Hostas. Love ’em. Hate ’em. As I was walking around my yard, scoping out what is doing well and not doing well in my yard this summer, I realized that my hostas are absolutely stunning at times and yet at other times I want to dig them up and do away with them. Hostas are a staple in landscaping. There are hostas for shade, hostas for sun. There are too many varieties to count. I really can’t imagine my landscaping without them, but when they don’t look good, well….&$@#!
Let’s start with what I love about them.
- They are great for shade gardens. The wide selection of hostas allows you to get them in a variety of green color from chartreuse to blue-green. Solid or variegated. They give even a shade garden lots of interest.
- They are easily transplantable and divide exceptionally well.
- Larger varieties can fill up a lot of vacant space in your garden.
- They come back year after year. Almost indestructible.
- You can even use them in containers.
- A hosta garden can be absolutely gorgeous!
- The look great against dark mulch.
- Great companions with a lot of other plants and flowers.
- They look great between rocks!
And here’s what I DON’T love about them.
- Rabbits love them. Especially when they first start to sprout in the spring. Several years ago I spent an inordinate amount of time planting hostas under two shaded trees areas in my yard because I had visions of a beautiful hosta shade garden. It was a constant battle of spraying them with rabbit repellant to keep the rabbits away. This was a virtual smorgasbord for the rabbits. I gave up. Rabbits won. Rabbits come in gangs, you know?
This is where I had visions of a beautiful hosta shade garden.
And this is what happened. Casualty of rabbits and insects.
- Slugs love them. Some years, slugs have taken my hostas completely over. Hostas with slug holes in the leaves are not attractive.
- If hostas do not have their ideal conditions, they can get ugly. I planted some hostas on the side of my driveway a few years ago and for several years they had their ideal conditions and looked fantastic. Well, as luck would have it, we lost two pear trees earlier this year from storms and these shade hostas lost their shade. Now they get too much sun and the leaves do not look great.
- Even hosta varieties that they say can be in sun, don’t stay looking good throughout the summer. The edges of the leaves turn brown or yellow. They can get ratty looking. I usually just snip those leaves off, but then they can lose their nice shape.
- The flowers that they grow annoy the heck out of me. I cut them off as soon as I see them growing. I do this for two reasons. First, hostas will grow fuller if they are not putting their energy into producing a flower. Second, the flowers they produce do not stay attractive for very long and the pedals drop and stick all over the hosta leaves. Not a good look.
See this flower shoot? This is getting snipped off today.
- While rabbits especially enjoy the newly sprouting leaves, they will also chew on the edges of mature leaves. Munch, Munch, Munch. I guess I am doing my part to support wild life.
I had to throw this picture is because they are in full bloom right now. So pretty.
When I cut off those blooms, I make use of them by using them as a cut flower in a vase. Ever think of that?
So, in the end, even with all of this being said, I guess I will continue to have hostas in my landscaping and continue my love hate relationship with them. BUT, if I add more hostas to my yard, I will be more selective with where I plant them. I will not try hostas in the sun anymore. Done. Book closed. I will continue to support rabbit repellant producers by spraying my hostas with this awful smelling stuff all summer long. I have not tried hostas in containers, but I may try that one day. Having them up off the ground where rabbits and slugs can’t get them, and the ability to move them where conditions are just right, may just be the ticket to happy hostas in the garden.
Where do you stand with hostas??