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Portland Nursery

HOSTA: Plantain Lily

Flexibility and abundance are the first two words that spring to mind when I think of hostas. There are over 3000 registered cultivars of hosta! They are so easy going and popular it is easy to forget what a low-maintenance standard they are in the garden or the showy diversity of foliage they can bring to a space. In mid-summer stems rise above the foliage bearing stalks of white-purple flowers - some with lovely fragrance.

Clumps of this long lived perennial can be tiny or huge, grey-blue, green, or variegated and shade or sun tolerant. In their natural habitat in the Far East of Japan and China they can be found in an astonishing array of situations; high altitude meadows, rocky sunny cliffs, along streams with their roots dangling in water and as epiphytes. Most however are from areas of high rainfall and shade, making them perfect for Pacific Northwest gardens. They routinely do well in temperatures from 28-100° and can survive even more extremes.

They can be planted in the ground or in containers (H. elegans is best avoided in containers). In containers large leaved types like more soil in the potting mix, while smaller leaved types like a soilless mix.

Here at Portland Nursery in spring we often have nearly 50 kinds of hosta in stock! The lists below offer a few of our favorites sorted by commonly asked for traits. How to find the perfect hosta fit for you? Check out the lists below or come on in! We would love to help you select a hosta that will add character, beauty, and fullness to your garden.

Hosta 'Blue Angel'

Large Blue Leaves

  • Krossa Regal
  • Blue Mammoth
  • Halcyon (pictured below)
  • Love Pat
  • Blue Angel

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

Sun Tolerant

  • Guacamole
  • Sum and Substance (pictured below)
  • Abba-Dabba-Do
  • Fortunei Aureo- Marginata
  • August Moon

Hosa 'Plantaginea'

Fragrant Flowers

  • Fragrant bouquet
  • Honey Bells
  • Fragrant Blue
  • Guacamole
  • Plantaginea (pictured below)

Hosta stiletto


(around 1 ft.)
  • Blue Mouse Ears
  • Cats Eye
  • Cherry Berry
  • Stiletto (pictured below)

More of our favorites

Hosta 'Francee' Hosta 'Alba Marginata'

Hosta Francee'                   Hosta undulata 'Albo Marginata'

Hosta 'Samurai' Hosta 'Island Charm'

Hosta 'Samurai'                   Hosta 'Island Charm'

Hosta' Gold Standard' Hosta 'Sunspot'

Hosta 'Gold Standard'          Hosta 'Sunspot'


Pictures of hosta species and cultivars, along with other information, may be found at http://www.hostalibrary.org

Hosta 'Blue Angel'

Hosta 'Blue Angel'

Hosta 'Abba Dabba Do'

Hosta 'Adda Dabba Do'

Hosta 'Honey Bells'

Hosta 'Honey Bells'


Family: Agavaceae or Hostaceae

Genus: Hosta

Common Name: Hosta, also formerly called Funkia and Plantain lily.

Origin: Japan, Eastern China and Korea

Culture: Tolerant of a variety of conditions depending on cultivar. None of them like dark, dense shade. They enjoy protection from intense winds. In general Hosta prefer moist, well-drained, cool soil.

They prefer to be watered under the leaves via watering can or soaker hose in the morning. Usually, the more moisture available the more sun the plant can take. Blue-green leaves and white variegated leaves tent to do best in shaded places. Green to yellow leaved varieties tend to take more sun. Ven the most sun tolerant varieties still prefer some shade.

Maintenance and propagation: So easy care! Slug baiting and weekly water in summer is about all you need to do to keep these beauties looking good.
In the Portland area, plant hostas by October to give them enough time to settle their roots before cold weather sets in. They appreciate being lightly mulched in spring and autumn. Fertilizing is best done in spring to early summer.

They tend to multiply abundantly; dividing is not usually needed. Many people divide them in order to have more plants. Using two forks to pry large dug up clumps apart works well or you can divide by using a spade to remove a section of a clump in the ground. Dividing is best done in spring or in July/August (you will need to cut the foliage down if you choose to do it in summer). You can also divide in autumn in our area.

Pest and Disease: Slugs and snails are the biggest pest and make holes in the leaves. In rural areas deer sometimes snack on hostas.