The hosta of the year 2016* is… (drumroll please!)… ‘Curly Fries’ and it’s probably the most unusual-looking hosta you’ve ever seen. Its leaves are so narrow it looks more like an ornamental grass than a hosta! In fact, you can barely see where the petiole ends and the leaf blade begins. Plus they are beautifully undulated along the edges and are a bright charteuse yellow in early summer, later paling to near white. If you look carefully, you see that even the petiole is colorful, developing red spots by the end of summer.
‘Curly Fries’ is a mini-hosta, forming a dome only 6 inches (15 cm) high and 16 inches (40 cm) wide. To create more of an impact, therefore, it may be best to grow several together or to place it among other small plants. Or make it a star and grow it in a pot! And although the leaves are small, they are extra tough and leathery (touch one: you’ll be surprised!) and slugs simply avoid them.
The flowers of ‘Curly Fries’ are not its strong point. It forms little lavender bells in mid-summer on a purple stem: nice enough, but nothing near as spectacular as its foliage. Some gardeners simply cut them off, figuring they reduce the ornamental effect of the plant.
‘Curly Fries’ was developed by Bob Solberg of Green Hill Farm, North Carolina, and released in 2008. It is the result of a cross between ‘Pineapple Upsidedown Cake’ and an unknown cultivar.
Easy to Grow
Grow ‘Curly Fries’ like any other hosta, that is, in shade or partial shade. It will tolerate full sun, but even then, prefers some afternoon shade.
It will grow in any well-drained, moderately moist soil, but does better and grows faster in light, organic soils. Like most hostas, it very much appreciates the presence of mulch.
‘Curly Fries’s drought resistance is only moderate: it may require watering the first year to help it settle in. It is very tolerant of urban conditions, including air pollution. And as with most hostas, it is very hardy, to zone 3.
You will discover that the leaves of ‘Curly Fries’ are at their most narrow and undulating when it grows in a pot. In the ground, they become wider and straighter, although still narrower than other hostas. Fortunately, it grows very well in pots and can even be used to decorate a deck or balcony over the summer. Potted specimens need no special winter care except in zone 3 where it is best to bury the pot in the ground over the winter to protect the roots from extreme cold.
Finally, you’ll only be able to only multiply ‘Curly Fries’ by division: it won’t come true to type fromm seed.
Where to Buy It?
Hostas of the year are never totally new introductions. They must have been widely tested before they can win that title. For example, ‘Curly Fries’ has been available since 2008. As a result, many garden centers already stock it. If ever yours doesn’t, here are a few places where you can buy it by catalog.
* The hosta of the year is named annually by the American Hosta Growers Association.