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Ten Top Hostas
by Leonard Perry
by Leonard Perry


In extension I serve as an advisor and consultant to the greenhouse and nursery industry, primarily in Vermont but throughout the region and beyond as well.

I give presentations on my research to the industry, and to home groups. In Research, my focus is "herbaceous perennial production systems".

His website is at  Leonards zone of gardening: home with my trials, generally USDA 4a. Campus in Burlington is 5.

February 27, 2005

With thousands of hostas (funkia, plantain lily) to choose from, most specialist nurseries having hundreds, how do you choose ones for your garden? The hostas of the year, from the American Hosta Society, are a good place to start. They have proven excellent in all regions of the country, are popular, and are less expensive.

'Fragrant Bouquet' was bred in 1982, and was hosta of the year in 1998. It grows 18 inches high and 36 inches wide, with leaves 8 inches wide and 6 inches long. The apple green leaves are wavy, with wide and irregular light yellow margins. As the name indicates, its flowers are fragrant. There are many flowers, and unlike most hostas with somewhat bell-shaped flowers, these are flat. This hosta is good for both sun and heat.

'Guacamole' was bred in 1994, and was hosta of the year in 2002. It reaches two feet high and four feet wide, with leaves about 11 inches long and 8 inches wide. The shiny leaves are a reverse of 'Fragrant Bouquet' with irregular green margins and somewhat gold centers. The very fragrant and large near-white flowers bloom in mid-summer.

'June' was bred in 1991 and won hosta of the year in 2001. It gets about 15 inches high and 30 inches wide, with leaves about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. It is a gold-centered sport of 'Halcyon'. The dark bluish leaves have shades of yellow and yellow-green. The dark green margins are irregular and vary, making each leaf unique. This hosta has pale lavender flowers, and is slug resistant.

'Patriot' also was bred in 1991, and won hosta of the year in 1997. It grows about two feet tall and three feet wide, with leaves about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. It is a sport of 'Francee', with medium green leaves and wide creamy yellow to white margins. It is one of the most popular of the white-margined hostas, has lavender flowers, and is sun tolerant.

'Paul's Glory' was bred in 1987, and was hosta of the year in 1999. It is wide, growing about two feet high and about 5 feet wide. Leaves are large, about 10 inches long and 7 inches wide, and are moderately ridged (corrugated). The blue to dark green margins are about one-half inch wide. The leaves emerge almost green in spring, with centers changing to chartreuse then creamy white or even gold as summer progresses. Pale lavender flowers bloom in mid-summer.

'Regal Splendor' also was bred in 1987, yet won hosta of the year in 2003. It is large, growing about 30 inches high and 40 inches wide. Leaves are large too, being about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. It is a gold-margined sport of 'Krossa Regal', with leaves blue green. It is sun tolerant, and the lavender flowers are held higher than most hostas on five foot flower stalks (scapes).

'Sagae' was bred in 1985, and was selected hosta of the year in 2000. Some consider it one of the best large hostas, reaching about three feet high and five to six feet across. Give this one plenty of space keeping in mind that, like most large hostas, it takes four or five years to mature. The leaves too are huge, being about 14 inches long and 10 inches wide, thick, upright, and with a textured surface. The dark bluish-green leaves have gold margins, turning creamy in mid-summer with high light. It has lavender flowers.

'So Sweet' was bred in 1986, being hosta of the year ten years later in 1996. It reaches about 20 inches tall, about 36 inches wide. The shiny, medium green leaves are about 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. Leaves have somewhat regular, creamy yellow to white margins. The white flowers are fragrant, hence the name.

'Striptease' was bred in 1991, and is the hosta winner for 2005. This sport of 'Gold Standard' reaches 20 inches tall and 36 inches wide. The medium to dark green leaves are about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide, with wide two-inch gold centers. There may be streaks of white between the gold and the green. This blooms with lavender flowers.

We end with the one often considered the most popular hosta, 'Sum and Substance'. It too is large, reaching about three feet high and five feet wide. Leaves are quite large, reaching about 20 inches long and 15 inches wide. The glossy leaves are textured (puckered), usually chartreuse but becoming more gold in higher light. It has pale lavender flowers in mid-summer, good slug resistance and sun tolerance. If you are just beginning with hostas, this cultivar (cultivated variety) might be a good place to start.

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