Perennials Year of

2024: Year of the Hosta

Hosta are the most popular and well-recognized perennial in North America.

Overview and History

Hostas have gained their popularity from fantastic foliage that provides interest throughout the growing season. They are adaptable, tough-as-nails plants capable of surviving in the toughest soils and shadiest locations.

One of the ways Hosta ascended in popularity is they can be easily split and shared. They can be dug up, divided, and replanted at almost any time during the year. A term for this type of plant is a “friendship plant” – perennials that are easy to divide and give a piece to your friend or neighbor.

There is also great variety in the genus, with large variations in color, size, variegation, and texture. Today, there are tens of thousands of registered Hosta varieties, with some collectors and nurseries amassing collections of several hundred or even a few thousand.

Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau

Basic Types of Hostas

Most Hostas on the market today are complex crosses of multiple species. These crosses are best recognized by size and color. Savvy gardeners may recognize species of hosta like sieboldianaH. elegans, or H. montana, but most Hosta varieties on the market are complex hybrids of two or more species.

Hosta leaf variegation terminology. Medio-variegation is variegation in the center of the leaf. Marginal variegation is variegation on the edge of the leaf. Hostas are one of the few plants where it is common to have both.


The American Hosta Society identifies five major color categories:

  • Green
  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Medio-variegated (light center, dark margin)
  • Marginal Variegated (dark center, light margin)


Hostas are also classified into five defined sizes:

  • Mini (less than 6” tall)
  • Small (7-10” tall)
  • Medium (11-18” tall)
  • Large (19-28” tall)
  • Giant (More than 28” tall)
Diamond Lake
Miss America
Empress Wu
Blue Mouse Ears

Popular Hosta Variety/Series

Diamond Lake

This large blue Hosta has a thick waxy coating and excellent slug resistance. It is among the best for holding its blue coloration late into summer.

Miss America

A large variety of multiple shades of green. Medium green margins jet into cream centers with light green streaking. Near white flowers are held high above the foliage on five-foot flowerscapes.

Empress Wu

This giant green variety is among the largest Hostas currently available. Leaves are individually giant to match the size of the plant. Use this variety as a space filler in the landscape.

Blue Mouse Ears

This mini blue variety is one of the best-known mini Hostas. Vigorous despite its small size, this variety is perfect for use along the front of the border. Lavender flowers are proportionate to the size of the plant.

Brother Stefan
Touch of Class
Dancing Queen
Silly String

Brother Stefan

A nicely variegated large hosta known for its crinkled leaf texture. Heavily puckered leaves have apple-green margins and chartreuse centers.

Touch of Class

The first tetraploid elevation of a Hosta, with added vigor compared to diploid varieties. ‘Touch of Class’ impresses with intense blue leaves and chartreuse centers.

Dancing Queen

One of the most popular large gold varieties, emerging yellow from the start in spring.

Silly String

This unique hosta has narrow blue leaves with intensely wavy margins. Pale purple flowers top the plant for a perfect package. Great for containers or the front of the shade garden.

How to Grow Hostas

Hosta are among the easiest perennials to put in your garden. They are durable, long-lived, and generally maintenance-free.

1. The Right Location for Growing Hostas

Hosta can be planted in most shady spaces in the garden.

Placing in the morning sun or dappled shade will usually bring out the most intense foliage colors without causing leaf burn.

Gardeners in southern zones will want to make sure they are placing their hosta in full shade.

Growers in northern zones may find that some hosta, such as ‘Guacamole’, ‘Paradigm’, or ‘Guardian Angel’ are capable of being grown in full sun with adequate moisture.

2. The Correct Soil for Hostas

High soil fertility certainly helps Hosta grow bigger, and faster, but is not ultimately necessary to have beautiful specimens. Plant in fertile soils or compost for the largest, fastest-growing plants.

Hosta can grow in a variety of soils, from loose sand to heavy clay. In sandier soils, plants will need more frequent watering. Poor and sandy soils can be amended with compost or organic matter to increase fertility.

Hosta Blue Mouse Ears by Walters Gardens – National Garden Bureau

3. Hosta Foliage and Flowers

Hosta have traditionally been selected as a foliage plant first, with flowers as an afterthought. Flowers can be trimmed from the plant at any time without harming it.

The blue color on Hostas is actually from a waxy coating called blum. This coating develops as the plant emerges in spring and fades through the summer. Rain will wash the blum off and cause blue hostas to go green faster, as will direct sun exposure which melts the wax off. To keep your hostas blue, plant them in partial shade and avoid overhead watering. This wax coating provides additional protection from burning under the sun.

Gold hostas gain the most intense color when best planted in filtered shade or morning sun. Planting in deep shade will result in more chartreuse or green color, planting in full sun will typically cause leaf scorch.

Some Hosta varieties have been selected for unique, floriferous, or fragrant flowerscapes. A few examples are ‘Silly String’, ‘Royal Standard’, ‘Royal Wedding’, ‘Time in a Bottle’, and ‘Wrinkle in Time’.

Hosta flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

4. Hosta as a Tasty Treat

The primary detractor for Hosta is they tend to be a highly desired food source for deer, particularly when they are emerging in spring.

If deer are an issue in your neighborhood, sitting them near entryways to the house, within a fenced or obstructed enclosure, or behind deer tape may be necessary for them to thrive.

5. Combating Slugs on Your Hostas

Slugs tend to overwinter in hosta foliage. If you have a slug problem, cutting them back in the fall can help reduce slug damage.

Bait for slugs in spring as the foliage is emerging to prevent leaf damage later in the year.

Hostas with thicker or crinkled leaves tend to be more resistant to slug damage

6. Hostas are considered a “Friendship Plant”

Hostas can be easily divided and shared with friends.

Digging them up and dividing them every 5-10 years will also improve the vigor of the main plant.

Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau
Year of the Hosta - National Garden Bureau

Each year, the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization that promotes the joys of gardening, selects a bulb, an annual, an edible plant and a perennial to showcase as part of the Year of program. It’s a great way to discover a plant you’ve never seen before, or to learn a little more about a plant you already grow.

National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization that exists to educate, inspire, and motivate people to increase the use of garden seed, plants and products in homes, gardens, and workplaces by being the marketing arm of the gardening industry. Our members are experts in the field of horticulture and our information comes directly from these sources.

1 comment on “2024: Year of the Hosta

  1. Hostas are the beautiful backbone of the shade garden.

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