How does this lineup sound?

esther_bMay 25, 2014

After much research, I have come up with what I think is a good lineup for the hostas/heuchies under my Brooklyn friend's 2 large ball-shaped bushes. She is not (yet) a hostaperson, and so is somewhat balking at the prices of hostas. She is used to the inexpensive annuals prices. Jim's Hostas has all the hostas I decided on, but they are $1-3 more expensive on every hosta. New Hampshire hosta has all but one of the lineup, but offer several only as "starter plugs". Made in the Shade has all but 2 of the proposed lineup.

My concept is to have mostly golden hostas paired with orange/red heuchies for a real "pop" under the bushes, plants which will stand out from the shade. We will do our usual annuals in the planters atop the brick porch wall and on either side of her porch steps.

Proposed hosta lineup under Bush #1 (has a slightly larger circumference of about 150"): Golden Needles/heuchie Midas Touch/Rainbow's End/heuchie Paprika/Rainforest Sunrise/heuchie Peach Flambe/Extasy/heuchie Rio/Paradise Island

Proposed hosta lineup under Bush #2 (120" circumference): Smiley Face/heuchie Vienna/Ripple Effect/heuchie Rio/Remember Me/heuchie Midas Touch/Appletini

I would like to know:

1. What do you think of the proposed hostas? Any suggestions or substitutes?

2. Which vendor do you consider the best and why?

3. What do you think about the "starter plugs"?

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Gesila(MI Z5)

Love the lineup with the exception of Ripple Effect. I don't like Ripple Effect on the ground. I have mine in a planter box, somewhere in the garden.

I've bought 10 or so starter plugs. They'll take about 2 to 3 years to look halfway decent. I have a special attachment to the them, since I raised them from infancy!


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:10AM
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My friend is only used to annuals, and only used to gardening at all because I introduced her to planting things about 10 years ago. She is not a particularly knowledgeable gardener or one who would look things up. She's a very busy professional with a large family. This is why I want to set her up with some strong contenders that she won't have problems with up front. I have Ripple Effect in the ground and haven't seen any particular problems with it. If you can suggest a substitute that's mostly gold and less than 18" in diameter, I'm all ears. So, if watered regularly and put in to properly prepared soil, starter plugs could work for her if she's aware they won't look spectacular for a couple of years? I think she'd rather spend the few extra bucks to get decent grown specimens then. See, it's a balance between her pocketbook and results.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:20AM
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mary4b(4b WI)

Myself, I'd put more $ into the hostas and buy smaller heuchies, wait for them to go on sale or give her some divisions of something from my own garden. Liners really don't always do that well in the ground...I have put a lot of them in the ground and they haven't done very well. Many hostas need that step up approach where you put the liner in a 3" pot, then a 4 or 5" pot, etc. Believe me, I have liners that I put in the ground more than 5 years ago and MOST of them only have a single leaf or two eyes, at best. I am going to dig them out this summer and do the stepping up. It was an experiment for me, and I did learn something.

Also, could you not convince her that the hostas will save her $ in the end.

On the design, it would be very helpful to know what the shrubs are. In general, I am not fond of the "circling" a tree or shrub, and every other one on the plants is also not very helpful to the eye, as the eye has no place to stop. Are these shrubs viewed from every angle, or just from the drive approach, or perhaps a certain spot in the yard? I might put 1-2 beautiful hostas in the "view" area of the shrub, plus ONE matching heuchie cultivar on both shrubs if they are near each other. I would definitely repeat some of the same cultivars under each shrub if they are viewed together. Where the shrubs can't be seen, perhaps a ground cover that won't compete, or something lush, like lancifolia....which btw, has a huge benefit of looking nice most of the season because it doesn't bloom until Sept. Plus, you could probably get lanci for free. Or, perhaps you have some ground cover that you could share with her?

Regarding hosta selection. If you have a non-hosta person, she might respond more to vigorous, healthy hostas that get big fast. I don't know all of the ones you selected, but for instance, I believe that Rainbow's End is known to give a lot of people problems...not coming back, I believe?

How about choosing hostas that are known to do well that everyone loves (and often cheaper)....for instance: Guacamole, Elegans, June, August Moon.
If those are too about something in the Tiara line like Grand Tiara or Emerald Tiara along with Halcyon and/or Blue Cadet...and maybe an August Moon thrown in somewhere for a bit of size?

One more thought about size selections: if I were a non-hosta person, I'd rather have a large leaf hosta like Guac/Elegans that has some punch to it, and when it gets too big for the space, I could shovel out a few eyes and put them somewhere else, in a pot to accent my annuals, or give to a friend. 99% of people who don't "collect" hostas are used to dividing hostas when they get too big for a space. Nothing wrong with that.

We all have different gardening taste, and she will probably be happy with whatever you choose.

One vendor who has very good prices on the more common hostas like I've mentioned is: Northern Grown Perennials
These are field grown hostas and likely to be larger than TC grown. Also, you can call them and they will send you a double plant if they have you could get some immediate impact.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Grown Perennials

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 7:34AM
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Myself - I would never purchase liners either - time is not on my side for that - and I love the description of "vigorous" attributed to hosta. I'm waiting for Ripple Effect - but will put mine in the ground and wait for the results.

