Hosta History

Authored by Kristelle Falk - Greenhouse Sales Manager
Apr 5th, 2021
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Hostas: you know ’em, you love ‘em. But do you actually know anything about them? We have all encountered a hosta in our lives, they are one of the most popular shade plants for our area. They are hardy, tolerant to practically everything and they are gorgeous. With those huge leaves and lovely bell flowers they are hard to resist. But do you know where they come from? Who discovered these lovely plants and how did they make their way all the way over here? Well dear reader, come on a journey with me to the beautiful country of China.

Now the original Hosta plantainea come from China and most of our hosta’s come from a hosta in Japan. All thanks to Phillip Franz von Siebold we have the hostas of today, he is the man who brought the hosta from Japan to Europe to be used as a feature garden plant. From Europe, like most garden plants, they made their way to the Americas. Hosta’s originally grew in ravines and shadowy wet crevasses making it perfect for our heavy clay soils and damp shady areas. Many of our hostas these days come from all over eastern Asia, Korea, Japan, and even parts of Russia.

Hosta’s have an incredible tolerance for the deepest shade and the damp soils, the only things they cannot tolerate is large amounts of sunlight and being too dry. Now there are some hostas that don’t mind part sun, but every hosta does benefit from some shade. A fun fact many don’t know about hosta’s is that they are edible and are even used as a vegetable in some Asian cultures. That being said, they can be toxic to dogs, cats, and even horses when consumed in large quantities. This can cause symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. So, if you have a pet that simply cannot stop eating your plants, you may want to steer clear of hostas and look into another shade-loving perennial.

Now at our greenhouse we don’t carry every type of hosta. In fact, very few probably do because there is more than 6,100 different types of hostas that are currently registered! That being said, we do carry many of the popular varieties and usually bring in one or two new types every year to get a nice variety. My favorite hosta by far would have to be the White Feather Hosta. It is a smaller hosta type with gorgeous white leaves that fade into soft green veins and steams. Truly a stunning addition to any garden! The unfortunate part about the White Feather Hosta is that it is quite fickle about its location and water. Due to its mostly white leaves, it can’t handle heavy sun and needs a fairly cool location and cannot be over watered. However, if you succeed I promise that this hosta will not disappoint you!

Another favourite in contrast to the delicate White Feather is the Blue Angel Hosta. This hosta gets massive with large, heart-shaped blue/green leaves and purple flower stocks. The Blue Angel Hosta is simply gorgeous for beside a shady water feature to get that “secret garden” look. With its large heart shaped leaves, it gains a full bush like form that is very unique and lush. Something I have always loved about hostas is that every single one is unique, and there are so many different leaf shapes, colours, and sizes. There is a hosta out there for every occasion and garden style. If you are needing a lovely leafy feature in your shady areas, I highly recommend you get one of the many varieties of hostas to add that final touch to your backyard paradise!

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