Drops of June rain patter on the windows and porch roof. As water touches the earth, refreshment comes to the faithful hostas.
Pillars of gardening, hostas are the basis for many a beautiful and satisfying landscape. And unlike annuals which need full sun, most hostas welcome some degree of shade during hot summer days.
A shade-loving perennial is what our yard needed years ago. Maple trees in the area provided shade along the east and west yard lines. As I cut flower beds along those lines, I wondered how I could afford enough hostas to make a show of the beds that first year. A friend generously offered me her whole stock of hostas, as she was “remodeling” her yard. As I dug the woody-rooted plants, she explained how to cut through the root stock to make smaller, more numerous starts. After doing this and planting long rows are both yard lines, my son’s little red wagon was still heaping full of small green hostas. Two neighbors took some for their yards and as summer progressed it was obvious that these Royal Standard variety (or August Lily as some call them) liked their new homes.
Large, rounded leaves grew and bent to form new mounds of deep green. They earned their way in my yard by choking out weeds. All they required was an inch of water a week, Late August came and bud stalks appeared, shooting above the leaves. Large, snowy-white trumpets followed, opening up to release one of the most wonderful fragrances I’ve ever experienced in gardening. Early morning cool air brought the scent into the house.
Fourteen years later, those hostas were still going strong. When we realized sixteen years later on that we would be moving, all the hostas were healed in at my mother’s house. A year later most of them were moved to our present location where they continue to flourish. In total, those starts are now over forty years old. You can’t get much better than that.
These wonders of the plant world are now in more sun that ever before, yet they continue to be the royal standard for my yard, a versatile, elegant host of my garden.
Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful.
* Plant in full or partial shade.
* Soil should have good organic matter content for water retention.
* In dry weather, water an inch per week.
* Plant crown of starts about 2 inches below ground level.
* Plant in groups of three or four for lots of coverage.
* After a few years, lift and divide plants for healthy growth.
* Fertilize with half-strength, all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer every other month.