Hostas – A Perennial Workhorse
Landscaping Plants for Bergen County
Hostas in the garden
Hostas are one of my favorite plants. A plain, common hosta can look stunning when it is planted among the right plants and an expensive, showy hosta can look disappointing when it clashes with its neighbors. The key to getting the most from your hostas is using the concepts of balance and accent as you weave them into your garden design. Balancing the colors and sizes of your hostas will help them work with the rest of your design. Accenting them with the appropriate companion plants will help them get the attention they deserve.
The image to the right shows hostas planted in the shade of a smoke tree, accented with ferns, daylilys and nettle. You can also use shade-tolerant annuals like impatiens (Impatiens walleriana cvs.), nicotiana (Nicotiana spp. and cvs.), browallia (Browallia speciosa and cvs.), torenia (Torenia fournieri and cvs.), and coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs.) for season-long color and the opportunity to try different color combinations each year.
One common mistake gardeners make when designing with hostas is to try to create interest with a heavy use of showy gold or variegated hostas. Because these plants pop out at you, too many of them make a garden seem chaotic rather than harmonious.To balance your design, use mainly green, blue, or subtly variegated hostas.
It’s easy to balance these hostas because they are unlikely to clash with other plants around them or clamor for attention. You can use green, blue, and lightly variegated hostas almost anywhere to support other plants, add structure, and make the garden lush. These hostas have a quiet presence. The more of them you have, the more restful your garden will be.
Tips for Creating Visual Appeal in your Garden Beds:
1 – Clumps of small hostas can be used to crisply edge a garden, sidewalk or driveway.
Hostas in containers can brighten a deck, patio or garden.
2 – Use yellows in the front and blue tones which fade into the background to create depth of field.
3 – Plants in small groups look best when planted in odd numbers. Larger masses can be planted in any number.
4 – Spring bulbs work well with almost any hosta, and their foliage after blooming can be hidden by hosta leaves that cover dying foliage.
5 – As a rule the tallest hostas should be placed in the background, but it may create more interest to occasionally place a large hosta in the foreground.
So if you are considering a perennial bed, give hostas a shot. You’ll be glad you did. They are low maintenance plants, go well with other annuals and perennials, and come in a variety of colors and textures.