May Tips & Advice


‘Ideal for shade’ with hosta varieties

Hosta - web

Love luscious hosta! If you are asking yourself what to grow in the shade of a garden tree, or beside the garage, or next door’s gable end - then look no further than this leafy double problem solver. As well as being great in shade, the wonderful leafy growth also comes at a time when spring bulbs are dying back. Partner the two and mask the over-blown remains of the bulbs with fabulous new foliage.

But hosta is so much more than simply a problem-solver, as their massive following would suggest. They’re great in a woodland garden, as well as in borders and beds. They’re effective in combination with plants with Japanese heritage, including the smaller maples, bamboos, hydrangeas or ferns.

Leaves in dense mounds is what hostas do best and depending on variety they may be yellow, green, grey-blue or variegated. The pattern and range of variegation, along with the range of colour brings interest to mixed borders or beds. Leaves may be heart-shaped, or ovate. Most also produce attractive flowers mainly in summer.

There’s a terrific range to choose from. Look out for ‘Wide Brim’. This produces wonderful dark green leaves that have a wide margin of pale cream. It reaches a height of about 45cm and a spread of 1m. The leaves of Hosta fortunei appear early enough to combine well with late spring flowers, for example bluebells. Many variants are available. ‘Shade Fanfare’ produces large, bright yellow-green leaves with creamy white edges and reaches a height and spread of 45cm and 60cm respectively. ‘Halcyon’ is a great choice if you’re looking for blue-green or glaucous foliage. ‘Gold Standard’ is another good one to look out for with its heart shaped yellow-green leaves.

Hostas are a clump-forming plant which really helps if you want to populate an area. If you dig up established clumps of hosta, it’s possible to split the clump with a spade and replant the resulting halves. They’ll do well under deep-rooting trees and are perfect near water, for example the shaded sides of a pond or stream.

As perennials they die back completely in winter, the new spear-like shoots of the tightly rolled leaves appearing in spring. Hostas are fully hardy. They need a reasonably fertile, moist but well-drained soil. It’s important to stop them drying out, but spreading compost over the surface (mulching) in spring should do the trick. Their succulent leaves can prove too much of a temptation to slugs, so growing in pots keeps the leaves out of harm’s way if the war against slugs is one that you don’t wish to engage in. In fact hostas are superb plants for hanging baskets and all sorts of container gardening.


Seasonal highlights

Glorious gardens start here! Shades of green and splashes of colour emerge everywhere at this time of year. It doesn’t matter how small a space you’ve got – get out there and get some plant magic!

Outdoor living – eating, drinking, playing outside – now is when it gets going so dust off the garden furniture and get ready for summer and the great outdoors.

A great time for a planting project– why not visit your local garden centre for inspiration. Ring the changes – how about hosta with an acer as a stylish new combination centrepiece.

Hostas – quick guide


Lovely hostas with luscious foliage are ideal for shade

  • Look great in a shrub border – perfect under a trees
  • Rich foliage looks fabulous next to brightly coloured flowers
  • Most hostas should do well in fertile, moist soil in shade or partial shade
  • Hardy and easy to grow

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