We love hostas…
(White Feather in April)

…Really we do.
(Royal Standard in April)

But something happens between the glorious days of April and the dog days of August…
(From left: White Feather, Blue Angel, Gold Edger in August)

…To most…
(Frances Williams in August)

…But not…
(Guacamole in August)

(Sum And Substance in August)

We believe the conditions here at the Fairegarden’s steeply sloping land composed of red clay and stoney soil are not to the liking of many varieties of hosta. We know it from experience. In our other Tennessee garden which was located in the far northeast tip of the state, a heavily wooded spot of heaven, hostas were happy denizens. There was a nice collection which was dug up, potted and driven to Texas in the move there in the dilapidated minivan. It was discovered that Hostas did not like it in the Houston suburb at all, not enough winter chill among other problems so the same plants were redug, potted up and moved to the southeast Tennessee home where offspring Semi and others dwelled during their college days. The pots were sunk in the ground on the shady side of the house. When we moved here ourselves, the hostas were planted out and more were added in anticipation of the shade that would be had as the young trees planted grew a canopy of leafy branches. The hostas are still waiting for that shade in some spots. What has been learned is that some of the yellow leaf hostas can withstand quite a bit of summer scalding sun without leaf burn. Those stalwarts are Sunpower, Sum And Substance and Guacamole. Summers here can be quite dry. Hostas like moisture with good drainage. We have the drainage covered and there is moisture during the winter and the required chill dormant period. Those mentioned above can survive our droughty warm months. Of course they would do better with more water. Wouldn’t we all?

This post is to lead the readers to our newly illustrated sidebar page which can be viewed by clicking here- Plants We Grow-Hostas. Photos were taken in mid April as the emerging cones grew to reveal fresh, crisp leaves of joyous texture and color. As the months passed and the heat invaded, some leaves burned to crisps without adequate shade protection. Some leaves had the shade but needed more water and became crispy as well. And some leaves, like those in the final photo of Sum And Substance, maintained their elegance through it all.

Below is the list of cultivars and species grown here. Photos of each can be viewed on the page.

White Feather
Sun Power
Frances Williams
Royal Standard
Krossa Regal
Regal Splendor
Gold Edger
Sum And Substance
Blue Mouse Ears
Fragrant Blue
Blue Angel
Sea Octopus
Big Daddy
August Moon
Paul’s Glory
Ventricosa, (Fortunei) Aureomarginata
Undulata Mediovariegata


This entry was posted in Plant Portrait. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Hostas

  1. Charlotte says:

    Gorgeous picks, as always, Frances. Haven’t been around to visit for a while, so it’s always a treat to drop in on you after travelling! GG

    Hi Charlotte, thanks and so nice to see you here! It has been a busy summer for all of us, I believe. I appreciate you taking time to comment. πŸ™‚

  2. gardeningasylum says:

    Morning Frances, Hostas look a little shopworn here too, as does most everything in August. My Frances W does seem to come out the worst this time of year, mostly due to slug damage. I do find that Krossa regal, sieboldiana Elegans and montana aureomarginata hold up the best for me, even with a bit of sun.

    Hi Cyndy, thanks for visiting. Even up north, eh? But it has been hotter than usual up there this year, right? Frances W. is such a beautiful one, but never looks good past April. It should be replaced, but I don’t have the heart. Maybe moved to a shadier spot, but we don’t really have much shade, and none of it is moist. Krossa R is another beauty that looks awful, sad to say. S and S is the best large leaf by far.

  3. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, Last year the hostas were in heaven~but, we had a cooler, wetter summer. Thank goodness for the stalwarts Sum And Substance and Guacamole or I would have none. They have all declined slowly over the long, hot summer. I can’t even imagine a moist, well draining garden anyplace in Nashville this year! How is your daughter’s garden up in NE TN doing this summer? Your last photo is wonderful. The page for hostas is a great idea. xxxgail

    Dear Gail, thanks. Everything looked better last year with that extra water from the sky. Hope it returns some day! My daughter’s NE TN garden is lush. They have way more rain, more shade and she uses composted manure by the truckload from a friend. You wouldn’t believe the results. I am slowly working to have pages for all the plants here, but it may never come to fruition, I don’t know the names of many, like the ferns.

