garden. Toss in some dark blue or mixed clematis, or similar climbers for vertical "notice" and you will have a new and exciting dimension to your gardening experience. The praise you will receive for your efforts will convince you that hostas belong!