Hostas have always been useful perennials for shade gardens, especially very cold gardens.

This is perhaps why, over the years, hundreds of hybrids have been developed from the different species originating from the East. Hostas are exceptionally hardy, and they grow in shade and difficult places where other flowering plants seldom flourish. To these excellent traits you can add their tropical-looking, colourful foliage and delicate flowers.

Hostas began to lose popularity because of their attractiveness to snails and slugs. Unfortunately, these pests really can demolish an entire plant overnight, but if you make a little effort to control them, it is definitely worthwhile planting hostas.

Commercial growers who specialise in perennials still cultivate hostas in our country and, according to the experts, Hosta ‘Yellow Spot’ is one hybrid that has adapted especially well to South African growing conditions. Hosta ‘Yellow Spot’ is low growing (about 30 x 30 cm) with pretty green and gold variegated leaves. It forms ever increasing clumps of lush, variegated leaves, and is ideal for lending colour to ‘dark’ areas in the garden. The plants are completely dormant in winter, but with the arrival of spring new foliage appears rapidly. At that stage the leaves are extremely susceptible to damage from snails and slugs, and gardeners need to take preventive measures immediately.

When do Hostas bloom?

During summer the plants produce flower stems that grow up to 40 cm tall, with mauve to purple blooms that contrast beautifully with the variegated foliage.

Most suitable climate

Hostas flourish in cool to very cold climates with lots of rain in summer.

What Hostas need

Location: shade, but they don’t like to compete with tree roots so rather grow them in large pots placed beneath the trees.
Soil: rich, loamy soil.
Water: water very regularly throughout spring and summer, because the soil needs to be kept moist. Don’t water in winter when they are dormant.
Fertilizing: when the plants are actively growing, feed every month using a fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potassium.

Get more value

Divide large, mature clumps during late autumn or early spring.

Some of our favourites

  • Hosta ‘Golden Anniversary’ has light green leaves with yellow centres. Mature size about 40 x 40 cm.
  • Hosta ‘Big Daddy’ has round heart-shaped grey-green leaves. Mature size about 60 x 60 cm.
  • Hosta undulata var. univittata has dark green leaves with creamy centres. Mature size about 35 x 35 cm.
  • Hosta ‘Yellow Spot’ is prized for its lovely green and gold variegated leaves. During early summer the plants produce flower stems that grow up to 40 cm tall, with mauve to purple blooms that contrast strikingly with the richly variegated foliage.

Growing zones for South Africa

Winter rainfall regions: Will grow in the cooler parts of this region where high rainfall is experienced. Water regularly during the summer season.

Dry, arid regions: Not suitable for dry, arid regions because it requires moist, damp soils through the spring and summer season.

Sub-tropical, summer rainfall regions: Hostas are not suitable for this climatic region as they do not cope with the extreme summer heat and humidity.

Temperate, summer rainfall or Highveld regions: Excellent plant for this climatic zone. Best in light shade where soils remain cool and damp through spring and summer.

In a nutshell

  • Extremely cold hardy.
  • Colourful foliage for shade.
  • Require lots of water during summer.
  • Control slugs and snails to prevent severe damage.
The Gardener