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Are you looking for inspiration?
We have re-designed our planting pages to be a collection of images and information which might help you plan your 'Hosta spaces' in your garden.
We often get enquiries from customers wanting us to suggest planting plans for specific areas of their gardens or suggestions for 'wow' feature plants, which we are always happy to help with. As a result we thought we should have an area dedicated to ideas we have tried, which have inspired and would work well in most garden situations. However, if you are already well on your way, may we suggest our 'search resource':

Search Page
At the top of the page is a list of the dominant leaf colours. Click on the colour you are looking for and all the varieties we have available for sale, with that leaf colour, are listed in order of size.
The links to more information are colour-coded to indicate the flower colour.

This area of the website has been divided into three main themes:

  • combination planting: how to include Hosta in your garden and particularly good combinations of plants to consider.
  • container planting: the advantages of container growing and how to do it to best effect.
  • landscape planting: working with existing features and creating new ones in your garden.

Different growing conditions
All gardens will have areas where certain plants struggle to do well, either because of light levels or soil conditions. Often conditions are not ideal perhaps because you are having to live with what neighbours have inflicted on you, or your garden is prone to flooding, etc. Hostas are extremely tolerant plants and can cope with any conditions other than extremes of wet or dry, so they are worth considering when other genus may have failed to grow for you.
This section is divided into different growing conditions, including those that are more challenging, to give you a starting point to explore potential ideas:

  1. Dappled shade, well-drained with some moisture retention
    These are ideal conditions for growing most hostas. In the wild they proliferate on vegetative-rich mountainsides in temperate climates, forming the lowest part of the foliage canopy. They prefer passing water rather than to sit in very moist soil.

  2. Deep shade, dry-looking woodland
    Woodland is the hostas natural home, despite the competition for water with much larger plants, hostas thrive. They will sink their roots deeper to find moisture if necessary and they get all the nutrients they require through the gentle process of decaying vegetation.

  3. Lack of shade / full sun
    This can be too much for many hostas without access to regular watering. The sun will bleach the leaves and ruin the colour. Modern tetraploid cultivars cope far better in full sun but they still require a ready source of moisture, perhaps beside a water feature.
    Although it may appear your garden has no shade whatsoever, you only have to watch how the sun casts shadows across your garden during the day. Even south & west facing gardens begin the day in shade. It takes time to develop planting to create shade, however, use of hard landscaping features can help produce shade until such time as your natural planting can take over. For example, putting up a pergola or trellis and training climbers up it will create a surprising amount of dappled shade. Contemporary structures such as canopies have become popular to provide shade so why not consider erecting something similar to shade planting?

  4. Problem soil
    Extremes of wet or dry are not good for hostas. However, they can still be grown with a little lateral thinking thrown into the mix. We have customers who garden on chalk, sand, blue clay, you name it, and they have found ways of adapting their approach to the conditions they face. Invariably the easiest thing to do when faced with very challenging soil is to container grow. Click here for some container planting ideas.
    There are ways of improving the soil sufficiently to grow directly in the ground and you don't have to consider doing this for the whole garden - just specific areas. For example:
    • Raised beds are a particularly good idea for gardens prone to flooding and on hillside gardens to help prevent excessive leaching of nutrients during prolonged rainy periods. We have created raised beds around the nursery to grow plants which hate heavy loamy soil.
    • Tanking over-sized holes in the ground with breathable membrane will help retain soil conditioning elements and help plants to establish so they can cope with the harsher conditions when mature.

  5. Bog garden
    Unless such an area is in full sun we suggest you avoid planting hostas in bog gardens unless you ensure the crown of the plant is well above the mean water level. However, hostas would do well if planted in pots standing in a bog garden. If your bog garden is in full sun then choose varieties more able to cope with the light levels, such as tetraploid varieties, and ensure you plant them with their crowns above the mean water level to avoid damping off.

  6. Patios
    Most patios enjoy the sun at some point during the day, which is why they are situated in the sunnier spots. Patio areas beside brick walls and fencing often benefit from radiated warmth from these structures as well as from direct sunlight, so bear this in mind when watering. Hostas do best when container grown in such conditions and we recommend standing your containers in shallow dishes or trays and keep these topped up with water. This helps the plant to have access to water at all times and is a natural barrier to snails.
    Fragrant varieties of hosta are particularly good on patios as they need additional warmth in the late afternoon/evening to encourage flowering.
    Click here for some container planting ideas.

  7. Courtyards or basement flat entrances
    Lack of direct sunlight need not be a problem because there are ways of improving light levels in such areas through painting walls/fences white or adding mirrors to reflect light into the space. A particularly imaginative garden created at Hampton Court in 2009 used mirrors to light an underground garden - "It's Hard to See" won 'Best Conceptual Garden Design' for the designers and certainly inspired us to think about using such techniques in problem areas (see August 2009 newsletter for more details).
    Once again hostas grown in containers do particularly well in such conditions - click here for some ideas.

  8. Windy sites
    Some varieties of hosta will scorch if grown in open, windy conditions. Wind can have an even harsher dessicating effect on lush foliage than direct sun, which will create papery, brown areas on the leaves. Companion planting of such areas with more wind tolerant shrubs can provide the shelter needed for hostas to thrive as accent plants.

  9. Lack of space
    Small and miniature varieties of hosta allow you to create a miniature garden in a pot or trough. So however small your space, you can create something wonderful. Click here for some container planting ideas.

  10. Too much space
    Increasingly customers are looking to hostas to provide seasonal interest in larger gardens and parks. Hostas are great space fillers during the season, so why not consider planting up areas of giant varieties, edged with medium-sized varieties to create instant spring beds, which then die back in the autumn.

    For products and ideas for plant and garden accessories, why not visit the Horticultural Exhibitors' Association website for accredited suppliers of all manner of garden sundries -
    HEA Specialisms
Last updated: 1/3/2017