Mini hostas

valtorrez(6b)March 14, 2010

I have a raised flower bed built into the ground of my paver patio which is 9 inches wide and 11 inches deep. This flower bed is on the north side of house and gets little sun. Last year I planted the feathery type of coleus in this bed and that got very tall but leggy I guess due to lack of sun. Do you think the mini hostas would work in this area. I saw them last year at nursery but had not considered this idea at that time. Also I would like to companion them in this bed with coleus but not the feathery type but the type with the nicely colored leaves. What do you think?

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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

I think minis would be sweet there. The coleus might actually get too big, though and overwhelm the hosta. Maybe something more delicate that would spill over the edges of the planter?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 10:20AM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

If you're new to mini hosta, you should consider that they need a little extra TLC.... they absolutely cannot dry out.

And because of their small tender growth, they are magnets for rabbits and dear.

In case you cannot tell, minis are NOT my favorite. However, there are lots of small hosta that are great!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 1:28PM
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What sort of extra TLC? I thought that would be a good idea because besides mini hosta I cant think of anything elso to go in such a narrow flower bed in the shade. Maybe I should just keep that flower be as a place I plant annuals. Anybody have any luck with mini's? I saw then last year and they cost just as much if not more than the regular size hostas. I'm not worried about rabbits or deer. Rabbits don't come that far into yard.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 6:44PM
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dhaven(z5 IA)

valtorrez: There are a great many minis that thrive with no extra care at all. Below is a response to an earlier question on minis as edgers. While you aren't planning to use the minis as edgers, the general information should be useful. I grow well over 100 different varieties of minis, and almost all of them are hardy, tough little plants. The deer and rabbits don't bother them at my place, being too busy eating all the larger hostas. Possible companion perennials for your area would include some of the smaller ferns and heuchera, tiarella, variegated Solomon's Seal, dwarf astilbes, fern leafed bleeding heart, dwarf columbine, forget me nots, dwarf goat's beard, woodland phlox, trillium, virginia bluebells, and many of the native woodland plants. Many perennial bulbs will also do well in shade, including Siberian squill, Puschkinia, crocus, grape hyacinth, Spanish Bluebells, snowdrops, oxalis, corydalis, and most violets. As you can see, there is enough choice here that you can have something in bloom most of the summer, and attractive foliage all summer.

If you want to grow annuals in the area as well, dwarf coleus, impatiens of all sizes, torenia, and begonias are all good choices. Many other annuals will grow in shade, but won't bloom as heavily as they would in sun.

Here is the earlier posting, which also included a request for minis that would do well in sun.
I love minis as edgers, and use quite a lot of them. One problem I foresee with your plan is that if you use only one variety, it's going to grow differently in the three different areas you have. Golden Tiara, for example, will be a lighter green with a parchment colored edge in full sun, darker green with a bright gold edge in full shade, and somewhere in between in the partially shaded area. The height of the plants can also be affected, as well as the rate of increase. You might consider using three different varieties for this project if any of these factors would be a concern to you.
As far as sun resistance, Golden Tiara will grow in full sun, as will Emerald Tiara, Jade Sceptor, Grand Tiara, Golden Sceptor, and Diamond Tiara, although DT will have a bit of edge burn the first year or two if not kept well watered. Avoid Platinum Tiara for full sun, as it will burn, but it's fine in about 3/4 sun.

Lancifolia is a much maligned plant (strictly because it's an old, classic variety) that is a perfect edger if you are looking for a medium sized plant. It is one of the few hostas that can be planted in a nice serpentine row and with a year or two of growth, show a solid wall of plants, without any demarkation between the individual plants. Mature Lancifolia will reach 15-18 inches tall and clump out to 18-24 inches. Pacific Blue Edger is another medium sized plant that makes a good larger edger, with a mature height of 16-18 inches and a spread of 36 inches.

In the mini to slightly larger size, there are quite a few choices for your situation. Some of the ones I have used or seen as edgers are listed below, in no particular order.

