Sun Hostas

Sun Hostas

Hostas - Sun or Shade?

By Published May 05, 2017 Updated September 28, 2022

Hostas are wonderful perennial plants that are native to the prairies of China, Korea, and Japan. In the U.S., hostas have been cultivated for over 150 years and there are now over 6,000 cultivars available with more than 500 that are currently in the trade. Most hosta cultivars prefer woodland type conditions with light shade and a few hours of morning sunlight. Hostas are famously low-maintenance plants that thrive in a variety of conditions.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when planting your hostas if you want them to really thrive. You should plant hostas in well-drained soil that is only slightly acidic. Well amended soil rich in organic matter and a slightly raised bed will provide adequate drainage and prevent root rot if, like us, you have wet winters. They are also quite drought-tolerant but just about 1 inch of water per week will keep the leaves looking great and insure the best flowering. The more sun you give your hostas, the more moisture you must apply to the soil to make up for the increase in moisture loss.

How Much Sun Do Hostas Need?

Most people think that hostas are just shade plants but in the wild, they are actually prairie plants. In Japan, you are likely to find hostas growing with day lilies and wild grasses. These grasses grow tall plumes that help cover the hostas and this is how they survive the afternoon sun. Modern hosta cultivars have a fairly wide range of sun tolerance but in general, the green-leaved cultivars are the most sun-tolerant. Most do fine with morning sun but leaf colors are better preserved if they have some shade, especially in the hotter afternoon sun.

Do Hostas Like Sun or Shade?

Most all hostas will grow fine in morning sun, and a few will tolerate all day sun as long as the soil is moist and the air temperatures are cool. The further south hostas grow, the more they need afternoon shade. Even the most tolerant sun hostas will benefit from afternoon shade in warmer climates. In northern zones most gardeners consider hosta sun plants. As a general rule, hostas will grow much more robustly and multiply much faster when grown in part-sun conditions meaning, at least a few hours of direct, morning sun and shade in the afternoon.

Hostas That Like Sun

Here are just some of the Plant Delights introductions that do great in part-sun to light-shade conditions.

  • Hosta 'Etched Glass' - One of Tony's Favorites, this hosta has extremely thick leaves and fragrant light lavender flowers.
  • Hosta 'Floramora' - A Plant Delights Nursery introduction, this cross between the Japanese Hosta longipes and the Chinese Hosta plantaginea produces tall spikes of fragrant white flowers that open from purple-flushed buds.
  • Hosta 'Green Ice' - Another PDN introduction, this hosta is one that is on the smaller side and produces small stalks of lavender flowers atop dense clumps of pointed leaves.

Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. offers a large selection of the top hostas for sun and shade. For each variety, we indicate whether that hosta variety can take only light shade or part sun. These conditions are based on our experience in central North Carolina, so if you live further north, these same hostas are more sun tolerant. Plant Delights Nursery can provide you with more information on how to properly plant and grow your hostas and other perennials. If you are interested in sun hostas, we can help you to choose from among our many cultivars based on your specific gardening needs. Hostas are typically chosen for their beautiful foliage and depending on the specific type of hosta that you choose, you could also be greeted with beautiful and fragrant blooms throughout late spring and summer.

Those needing plants for part-sun and woodland conditions will find plenty of hosta cultivars that will thrive. Caring for hostas is not difficult. In fact, these are fairly durable and low maintenance plants. You can divide your hostas any time of year if they become too large for the space provided.

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