You don't have to sacrifice beauty for low maintenance. Instead, include hosta varieties available in a myriad of leaf shapes, sizes and color combinations. These mainstays of the shade garden are hardy, reliable and provide added beauty to the landscape from spring through fall.
Check out the many varieties of these popular plants. You'll find bright green, blue-green to gold leaves. Some will have stripes or splashes of white, cream or gold. The leaves may be smooth, strongly veined or even puckered and can be heart-shaped, long and narrrow or cupped. And a few of the newer varieties have red stems to add to the colorful display. Watch as the leaves turn yellow in fall adding new color to the garden.
Enjoy the white or lavender flowers that appear in mid summer or fall depending on the variety. Some flowers are fragrant and all attract hummingbirds and bees. Leave a few of the seedpods on the plants for the Juncos to enjoy.
Water new plantings often enough to keep the roots slightly moist. Once established, water thoroughly but less often to encourage deep roots. Water deeply, moistening the top 6 inches of soil--whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist.
Monitor hostas and other plants growing under trees, eaves and other structures. The rain doesn't always reach these plants. So check the soil moisture throughout the season and water as needed.
Reduce the need to water by mulching the soil. Spread a 1-2 inch layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material over th soil surface to conerve moisture and suppress weeds. Keep mulch off the crown of the plant to avoid rot.
Fertilize in spring as the plants emerge and right after flowering if needed. Use a slow release fertilizer to encourage slow, steady growth that is more resistant to pests and more drought tolerant.
Watch for the deer, rabbits and slugs that also love these beauties. Apply animal repellents as soon as the plants begin emerging in spring and repeat as needed. Use an eco-friendly product like 'Slug Magic' wit the active ingredient iron phosphate to control slugs without harming pets, wildlife and people.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Hosta, Plantain Lily, Funkia
Size: 6 to 60" tall by 72" wide, depending on the variety
Light: Part to full shade, best color in dappled or filtered light
Water: Water thoroughly when top inch or two of soil begins to dry.
Soil: Rich, moist with lots of organic matter
Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!