Hosta ‘Curly Fries’. Photo: www.perennialresource.com
Every year the American Hosta Growers Association chooses a hosta of the year. To earn this award, the cultivar must:
- Grow well anywhere in North America;
- Sell at a reasonable price (no more than about $15 US);
- Be distinct and easy to recognize;
- Be widely available commercially.
Obviously, the above criteria mean that the winning hosta is never a new introduction. It must be on the market for at least several years to reach the required distribution, not to mention to have dropped to a “reasonable price”. But the winner is always a different and easily recognizable hosta… and that’s the case for the 2016 winner.
Hosta ‘Curly Fries is certainly distinct. With its extremely narrow leaves, ruffled over their entire length, it is like no other hosta. The rippled leaves comes from its mom, H. ‘Pineapple Upsidedown Cake’ (the father is unknown), but its leaves are much narrower. Moreover, the leaf is almost ribbonlike, since there is barely any distinction between the petiole and leaf blade: you could easily confuse it with an ornamental grass! In addition, the foliage is a beautiful chartreuse color, brightening to yellow as the season advances. Over time, too, the petiole becomes covered with red dots.
It’s a miniature hosta, reaching only about 6 inches (15 cm) high and 14 to 16 inches (35 to 40 cm) in diameter. Its flowers are lavender bells borne on deep purple stems and appear in the middle of summer.
For best color, plant ‘Curly Fries’ in partial shade in a spot where it will receive morning sun. If you place it in deep shade, it will still grow, but won’t take on its bright yellow summer coloration.
Like all hostas, ‘Curly Fries’ tolerates a wide range of soils (rich or poor, clay, sand or loam, relatively dry to moist, acidic, neutral or alkaline, etc.) and is very hardy (to zone 3). In addition, it is slug-resistant, a trait that is rapidly becoming obligatory in new hosta introductions: gardeners are no longer willing to put up with slug damage on their plants.
Essentially no maintenance is required once the plant has settled in, except perhaps for watering during severe droughts. Long-lived, it can remain in the same location, without division, for 40 years and more… but if you want to divide it, it tolerates that as well. Try using it in a container or in a miniature garden: you’ll find it absolutely charming!
In short, in spite of its small size and original appearance, ‘Curly Fries’ is a tough, easy-to-grow hosta designed to impress. Any hosta-lover will certainly want to grow it!