Hosta combinations

candicem81April 2, 2012

Hello all you wonderful hosta gurus! I know absolutely nothing about hostas, however in my research I have found that they are about the only thing that will grow well in my shade garden. I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of hostas out there and am getting massive tired head trying to figure it all out. Basically I have a triangular area (9'3" x 9'6" x 13') and am looking for some hostas to go in there with some helleborus, heuchera, bleeding hearts, and astilbe and have no idea how to decide which hostas to pick! I was wondering if you all might be able to give me a few combinations of hostas that go well together? Thank you so much!

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Here's a small area planted full of Hosta.

But often it works best when you use companion plants for texture with a Hosta. Here's a small Oak Leaf Hydrangea with Celestial.

Here's another example of different textures working together. This is Lakeside Symphony with a perennial (sorry I don't know the name) growing right up through it.

Here's Hosta On Stage with Astilbe.

Take a look on the Gallery side of the forum. You'll see many different combinations of Hostas by themselves and with companions.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Gallery

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 4:07PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

If you're from Dallas, TX, I would suggest you look at the Dallas Arboretum website for a list of hosta that do well here. I would also suggest you visit their gardens to see how they are planted. I would describe it as planted on top of a berm. That's to get the drainage you'll need to get good results. Drainage is critical.

You can achieve the same results that Steve is showing you with a variety that is well suited for our climate. For instance, you might choose Honeybells or Sugar and Cream instead of Celestial for a light green and white hosta. There are hundreds of available hosta. They come in every combination of color and texture. It's likely that you will find one that will do well here in the color, size and texure you want.

For reference, look at the Right under where it says, "hosta library" is a photo gallery of most registered hosta listed alphabetically. Here,, you can find Don R's lists. He keeps lists of each color, size, etc. of hosta. So, if you want a medium sized yellow hosta, just look on his list.

I grow in pots, so can't help you much on growing in the ground.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Candice yes welcome aboard. I just wanted to add be sure you know the mature size of those hostas you decide you like. Some such as Empress Wu can reach heights of 4 foot and more than 6 foot across. Sum & Substance almost as large. Since you have mapped out a specific size I would look at hostas that are mini to mid size especially with wanting to plant other perennials.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Welcome! Have you grown the companions that you listed for very long? I finally gave up on bleeding heart and heuchera here. If there is a secret to growing them, I would love to know. You need June and Regal Splendor no matter what else you choose. They are just too pretty to miss out on.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Hi Mary sorry you haven't had luck with Heucheras and Bleeding Hearts. With the latter they need a lot of water during the growing season. If they dry out they will go dormant and may or may not regrow in the same year. Ahh Heucheras. I had my problems with them also. What I found was they like some sun they are not shade plants and in Texas where you are I would say morning sun no hot afternoon sun. They like to be well watered but then to dry out before watering again. These growing conditions were discovered through trial and error and a few lost plants. Just purchased another 5 today. The only difference between where you are and myself is mainly temperature. The villosa hybrids developed in France are very heat tolerant. What was available before those hybrids were not.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Hi, Mary52. So glad to have another hot-zone gardener aboard.
I finally gave up on heuchera and heucherella here in Mobile last fall. So pretty, so difficult here.

I'm mostly a container gardener of hosta, but I mix the pots in with my flower beds sort of like a New Orleans courtyard. I like to use fancy aspidistra (they come with stripes, not solid green), different leriope, and especially holly ferns. The holly ferns are evergreen in this zone, not sure which part of zone 8 you are, but we just got changed from being zone 8b, so I see no reason the holly fern would not work for you. It grows pretty fast and looks great.

This has the hosta sitting atop an upturned pot between two holly ferns with plain aspidistra in the back, and to the far left some variegated ginger. I border many of my beds with leriope muscari and lay pavers as a 12" wide walkway in many places. Or old bricks.

I'm new to hosta gardening and still exploring the many options, sorry that I cannot advise on plant selections.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:57PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Holly ferns do well here, if you provide decent amounts of water.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 9:56PM
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Thanks! So in reading through several posts I have gathered a few hostas that I kept seeing repeated as people's favorites. Do you think a combo of the following would look good together: June, Sagea, Striptease, Halcyon, Liberty, and Guacamole. I'm going to plant them with a hellebore mix, lungwort (instead of heuchera), astilbe 'visions', some brunnera 'jack frost', and a border of japanese forest grass. I really hope this works and looks good.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

