Hostas are herbaceous perennials grown primarily for their foliage. There are more than 1500 species, cultivars and hybrids in the genus Hosta, and new ones are introduced every year.
Hosta leaves come in various shades of green, yellow and blue-green. Many cultivars have white, cam, or yellow coloration, or variegation, on their leaves. Variegated and yellow-leafed varieties help to brighten shady gardens. Leaf shapes and sizes also vary, and some have plant-like patterns or wavy margins.
The bell-shaped flowers form on stalks above the foliage. They come in various shades of purple, white, or in striped combinations of these colors. Breeders are continually developing new cultivars, so the flower color palette will probably expand. Flowering occurs from early to late summer, depending on the variety.
Hostas are shade-loving plants but they prefer filtered or dappled light over deep, heavy shade. Provide moist, yet well drained, soil for hostas. In dry soil, plants become stunted and the leaf margins turn brown. During dry spells, apply at least an inch of water each week.
Hostas often take four to five years to reach their mature size and form. Because of this slow growth, they rarely need to be divided. If you want more plants, or if their growth becomes crowded, divide hostas in the spring or fall.