  4. Layanee says:

    Mine are responding much the same. Love, love, love hostas.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for stopping by. It is the heat, I’m sure. The gardens in the north must wonder what the heck is happening! We so need those large leaves, hope your normal temps return soon. πŸ™‚

  5. Les says:

    I am bad news for hostas, and can’t seem to get one to live more than a couple of years until they just don’t come up. My best results have been with ones I did not pay for. I am not sure where that fits in with “best horticultural practices”, but I will take it.

    Hi Les, thanks for dropping by. I figured you get enough rain for the hostas, and have shade. It might be that the passalongs are what do well anywhere, any type of plant. If there is enough to share, it is the right plant for the area! πŸ™‚

  6. Your hostas look lovely, even in your growing conditions. At my previous home, with wood and shade, I grew so many, but Blue Angel was my favorite back then.

    Hi Cameron, thanks for visiting. I love all the blues, Blue Angel and Halcyon are my faves, but it is the yellow leaves that do best here.

  7. Dave says:

    When I toured a hosta garden a couple months ago the owner talked of how Sum and Substance could withstand more sun than many others. I bought one and planted it. It’s still fairly small but so far has fared well. My other hostas have been scorched because a tree that used to be there isn’t there anymore. I replanted a dogwood but the leaves haven’t grown out to replace what was lost. Hopefully the hostas will survive until the dogwood grows wide enough!

    Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by. I can vouch for Sum And Substance. As for the dogwood growing, that is exactly the case here, and the slow growth has wreaked havoc on the hostas underneath. I hope they, including Frances Williams can live long enough for that shade to happen. Good luck with your S & S! πŸ™‚

  8. Lola says:

    Oh my, you have a wonderful list of those lovely plants. I love them but have a huge problem growing them here. It may be too hot. Now with new neighbor cutting some trees down I don’t have as much shade for the pretty little things. I will just keep trying. Most of what I have I brought back from N.C.

    Hi Lola, thanks. We could not grow them at all in the Houston area, the winters did not provide the necessary dormant period. Here in Tennessee as well as North Carolina, it is more about heat and drought, we have the winter chill. I wish you luck with your babies, they have sentimental value to you.

  9. commonweeder says:

    I sigh over all the beautiful hostas – but the deer are just too voracious, and my garden is essentially in a field. I love all your new Pages. What a great idea.

    Hi Pat, thanks. I know the hostas are deer candy from seeing the chewed nubs in friend’s gardens with that scourge. We have other scourges for them here. The pages are slowly getting made, but I doubt the entire contents of my garden can ever be listed. It keeps changing! πŸ™‚

  10. We’ve hardly had rain for two months now. I have so much garden I have to choose what to focus on and only water a bit. The tomatoes won until yesterday when I realized the hostas, native azaleas, hydrangeas, even the tea laurel were so droopy they might not make it if we didn’t water. Someone from the midwest, please send some rain our way!

    Hi Jill, same here! Everything cannot be watered, period. If we don’t get good rain soon, there will be tree deaths I fear. My plea joins yours, RAIN PLEASE!

  11. Hosta grows great in our neck of the woods, my Sum and Substance looks like a large shrub, even though it is growing in less than prime conditions. We have a booming slug population as a result. My hosta collection is via passalongs as you so aptly put it, and I agree with Les, they are the ones that do the best, also, the ones the slugs will eat like we eat three day-old leftovers. We have a longtime, specialist, Hosta grower and Hosta expert/writer here in the Buffalo area, so any question can be expertly answered. Our Buffalo/Niagara Hosta are in good hands.

    Those hostas we saw in Buffalo were amazing, although I can imagine the slug problem with the nice shady conditions and good rainfall. Slugs are a problem in some spots in my garden, but only to the tiny seedlings and only early in the spring. The summer sends them scampering. I do believe that any plants vigorous enough to be shared are what thrives in that area, sometimes too much so as in the vinca major case. Glad to hear you have such an expert available for help, lucky you! πŸ™‚

  12. Rose says:

    I love hostas, too, Frances, and fortunately, they do well here without much attention from me. I’ve never had much of a problem with pests either, although earlier this summer earwigs put holes in many of the leaves so they looked like Swiss cheese:)
    You have such a variety! I don’t know the names of most of mine, because they were either passalongs or part of a bargain bag collection of unnamed varieties. Pedigreed or not, I’m happy to have them all.

