Hostas are fabulous foliage perennials that only get better with age. The exotic, tropical looking, large, luscious deciduous leaves emerge in mid spring and even after just a year or two they will have formed handsome clumps. In summer these clumps are topped off with stems of bell shaped flowers that are either white or various shades of mauve. The flowers are often perfumed. Whilst the flowers are beautiful it is the foliage which is the star attraction. The leaves can be puckered or smooth, long and narrow, or curvaceous and round, large or small. The foliage colour ranges from grey/blue through to green, yellow, lime or variegated. The strongest statement will be made when one or two complementary varieties are planted en masse. Hostas are shade lovers and are ideal for naturalising under deciduous trees or in woodland gardens. Where at all possible they should be protected from afternoon sun.
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Hostas also love rich moist soil and will do quite nicely on the edge of a stream or pond. If your planting position is too hot and dry the quality of the foliage will be severely compromised but you may find that you will get more flowers. Hostas are very hardy and once planted in a position that suits them they will be relatively undemanding. Unfortunately Hostas are much loved by slugs and snails especially when the new foliage is emerging therefore it is important to guard against these "chompers" with your preferred method of control and/or despatch. In my experience I have found that once the clumps are mature with little space between them, they aren't such an obvious target. Aplying a layer of wood chip or bark also helps as snails don't like crawling across the rough surface.
If you are looking to add a lush tropical look to your garden but need frost hardy plants then Hostas will certainly do the job for you. Hostas also do well in containers as long as they are regularly watered. I have found them invaluable for brightening up the shady cool areas of the house where nothing else will grow. Commonly known as the Plantain Lily (yes they are members of the Lily family) Hostas in my opinion are anything but common and provide the gardener with a top performing perennial for very little effort.