Le Hosta in the garden
Much used in the gardens of our grandmothers, the hosta plant seemed to have been forgotten, but fortunately it is experiencing a "second youth" finding the place it deserves in the garden; the obstacles are medium-sized perennial herbaceous plants: during spring they produce large tufts of large oval, lanceolate or heart-shaped leaves, thick and leathery, carried by long arched petioles; the tufts can reach 50-80 cm of diameter and height. In summer between the leaves stand long stems that bear panicles of delicate flowers of lilac color. The foliage of the original osta species is light green or bluish green; there are hundreds of hybrids on the market, with variegated, wrinkled, bluish, sage, or even particularly large or small leaves.
Classification and history
The Hosta genus is very broad and varied: it includes about 40 species from which they are derived, thanks to hybridization and crossbreeding, over 6000 varieties and cultivars, different in color and size.
They belong to the family of Aspargaceae and are native to East Asia, particularly Korea, China, Japan and eastern Russia. In their spontaneous state they grow in wooded and mountainous areas, often close to water courses.
These herbaceous plants look a bit old-fashioned: they were in fact widespread in nineteenth-century gardens: at that time, in fact, they represented a great novelty and in a short time became very appreciated for the external shaded areas, but also in containers, to embellish apartments or dimly-lit hallways.
The introduction in the West of the first species goes back to Philip Franz von Siebold, a German doctor who lived for a time in Japan, where they were already very appreciated. Finally, towards the end of the nineteenth century, other endemic species from Korea and China arrived.
Their appreciation only increased, but in the United States there was a real wave of enthusiasm thanks to which more than 2000 cultivars were obtained before the end of that century.
Still today the breeders do not get tired of introducing novelties, in size (there are very small ones and gigantic ones), for coloring the leaves and for adaptability to different light conditions.
LE HOSTA IN BRIEF
|Family, genus, species||Aspargaceae, Hosta, about 40 species|
|Type of plant||Lively herbaceous|
|Height at maturity||From 15 to 120 cm|
|Width at maturity||From 30 to 150 cm|
|Flowers||From white to purple|
|density||From 9 to 1 per m2, depending on the variety|
|Ground||Rich and fresh|
|Exposure||Half shade / shade. Some even sun|
|irrigations||Frequent in the summer|
|Rusticitа||Rich and fresh|
|Growth||From normal to fast|
|Composting||Nitrogen, slow release|
|soil pH||From subacid to subalcaline|
|Use||Ground cover, borders, flower beds, pots, indoor plant|
Where to place them
Hostas are rather hardy and resistant garden plants, in fact they do not fear the cold, even if intense, because in winter they lose the aerial part, to start again to germinate from the rhizomatous roots as soon as the temperatures rise in spring. They settle down in the ground or even in a vase, in a bright place but not directly hit by the direct rays of the sun for too many hours a day; some species with particular colored foliage even seem to prefer shade: in fact, if placed in a sunny place, their foliage loses color. The ideal place would be under a deciduous tree, so that they enjoy direct sunlight in winter, which warms the ground by keeping it frozen for the shortest possible time, and in the shade in summer, when the heat is torrid and could dry the substrate too quickly.
Or we can grow our potted plants, so as to move them into the shade during the summer.
In this case we supply them with a large container, at least 35-45 cm in diameter.
Hostas are lively herbaceous plants: they emerge from the ground around April, only to disappear completely in mid-autumn. They produce longer leaves than wide, from acid green to dark green or glaucous, with uniform color or differently variegated or marginalized. They represent their true attraction, even if the pleasant flowering, produced from July to October (depending on the species), carried on long stems, in colors from white to lilac to violet, sometimes even perfumed, should not be forgotten.
The root system is rhizomatous and forms large lattices, thanks to which there is a rather rapid growth in width.
These are not particularly demanding plants, above all they tend to adapt even in non-ideal conditions, vegetating without problems; however, they prefer semi-shady locations, and fairly cool and moist soil. Let's cultivate them in a good rich and deep soil, well drained but fresh; in case of drought we water with good regularity, especially if the top is very hot; at the end of winter we spread on the ground around the roots of the slow-release granular fertilizer, which will dissolve over the weeks, guaranteeing a constant level of mineral salts in the soil.
Tips for cultivation osta
We always remember that the specimens grown in pots need more care than the siblings placed in the ground: therefore we water more frequently, we fertilize more carefully and smaller amounts, and above all at least every two years we remember to change the soil of the pot.
The plants of this variety do not like to be disturbed, so once they are planted we avoid working the soil excessively, or extracting them from the substrate to divide them, but we let them spread freely in the garden, forming ever wider patches from year to year.
THE CALENDAR OF THE HOSTA
|Planting||Spring; even until the autumn|
|Division||Spring, even until the autumn|
|Flowering||From July to October (depending on the variety)|
|Irrigation||From June to September, in dry soil|
|Composting||Every 3 months, slow release granular|
|Vegetative rest||November to March|
How to plant hosta
The cultivation of hostas is very simple, since practically they do not require maintenance. If well positioned they usually grow and spread quite quickly.
