This ancient, common shade perennial flower originates from China and Japan. It grows wild in the forested mountains. It's a favorite wild spring edible, collected when the shoots are young and then roasted or sautéed. It didn't reach Europe and United States until the 1800's but now there are thousands of varieties. This shade perennial is the hosta. Hosta is the go-to shade plant for many gardeners. It grows easily with colorful leaves and pink or white flowers.
The key with being happy with your hostas is selection. Choose a hosta variety that will fit the space where you'll be growing it. Varieties range from 6 inches to 3 feet tall. Some have large leaves while others are tiny. The leaf colors include green, blue, yellow and many green, yellow and white variations. Some, such as 'Diana Remembered', have sweetly scented flowers making them excellent as cut flowers. Mix and match hosta with ferns, astilbe, goatsbeard and bugbane and keep the beds well watered.
While we think of hosta as a shade plant, some varieties tolerate full sun. The best varieties for sun have thick or ruffled leaves such as 'Sum and Substance'. Fragrant varieties and variegated yellow varieties also tolerate sun, but will still need some shade for the hot afternoon sun.
Slugs love hostas as much as we do. To ward them off, place beer traps around hostas, mulch plants with raw sheep's wool, or choose varieties slugs don't like such as 'Blue Angel' and 'Halcyon'. Deer don't mind eating any hosta. Apply scent-based repellents, such as Plant Skydd, early in the season to deter them.