I don't think you could go wrong with that. May I suggest Hachenochloa Aurea, the gold variegated version of Japanese Forest Grass. And a great lungwort is Pulmonaria Tevi Fountain. You might know that June and Halcyon are related (June is a sport of Halcyon) and they look really good next to each other. Sagae will be the largest of these Hosta both in height and width. June and Halcyon will be the smallest. Still it will be easy to create a great design with these plants.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:59PM
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Last question... where is a good place to buy hostas? I am in Dallas. I went to Calloways over the weekend and they onlt had guacamole hostas. Should I order plants on-line? If so, can you recommend a reputable supplier? Thanks! I really appreciate all of your help!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Google "Hallson." They will have all the Hosta on your list. They may also have a few of those companion plants. You won't be disappointed.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Eleven(Metro Detroit 6A)

I think you have a good starter plan, but keep in mind that both Liberty and Sagae will likely get quite large. And while Guacamole isn't normally in the same size league, it does well in the heat and matures faster than they do. You might find yourself out of space rather quickly =)

Also, Astilbe are water hogs even here up north. They need consistent moisture, which might be difficult for you to maintain.

As for sources, I've bought online from Hallson several times and received great plants. I might also try Jim's Hostas, Wade and Gatton, or Naylor Creek this year, if I don't break my hosta budget before then.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 1:10PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

You'll have to buy by mail order. No one has those varieties locally. I was at Northhaven last week, and, of those you've chosen, they only had Guacomole.

Hallson's is the most often lauded supplier by those who post here. I buy some from AAhostas and have been pleased. Others are happy with Naylor's. There are others that people buy from regularly, but those come to mind as solid, quality suppliers.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but you've chosen plants that will be a challenge to grow here. You will need really deep bed preparation with lots of organic matter. Some would suggest that you replace all the soil in your beds to a depth of 18" to be successful with your plan and it still may be too hot for those plants. Drip irrigation would be a plus, as well.

I checked the three local gardening guides for the plants you listed and only astilbe is mentioned in only Dale Groom's book. (He's our county agent.) He says the location has to be dappled shade with good irrigation, as it has to stay moist and will require lots of organic matter.

I hate to see you put all this effort into something that will be so difficult. Call Northhaven Gardens or go over there. (Call on a weekday morning or go over there at an "off" time, like a rainy day. This is their busy season, especially afternoons and weekends.) Tell them your plan and see what they say. They've brought in more plants from other climates than anyone. If it grows well here, they will carry it.

Good luck, whatever you decide. If you plan on doing this this year, you need to get on it, as it will be hot and dry before you know it.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Bkay and other Dallas area folks-

Have you seen the latest edition of the Hosta Journal with several pages devoted to drought ravaged hostas in Dallas?

Fragrant Bouquet looks perfect next to a falling apart Patriot.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 2:51PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

Personally I like to see extreme difference from one hosta to the next. A blue, then a yellow, variegated, etc..

Simple small types like the tiaras look nice around large leafed blue types....

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:41PM
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OK- so after going to the northhaven nursery website and reviewing their list of hostas that grow well in dfw, I have altered my plant list and submitted my my order through Hallson's! Thank you all soooooo much for your help and advice! I did go ahead and keep some of the original hostas because I thought they were so pretty and just thought I would see if they would grow. Here's the final list: Halcyon, June, Francee, Patriot, Liberty, Striptease, Guacamole, Sagae, a couple astilbes (Visions), a mixture of lungwort, a brunnera, and some japanese forest grass. I am planning on putting a dip irrigation hose(s) in the bed to help with keeping the ground nice and moist. Here goes something! Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:10PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


You are going to have to learn to post pictures and show us your work when you've planted it.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:04PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

This has been a fun read. Welcome Candice. I also vote for pictures once you get the garden planted!


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:15PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Candice, I wasn't talking about the hosta. They might do fine, if you do good, deep bed prep. The companion plants were what concerned me. far as the ones you bought, but are not going to use, put them in pots. It's really easy. they look great all spring and into summer. Use a light potting mix that drains well (no moisture control potting soil). Some varieties bloom in the second year, others take longer. But they last forever. I have some I've had for 15 years. I just put them on the patio or deck. They just keep coming back.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:19PM
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This had been a good read. I've gotten several good ideas.
If any you southern gardeners ever get to Oklahoma City there is a nursery there called Bob Scott's. They have a display garden with some outstanding hostas.
Babka, I need to check out that article.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:36PM
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I am another Hosta lover, probably have about 100 around our property due to a lot of shade. On the north side of our house along a walkway, I planted about 14 hostas in 4 different varieties. I would like to mix in some other perennials, but nothing seems to last. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Hi mbarstow,
Have you tried moisture loving Astilbe planted with your hosta? There are many types of ferns like it moist too.

What have you tried that didn't "last" for you? Also, is the area you are referring to in a bright or dappled shade? Part of the problem might be from root competition by the trees or what ever is creating the shade in your yard.

If you could post a photo of the site from last summer, it might help stir folks imaginations for suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 8:38PM
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