Heuchies and hosta are a nice combination. I went with Astilbe and two types of groundcover - a small variety of sedum stonecrop and ajuga which can easily be removed if they get out of hand, and a few day lilies.

The nice thing is that you can always rearrange your plantings for best effect. A lot of us have Guacamole for its large, fragrant flowers.

My all time favorite place to purchase hosta is Sebright Gardens.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:10PM
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Thank you so much for your informing me about a new vendor! Someone I'd never heard of before! Yours are the very points I mentioned to my friend about costs. With annuals, you pay good money and they are there for 1 season. With hostas and heuchies, they might cost more up front, but they are there for years. Your bigger suggestions are not good for her yard, which is very very small. A single Madame Wu would take up her whole yard! You could cut her grass with a hand clipper, I'll bet. A typical Brooklyn postage-stamp-sized lawn.

The hostas and heuchies could be seen from most any angle except for the back which I would not plant. The bush on the left has about 75% of its circumference plantable, while the bush on the right has about 50% of its circumference plantable. I chose the gold/chartreuse colored hostas and loud colored heuchies to shine forth from the tree-shaded lawn and from their spot a bit under the ball-shaped bushes. I chose the smaller sized hostas so that she would not have to do anything like divide them for several years, while she improves on her hosta expertise.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:21PM
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bragu_DSM 5

liners are not for newcomers to hostas. It could turn them off after the first winter. You could probably handle a liner, or plug, but it will take extra care and time. Blue Mouse ears would be a nice addition to the list. I pair mine with ... wait for it ... Green Cheese.

Personal observation here, several of the varieties you list are/can be touchy. Golden Needles, Remember Me and even, yes, Rainforest Sunrise have been less than reliable here in Z5 for me. Appletini is a wonderful choice. Note: you could plant that UNDER a towering blue for wonderful contrast. Krossa Regal is a slower grower. I use blue arrow with lemon lime at its base. You might think of mounding hostas such as Allan P McConnell or My Marrianne or even one of don's Guacomole (not a mounter) for ease of maint.

Can't go wrong with the heuchie mix/choices. I like Alabama Sunrise, might be a heucherella. Check out the adjacent Heuchie forum, a lot of us are there too ...

thanks for reading

dave b

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:02PM
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Dear Dave B (bragu),

I have had great luck with Remember Me (stunning, absolutely stunning) and Rainforest Sunrise for the past 2 years, which is why I put them in the proposed lineup. Appletini has done well for me this year as well. Do not even consider Krossa Regal for this yard! It would take up the whole yard! Guacamole is also too large for the space.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:28PM
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bragu_DSM 5

okay, those I listed are because they have been in Z5 ... because you are Z7 that may make all the difference.

Krossa is a slow grow, the sleep, creep, leap cycle takes at least 5 years (here, again in Z5).

Rainforest Sunrise is an absolutely stunning plant, if you can get it to overwinter , which is my (probably isolated) problem. I am in a re-zoned 5A, in the middle of a formerly Z5, and some maps Z5B ... I don't nec. agree with the new zone maps, although for the most part seem accurate ...


bragu *dave b*

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 5:25PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)


I also think the wavy leaves of Ripple Effect would be too much with the Heuchies.

Dave Suggested Appletini:

How about Little Aurora:

I also have Cheatin Heart and Blonde Elf. Limey Lisa is a really fast grower.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 5:46PM
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See, Gesila, this is EXACTLY why I brought this project to the forum. For the ol' "2 heads are better than 1" effect. Appletini is on my original list in the lineup. I guess I thought of Ripple Effect because I have it and it's gold so it would show up well in the darkness of the shade. I sort of think Little Aurora, as pretty as it is, is too similar to Appletini. It also gets too big (35"). What I'm trying to do here is showcase the wonderful variety of hostas while keeping to a unifying theme of being mostly gold (some with a bit of green) and having pretty broad leaves to really show off that gold.

Do you have any other small gold broad-leaved suggestions as an alternative to Ripple Effect? My Appletini has been doing great in the 18" ceramic pot. The also-gold First Mate has had a very slow growth rate for the past 2 years, so I'm not even considering it.

What about Coconut Custard? It only gets about 12" in diameter and it's pretty.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 10:47PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

Esther, I don't think Little Aurora will get 35", I think more around 18" to 20".

I think Coconut Custard is a great choice. Here's mine. It's not fully leafed out in this picture yet, I just got it last year.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:03PM
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It's 2:32 a.m. and here I am at the computer. Why, one may ask. Because some satan-cursed idiot is keeping the entire neighborhood awake by blasting some atrocious mixture of reggae and salsa. The police are hunting down this idiot as I type, but the music keeps blasting. A VERY unusual occurrence for this neighborhood. If I caught them, I have a whole panoply of garden implements to try out on their head and sound equipment!

Gesila, I think your Coconut Custard is beautiful, whether it's fully leafed out or not. I think it would go very nicely with the other gold and gold/green hostas I chose.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 2:48AM
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