    Hi Rose, thanks. Glad to hear your hostas give pleasure. It took some doing to find a couple of the names, but most were purchased with tags. The names really don’t matter, it’s the leaves that count! πŸ™‚

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You have some real beauties on your list Frances. I am always intrigued by the name of the first one, White Feather. I have meant to track it down but haven’t done so yet. I accidently got a white looking hosta this spring. I put a pot upside down over a hosta that was dormant. I didn’t get the pot moved until later in spring when I potted up that pot. When I lifted the pot there was a perfectly white hosta underneath. Reminds me of what people do to asparagus to get white asparagus. The poor thing has never really recovered. It did color up but hasn’t grown near as large usually as it usually does. I am also wondering what Sea Octopus looks like. I will have to go to your sidebar to see. All of my hostas look pitaful right now except Kossa Regal, Blue Angel and Sagae. Between drought, heat, bugs and falling debris they don’t have much of a chance. Try to keep cool.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. White Feather is the one that I have featured before on the blog. It actually doesn’t look too bad, just no longer white. Your method of blanching is so European! HA It will probably be back to normal next year, if you don’t cover it again! Sea Octopus is a miniature, cute but tiny. I think we had Sagae at one time, but it died. You too stay cool. πŸ™‚

  14. gittan says:

    Mmm… I also love hostas! But I gaven’t got quite as many as you have. I have one called ‘June’ that I absolutely think you should try. ‘June’ is happy planted in a dry spot directly in the sun. She looks even better this time of year than ‘Sum and substance’ and ‘August moon’ atleast in my garden / Kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. I have looked at June several times, my local nursery has it. I will have to give it a try since you recommended it! πŸ™‚

  15. I love them too, but they don’t all love me. I’ve noticed the lime green and variegated ones are the hardest to keep happy throughout summer. The dark blue green leathery ones are the easiest. I should go look at the ones in the front bed to see which cultivars these are, but S&S is one of the best for Oklahoma.

    Hi Dee, thanks for that. I know how you feel. Our other TN garden was perfect for them, but it is cooler and wetter in that part of the state. Sum And Substance is a winner, but hates being divided to get that mass planting. I speak from experience. πŸ™‚

  16. Leslie says:

    You’ve explained why I don’t do well with hostas…too hot and dry in summer, not cold enough in winter. But I do enjoy them in photos from around the country in other people’s gardens.

    Hi Leslie, thanks and welcome. I would guess that you don’t have the chill period for dormancy there in California. We are just on the edge of where so many things will grow, both warmer and cooler, so that they struggle here. We grow them anyway. HA They are so pretty where they grow well, like Buffalo! πŸ™‚

  17. Jenny B says:

    Most of my garden looks fairly bedraggled by August…for that matter, so do I! You have an impressive collection of Hostas. I think they are beautiful, and have a very forgiving nature about looking frazzled by this time of year…we could all do with a little rain (or a lot).

    Hi Jenny, thanks. I am feeling bedraggled as well. Good thing I got that new hair clippie to hold my hair up! Rain, please.

  18. John says:

    Just a thought, you could put them in several different pots. This would help with good drainage, and you could move them to a shadier spot during the hotter part of summer. You could also move them closer to other plants that are dense in growth, causing the humidity to be a little higher.

    Hi John, thanks for that idea. It is not lack of drainage that is a problem here. Our entire property is on a steep slope from top to bottom, no flat land anywhere. Neither is humidity, we have it in the ninety degree range often. Now shade, that is a problem, until those trees grow a little more.

  19. Patsi says:

    Wish I still knew the name of all my hostas.
    Do have most written down…a few got lost somewhere.
    Can’t live without them !
    Mostly the sum and substance.

