In the Yard: Hosta Takeover

by Nina Myers McCammon

Remember when the hostas looked like scrolls unfurling out of the ground? Well, in the last month, these hearty guys have officially covered up every last inch of soil and are spilling over onto the walkways. They're shade tolerant and they're abundant. Theo even fell into a patch last week and said, "I hurt the hostas!" but nothing can harm them—well, aside from the deer—as they're one of the most robust, low-maintenance plants money can buy. And, did you know they're edible, too?

Hostas belong to the Asparagacae family which includes asparagus (hence the name), yucca, and agave. The Japanese have been eating "urui" (Japanese for "hosta") for centuries, but the parts that you can eat differ depending on the species; in some cases it's the shoots, others the leaf petiole, others the whole leaf. You can even eat the flowers—they're considered bland but make a pretty garnish. Younger shoots are typically preferred because they're more tender than the course leaves you see below, so I'm thinking we should set up shop at a farmer's market next spring and feed half our town!

Helpful hosta tips for beginners after the photo jump:

Hostas For Beginners, via Steve Bender for Southern Living:
These personal favorites are easy to find and grow.

  • 'August Moon'--chartreuse leaves; white blooms; 20 inches tall and 30 inches wide
  • 'Frances Williams'--puckered, blue-green leaves with yellow edges; lavender blooms; 3 feet tall and wide
  • 'Golden Tiara'--small, heart-shaped, green leaves with golden edges; purple flowers; 12 inches tall and 15 inches wide
  • 'Guacamole'--chartreuse leaves with green edges; fragrant, white blooms; 18 inches tall and 4 feet wide
  • 'Halcyon'--heart-shaped, powder blue leaves; blue flowers; 18 inches tall and 3 feet wide 'Royal Standard'--glossy, deeply veined, green leaves; fragrant, white flowers; 2 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
  • 'Elegans' (H. sieboldiana 'Elegans')--large, puckered, blue-gray leaves; pale lilac blooms; 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide