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Hostas, also known as Plantain Lily, originally came from Japan, China, and Korea. They were introduced to the United States in the middle 1800’s. The hosta plant is named after Nicolas Host from Austria. Hybridization of the 40 some species of hosta have produced in excess of 3000 registered and named varieties. Hostas are long-lived, herbaceous perennial plants that are easy to grow. Hostas are in the top three most popular perennials in the United States and is the number 1 shade perennial grown.
There are few perennials that are as easy to grow as the hosta. Hostas like rich organic soils, prefers moisture, and they like morning sun and afternoon shade. Hosta leaves are large and they transpire more moisture in lighter areas so supplemental water is important. Hostas are heavy feeders and fertilizer should be applied in early spring and again in mid-summer. Hostas are a favorite food for deer, slugs and snails. Fencing is about the only way to keep deer away but the slugs and snails can be kept at bay with common insecticides. Hostas grow best in soils with a pH range of 5.0 to 7.5.
Hostas are great plants when they are used individually or when they are mixed into a perennial or shrub border. They are used as specimens, background plants, and groundcovers. Use hostas to encircle tree trunks or as companion plants for ornamental grasses. Choices abound in size and shapes, leaf color, leaf texture, and flower color.