Allen P. McConnell will take full sun to full shade, grows fast, and forms very attractive clumps. It's readily available, reasonably priced, and looks good all season. Slugs will eat this one, but it's not a slug magnet, and the use of Diatomaceous Earth will keep the slugs at bay.

Kabitan is one of my favorite smaller hostas, and I use it for a border plant as well as a specimen, and have it tucked all over my gardens. It's a fast grower, looks good all season, and will take full sun. It's got somewhat thin substance, but the slugs don't seem to be partial to it.

Baby Bunting is a nice blue/green mini, very hardy and a nice grower, and will take lots of sun if given plenty of water. This is one that I've not seen any slug damage on in any of the gardens that have it.

Little Wonder is another of my favorites, a super grower under almost any conditions, widely available and very reasonably priced. It looks great all season, and is a very classy little mini. It also has very attractive dark purple flowers.

Lemon Lime makes an excellent edger, with masses of attractive flowers. It will grow in full sun if given lots of water, and it's very fast to clump up.

Gold Edger is a bit larger, topping out around 10-12 inches, and it's completely sun tolerant, not attractive to slugs, and attractive all season. Again, I know a source that still has a bunch of this, email if interested.

Venusta would be a good option if you like really tiny hostas--mine tops out at about 4 inches, but grows like a weed and is very hardy under all conditions. It will take full sun to full shade.

Feather Boa is another very small mini, quite hardy and a good grower. It will take full sun if kept well watered. Easy to find and reasonably priced, too.

Blue Mouse Ears is a lovely edger, and it will grow in full sun, but will lose it's coloration fairly quickly in the spring. Green Mouse Ears might be a better choice. Neither of these is very quick to increase, so the cost of buying a large number initially might be more than you want to spend.

Wylde Green Cream will grow to about 10-14 inches and makes a nice slightly larger edger. It will take full sun, but is somewhat more attractive to slugs than some of the other varieties. Very pretty in a mass planting, though.

Lakeside Elfin Fire will take lots of sun, if watered well, and it is a beautiful edger. Almost too beautiful, as the one place I've seen it used as an edger, it got all the attention and the hostas planted behind it were overlooked. A bit pricy as well, but definitely worth the money.

Saishu Jima is a unique small hosta that makes a terrific edger. It grows like a weed, tolerates full sun to full shade, and looks great all season.

Golden Spades is a lovely edger, very bright and showy. It will easily take full sun. It is an average grower, and might not be easy to find, but it's worth looking if you like a bright yellow.

Lakeside Zinger is a good edger with an interesting, more upright growth habit. It has crisp white margins, seems to be quite prone to sport or streak, and grows well in full sun to full shade. Readily available, quick to increase, and reasonably priced.

Thunbergiana is a wonderful edger in a slightly larger size. It has small, elongated, ruffled leaves, and grows to about 14 inches high. Very fast to increase, grows anywhere, and is very hardy. Also has nice flowers.

Little Razor is a great edger, with a very different look to the upright foliage. It's hardy, likes lots of sun but will grow in full shade, and is quick to increase.

Fair Maiden is one of my favorite edgers. It has a low, slightly spreading habit and beautiful coloration. It will take full sun only if mulched and watered deeply and often--otherwise it will burn. Slugs don't seem to like this one, possibly because it has somewhat thicker leaves than some hostas.

Abby is a wonderful small hosta with subtle coloration and a very nice growth rate. It makes a fabulous edger in full sun to full shade, isn't a slug favorite, and looks good all season. It's very reasonably priced and widely available.

Blue Cadet is a classic edger, a good grower and slug resistant. It will lose the blue coloration fairly quickly in full sun, but is still attractive as a dark green plant.

Dark Star is a larger plant, growing perhaps 12-14 inches tall and spreading to 18-20 inches, but it makes an outstanding edger if you have the room. It increases quite rapidly, looks good all season, will take full sun to full shade, and it reasonably priced. It is somewhat slug resistant.

