(Species: Hosta - Family: Hostaceae)
Hosta and its origins
Interestingly, Hostas are also known as the plantain lily but the clusters of lily-like white or lavender flowers they produce in midsummer are mere introduction to the main attraction: the foliage.
They are native to Northeast Asia and were discovered by the Austrian botanist Nicolaus Thomas Host, and first appeared in Western Europe in the late 1700s.
Seasonality: Hosta in bloom
Hostas prove that foliage can be as fascinating as flowers, and certainly have as much impact. You can choose from 'gold' leaves, white-edged variegated leaves, gold-splashed green leaves, or those with a distinctly glaucous blue-grey tone.
Some leaves look almost quilted, with neat tramlines of 'stitching'. They can range from a tiny few centimetres high or grow to expansive clumps 2 metres wide.
How to plant: Hosta
Hostas are invaluable garden plants because they make great groundcover and are happiest growing in shade; they must be kept out of the hot midday sun. They also make ideal waterside plants.
Hostas thrive in humus-rich soil and a generous mulch of leafmould every autumn. For the lushest foliage, plants should be kept moist, and given a foliar feed through the growing season, which is in summer.
The big problem with a Hosta is keeping it free from slugs and snails to prevent them destroying the leaves. If slugs and snails are a problem in the garden, be prepared, as they will instantly choose Hostas over other plants. A good supply of slug pellets can be useful.
If you prefer to grow the plant in containers – making it easier to monitor them - then a line of Vaseline or a band of copper tape around the rim of the container should prove a deterrent. A mulch of sharp grit should help protect the Hosta too.
Propagation of Hosta
Healthy Hostas will form clumps over time, and these can be divided; early spring is the best time, but ideally, new plants should be left for about five years before disturbing them.
Use a garden fork to lever up the plant, then split the clump with two forks back to back, pulling gently but firmly apart. Replant each Hosta clump, apply a slow-release fertiliser and water in well