I did not always appreciate hostas…
I remember some rather plain green ones that grew in my Mother’s garden when I was a little girl. She always cut off the flower stalks the minute they appeared because “they were ugly”. Frankly, I thought the same thing about the plants. Many years later I had a college friend whose Mother was a fanatical gardener. She introduced me to her wonderful, showy hosta garden. She said they were her favorites. It was full of all sorts of interesting varieties and she could tell me a story about every one. It was the beginning of a love affair for me with these plants. When I bought my home in N.H., I finally had a place to grow them myself. My yard is very shady place with woods in the back so I have a perfect spot for them. I grow several varieties and especially like the multicolored ones. There are so many more I would like to grow!
Here are some fun facts: Hostas are native to Japan, Korea and China. They were first imported and grown in Europe in the late 1700’s. By the mid-1800’s hostas were growing in the United States. Today, there are hundreds of species available to the home gardener as a result of hybridizing and tissue culture propagation. Hostas were originally propagated by dividing crowns, but this is slow process if large numbers are desired. Tissue culture is now the preferred process for commercial growers. When I was visiting NH Hostas & Companion Plants over in South Hampton, they told me about tissue culture which I found very interesting. If you’d like, they will sell you hosta plugs which are how they get them from tissue culture/wholesale growers. The are only 3 to 4 inches tall and thus much cheaper than buying a full grown plant which can cost as much as $60.00 for premium varieties. A little rich for me, especially if the deer and slugs eat it.
A word on pests: Speaking of which, hostas are a notoriously favorite food of deer, snails & slugs. I realized a bit too late this year that the freekin’ slugs were having an food orgy in my backyard. They nearly wrecked a couple of prized plants, so I got me some Sluggo. It seems to work well and it is safe for pets and wildlife, which I’m sure the chipmunks are happy about. The munching stopped soon after I put it out. I highly recommend this product. Most of my hostas are fenced in, so they are safe from the deer I occasionally see out back. It seems the woodland creatures are not the only hosta eaters – in Japan, where they are called urui, they are commonly consumed. I think I’ll just look at mine.