The best time to proceed with the planting is between the end of winter and the beginning of spring (in any case, but above all for the bare-rooted specimens). In the second instance it is possible to carry out this processing also in autumn and in any case, with a little more attention, for those well stabilized in pots, at any time of the year (taking care not to break the earthen bread).
Dig a hole the size of the pot and place a handful of seasoned manure on the bottom. The specimen is then inserted, taking care that the collar is at ground level. We compact well and irrigate abundantly.
If we have purchased plants with bare roots or in jars of 8-10 cm in diameter it is advisable to enlarge them in a container first. The young specimens can, in full ground, encounter difficulties due to radical competition or attacks by gastropods. If we give them the opportunity to strengthen themselves in pots for one or two years we will then be certain to plant plants ready to face any kind of adversity.
Where to place the Hosta
Hostas love shady or only partially sunny locations. They are ideal as a ground cover under the deciduous trees or in all the dim spots. Direct light is best tolerated by varieties with light green foliage: it is however preferable to expose them only to the morning sun, especially in Central and Southern Italy. The complete shadow is almost never an obstacle to vegetative growth, although it can sometimes lead to the loss of flowering.
Hostas can be used happily as houseplants, with good non-direct lighting.
An important enemy is in the wind, which can damage and dehydrate the leaves. We prefer sheltered locations.
Hosta plants want a fresh and rich in organic substance substrate. The clay soils are ideal and able to retain moisture for a long time (without however stagnation). In order to keep the soil aerated and vital, it is advisable, in the month of November, to spread an abundant mulch based on flour manure to be delicately incorporated when the warm weather arrives.
Hosta in a vase
For the cultivation in container it is recommended to use a mixture obtained with 2/3 of field soil and 1/3 of soil for flowering plants. We can also add a few handfuls of coarse river sand to help drain the water. It is also good to add a little well-decomposed flour manure.
On the bottom we create a draining layer with expanded clay.
How and how much to water the Hosta
As we have said, hostas love an always fresh substrate. In the right place it is usually necessary to intervene only during the first summer, so that the plants do not suffer too much before having created a deep root system. Later, let's just make sure that the soil is always fresh, especially in depth. We try to avoid wetting the leaves: this would attract the snails. Furthermore, some glaucous varieties would lose their brilliance.
What is most important for the growth of Hosta is the quality of the soil, which must be rich in organic matter. It is therefore essential, as indicated above, to distribute the soil improver every year. In order to facilitate its spreading and spreading, it is however very useful to spread, at the end of winter, a slow release granular fertilizer, where nitrogen is prevalent on the other macroelements.
These fertilizers can also be used in pots, where it is also possible to opt for a liquid product to be diluted very much and distributed with each irrigation.
Diseases and parasites of Hosta
The most important damage undoubtedly derives from snails and slugs: they are greedy of their leaves and there are plenty of them in spring mornings, just when the first and tender jets are born. To reduce damage we can set up traps filled with beer and insert them into the ground: the gastropods will fall inside.
In case of heavy rains it is strongly recommended to distribute special products.
Other less frequent problems are virosis, quite common in the United States and the United Kingdom, but fortunately almost unknown in Italy. In mountain, wooded or rural areas, it may happen that the leaves become the lunch of roe deer, rabbits, voles and mice.
Propagation and multiplication
It is possible to obtain new plants by division or sowing. This last option is not recommended because it rarely guarantees the maintenance of the peculiar characteristics of the cultivar.
The division is practiced at any time of vegetative growth, although it is preferable to act in spring. The clod is extracted and the parts are divided using two garden forks, inserted back to back. Sometimes the plants are very woody: they must be cut using a spade or a serrated blade. We work by making sure that individual jets remain with roots attached.
How to match the hosta
Hostas are excellent as isolated specimens or on the first or second floor (depending on the size) in borders and flower beds. They can also be used happily in small and large vessels.
We can create excellent combinations with other hostesses, varying sizes and colors. Bello is also creating a rhythm by inserting leaves with different shapes and textures: ferns, grasses, ophiopogon, persicaria, heuchere, alchemilla, coleus, brunnera
Among the flowering plants we point out instead the autumn anemones, the lilies of the valley, the astilbe, the dicentra, the geranium suitable for shade.
There are innumerable varieties of hostas on the market. They can essentially be classified by looking at the coloring of their leaves (uniform, variegated, marginalized) or at their final size.
The colors range from medium green to dark green, to glaucous, to acid green, to yellow. There may be white, golden or green variegations or margins.
For the dimensions we distinguish between small, medium, medium-large and giant.
Here are some of the best known:
August Moon: up to 70 cm, leaves from acid green to yellow.
Austin Dickinson: at most 50 cm, dark green leaves with cream margin.
Aureomarginata: up to 115 cm, heart-shaped leaves, rippled, dark green with a golden edge.
Carnival up to 75 cm, dark green leaves and golden margin.
Fire and Ice: white leaves with green margins, up to 60 cm
Halcyon: creates dense tufts, up to 70 cm high, deep blue green.
Golden: Tiara with rapid growth, up to 73 cm. Green leaves with golden margin: suitable as a ground cover.
Great Expectations it has wavy and concave leaves, green-blue with yellow and white spots. It blooms profusely and resists slashes.
Hostas are plants that are particularly easy to grow and grow quickly, in fact they reach in a few years the