    Hi Patsi, thanks for stopping by. I would imagine that you can grow very nice hostas, names known or not! Sum And Substance is an easy one to identify, very distinctive. I need more! πŸ™‚

  20. Forget Frances Williams, you need Olive Bailey Langdon. I’ll have to post a shot of mine now. While not perfect (there was a wicked hailstorm awhile back), its leaves hold up remarkably well. The other tough as nails Hostas in my garden are June & Maui Buttercups, which also takes part sun.

    Hi MMD, thanks for those suggestions. You are the second one to mention June, I will have to get her. I am familiar with Maui Buttercups, that one is gorgeous. Will be on the lookout. πŸ™‚

  21. kimberly says:

    Frances, what a list of Hostas, you have! My goodness!! I do love them, but they don’t like Florida. I feel bad for your sunburned leaves. Boo! I like the April – August shots!!

    Hi Kimberly, thanks. I would guess that Florida lacks the cold spell they need. But you do have plenty of nice large leaf plants available. That is the thing we lack here, large leaves. Sum And Substance offers the largest, we need more of them but they are pricey.

  22. Jake says:

    Hosta’s are wonderful and I have to say I only have a few that look like yours. The dryness seems to affect mine more then sun. Those that I have kept watered are still nice looking or just a little brown.


    Hi Jake, thanks for that. I never know if it is sun, heat or dry that does them in. But I so admire the ones that are unaffected like Sunpower, S & S, and Guacamole.

  23. I was just given a start of Guacamole by a friend. I think I will be brave and put it in a less shady location, based on what you’ve said.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for stopping by. As was mentioned in previous comments, we believe the toughest and best for your area are what are shared as passalongs. It does make sense. Guacamole is one that I was able to divide into a large swath because it was so vigorous. That cannot be said for most of the hostas here.

  24. Jean says:

    Frances, That Guacamole looks wonderful. I am always amazed by the wide variety of conditions that hostas can grow in; it’s a wonder that some of the same varieties thrive in both your clay Tennessee garden and my sandy Maine garden. Because it’s considerably cooler here (we act as though it’s the end of the world when the temps get above 90F)and the hostas don’t actually emerge from the ground until late May, mine are still looking fresh in August. My absolute favorite is the species nigrescens; it’s one of the progenitors of Krossa Regal but has more rounded leaves in a deep, deep green. -Jean

    Hi Jean, thanks for visiting. You are right about the differences in our soil and climate and the plants that can tolerate both types. I will look into the nigrescens, we like species anythings. πŸ™‚

  25. Joey says:

    I’m a huge hosta lover and so are the slugs 😦 Thankfully they do well here in Michigan but are not as lush as in the early spring/summer garden. Sum and Substance is the true beauty now.

    Hi Joey, thanks for weighing in here. It seems Sum And Substance is a world wide winner! Need more. πŸ™‚

  26. Your Frances Williams looks identical to my ‘Wide Brim’ which is in a similar state now.

    You seem to do a good job in the battle against slugs ‘n’ snails.

    I grow wide brim in two large tubs which have a copper band around them which supposedly the little gits don’t like to cross. I say supposedly as I’ve seen snails merrily track across, possibly even dance on the metal bands.

    I’m not convinced they work!

    Hi Rob, thanks. I feel your pain. Slugs are not a problem for the hostas, but it is my orchids they desire! I use copper screening as shelf liners and it works. I wonder if your copper bands are not pure copper, or coated with something?

  27. wow i was amazed on the plants there were very green and alive . how you preserves that? can you give me some tips? i hope to hear from you . thanks

    I can’t tell if this is spam or not. But liked your product, so it is here for the time being.

  28. hostabuff says:

    It has been a tough season here in the northeast. hosta that usually still look good September 1 are fried! Too much heat no matter how much water was provided. However your Sum and Substance looks pretty good. Nice colleciton of hosta!

    Hi Hostabuff, thanks. I can appreciate your heat and drought, we have the exact same conditions here with regularity. Why we are even trying to grow hostas at all is a burning question. But Sum and Substance, Sunpower and Guacamole has been the exception and look pretty dadburned good in spite of the summer weather.

Comments are closed.