Dragon Tails is a very cute mini with great plant habit, nice coloration, and good growth. It will take full sun to full shade, although the coloration will be slightly different under different conditions. Still new enough to be a bit pricy for a mass planting, but it would make a gorgeous border.

Lemon Delight is the reverse of Twist of Lime, and a much tougher plant than TOL. It will take full sun, increases very quickly, and looks good all season. A super hardy little mini that would make a nice edger.

Sherbourne Swift is a very pretty small blue that will tolerate full sun and is slug resistant. It will green up more quickly in sun, but still looks good all season. A bit hard to find, but worth looking for.

Veronica Lake or Pearl Lake are good edgers. Both very hardy, quick to increase, look good all season, and will take full sun to part shade. Both are fairly easy to find and reasonably priced.

Special Gift is a very old hosta that isn't widely available, but it makes a beautiful edger. It is about 10 inches tall, with grey-green leaves, grows very quickly, and looks great all season. It's slug resistant and will take full sun to full shade without noticeable changes in the appearance of the plant. Floradora is a somewhat similar plant that is another older variety.

There are many others that would also work, but these are a few of the ones I grow that make especially good edging plants.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 9:00PM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

Maybe some bacopa (hope I'm spelling it right lol) to spill over the edge? It's an annual but it look gorgeous with those small white flowers spilling out all over the place.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 6:26AM
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Dhaven, I did not know there was so many mini's. I only saw blue mouse ears at a nursery here in the city. I guess I'm going to have to drive around and look for other nurseries. I need the mini's that can do full shade due to this flower bed being on back patio with the covered carport blocking most sun. Did you order your mini's from a catalog?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 8:09AM
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dhaven(z5 IA)

valtorrez: Last year I bought minis from Naylor Creek, Webwalkway (local), and Lakeside Hostas, adding around 20 new varieties of minis to my collection. I have collected minis for years, so I also split my mature clumps and start them in more areas of my garden. That list is just a small selection of what I grow, there are many, many more available. Check out the websites at and for more options, complete with pictures and descriptions. If you like Blue Mouse Ears, there is now a whole family of Mouse Ears, including Frosted Mouse Ears, Holy Mouse Ears, Mighty Mouse, Snow Mouse, Green Mouse Ears, Royal Mouse Ears, and several others. If I was going to recommend three minis to get you started, I would suggest Blue Mouse Ears, Kabitan, and Little Wonder. That would give you a nice range of colors, leaf shapes, and plant habit. If you wanted two more, I would suggest Dragon Tails and Venusta. All of these are great growers, very hardy, attractive, and would look wonderful together.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 9:15PM
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I have never used What size of plants do they send? Divisions? TC's?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 6:01AM
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Yardmom, I had the same question. I have no idea how to plant/grow divisions/ tc's. I've only planted whole plants. When you order does anyone send plants or is it always divisions?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 11:07AM
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valtorrez, they can come as tiny tc's that have small root structures and often need extra care the first season, or they may have been growing at a nursery for a few seasons and have developed a strong root system and have a few 'eyes' or growing points. Divisions (a mature plant divided) usually have good root systems as well. Depends where you buy from. The small tc's are usually less money, but not always.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 6:50PM
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dhaven(z5 IA)

Webwalkway is not doing any mail order this year (at least that's the plan for now), however, there are quite a number of people on this forum who shop there, and I usually help out at her sales, so it's possible to get plants selected from her sales and mailed by someone else (like me). On older varieties, especially minis, her plants are more than generous, and the prices are excellent. The brand new varieties will be tc starts, however, she seldom gets the really little ones, rather plants that are a single division, but with a year's growth on it.

The rule of thumb when buying hostas from any seller is to ask in advance exactly what size the plants will be. Even when buying a number of plants from a single seller, the size of the plant sent will vary. Newer varieties will likely be a single division, but that division may vary in size from very small to quite large. Most hosta sellers buy small tc plants and grow them out for at least a year or two, and obviously a 2 or 3 year old division will be larger and have better roots than a 6 month old tc start, even if it's still a single division.

Many sellers also have their own gardens full of mature hostas, and dig much of what they have to sell directly from their own garden. These varieties will almost always be double divisions, sometimes larger, and should have very nice root systems. Of course, these will be varieties that have been around long enough to grow into mature plants, so you won't find the latest, newest hostas being sold this way. But there are a great many classic hostas that have been around quite some time, and it's fairly easy to find nice pots with mature multiple divisions of hundreds of varieties.

I do not recommend tiny tc starts for anyone who hasn't had some experience with hostas or with growing tiny starts in general. They tend to be rather expensive, a bit touchy to get going really well, and they certainly don't look like much when they arrive. Imagine paying $15-20 (or much more) for a hosta and getting a tiny plant with one leaf the size of your thumbnail--that is not uncommon with the first year tc plants. These little tiny starts will, if given proper care, grow just fine, but most people prefer to receive a larger plant that already has a good root system. If you do purchase tc tinies, give them a sheltered area in at least half shade with very well amended soil, and expect to wait anywhere from 4-10 years for a nice mature clump, depending on the variety. You will need to keep the little tc starts very well watered and checked daily.

Keep in mind that when you purchase a hosta, you are really buying the roots, not the foliage. If you can see the plant in person, ask to see the roots. A reputable seller will not hesitate to up end a potted plant to show you that the root system is good. Of course, some varieties have smaller roots than others, and there are minis with absolutely huge root systems, such as Blue Mouse Ears, and giant hostas with comparatively small root systems. What is important is that the roots look adequate for the size of the plant being sold, and that they are healthy. Again, if you are buying via mail order from a dealer with whom you are not familiar, ask specifically about the size of the root system on the plants you intend to purchase.

Reputable hosta sellers will give you reliable answers concerning what they are selling, and will also stand behind their plants. I've sold hostas via email for years, and guaranteed all my plants, and have only once had to replace plants. On that occasion the person left the box of miniature hostas in the Texas sun for 6 days, and needless to say, the plants died. But in general hostas are very tough little critters, and they ship well, so don't hesitate to order via email if you are satisfied that you have found a reputable seller. There aren't really all that many top notch local hosta sellers around, so many of us don't have the luxury of being able to shop in person, and mail order opens up a much broader range of available plants. I also recommend that your first order from any seller should be a relatively small one. That way, you can see for yourself what the plants are like before putting in a larger order.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 10:28PM
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Another thing to do would be to look up the Hosta Society in your area. I am president of the one here in west Pa, and we sell hostas to raise the funds for our activities. If the local society does not sell hostas, perhaps members of the society do. At least it would be a good source of information.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:05AM
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Speaking of minis... about when should I expect to see some sprouting? I planted carrie-ann in late fall.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 8:10AM
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Here in Zone 5a, MOST of my hostas come up between Apr. 20-29. However, the different varieties come up on their own schedules according to their species. The ones that come up last are the ones least likely to be lost to a late frost. Don't rush them to come up; don't take off the mulch/leaves yet. Let them come up on their own timeframe.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I found a hosta society here in St. Louis, got their website and found they were having a sale in June. I wonder if I should call them. I thought the best time to plant was in early spring.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Thanks Char--will do :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 5:11PM
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dhaven(z5 IA)

valtorrez: Hostas can be planted from the time the ground thaws until at least Labor Day. Some people plant until October, but I prefer to get the plants settled and allow the roots to take hold, so usually cut of planting September 1st.

Your local hosta society sale would be an excellent place to buy hostas. Also a great place to meet hosta people and ask any questions that may be specific to your area. You might want to consider joining the group as well, which will usually get you invited on various garden tours and to hosta lectures. Don't be shy about telling people that you would love to see their hosta gardens--many people who grow hostas are delighted to let someone tour their gardens, and it's a wonderful way to get ideas and growing tips. My local hosta society is quite large, with about 130 members, and we have people drive in from 3 states to attend meetings, sales, and garden tours. We also have a number of hybridizers in the club, and it's particularly interesting to see their gardens and hear their thoughts on hostas.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 5:58PM
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