What makes hosta so different from other plants?

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)May 8, 2012

Every morning here, I go out with my coffee cup and camera and see how the 'kids' look in the early morning sun.

My DH asked me the other day, "What is it about hosta that you find so different from all the other plants you've grown over the years?" I just looked at him. Ummmm, what would you have said?

Infinite options. Or enough differences in each plant to make it seem possible I will discover a new pot of gold peeking from under a sporty plant.

Who was it said she was all set to grow passifloras until she discovered hosta?

I love a lot of other plants, like the tropicalesque ones, and then jasmine, and roses (although I've never been a dedicated rosarian). These plants are a big part of my garden structure, and I do maintain them, but to have the fascination with them of discovering something new and different--it just isn't there.

In our fair city, for several generations it was a place for men to grow camellias, and they developed quite a lot of named cultivars and grafted plants. Now it is no longer the Men's Camellia Club, just Camellia Club. I love my camellias too, but the two I treasure the most, required recently from Logee's in CT, are two camellia sinensis, the real tea plant. I'm apt to try making tea from the tender new leaves of my other camellias and sasanquas too, but I do not have the sheer excitement of a green surprise leaf on a new hosta.

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jan_on zone 5b

I really love plants, period. But my gardening habits morphed from annuals to perennials when we started spending more and more time away from home in the summer. Then I started weeding out the perennials that bloomed between mid June and mid September and I wasn't there to enjoy them and deadhead them, and they looked rather blah when I was there. That led me to hostas which look great from the moment they sprout until they go dormant, and carry on without supervision all summer. THEN I DISCOVERED THIS FORUM. (Not only that, but they all have great names that I can remember!) I love them, every one.
(well, I haven't yet gotten fond of 'Praying Hands'.)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:13AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I have many favorites including roses, iris and azaleas. I find hosta to be different from just about any other plant grown here. The obvious difference is that the blooms are secondary and I would actually prefer my hosta not bloom at all.

A happily-growing hosta is lush greenery and brings a subtle vitality to my garden. It blends so beautifully into the shady landscape. Hosta, especially those with big, round, drooping foliage, exude a feeling of comfort to me.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:38AM
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They are hard to kill.

They get bigger and better every year.

They grow in shade and sun.

Look great all season.

There is such variety in color, size, and shape.

They are easy to hybridize and grow seeds.

You can grow seedlings in the winter to get your fix year-round.

They look great even without the flowers.

They always like their picture taken.

They don't sulk if you miss a day in the garden.

They let you watch what you want on TV.

They let you have the last donut.

Seeing if you are paying attention and read all the way through......


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:50AM
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They are just better.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:25PM
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The biggest thing IME is that their main attrativeness is foliage which exists from unfurling to fall coloration, and they (should) come back stronger every year.

Then I discovered the absolutely gorgeous deep purple and white flowers of my ventricosa as seen from a toads-eye view, and it was just great icing on a very great cake.

The toads-eye view must have impressed me. (lol) I had almost an hour to study it on March 22nd when the eyes were just popping up. (25 hours to "cast-off")


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:50PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

They're so easy. Stick them in a pot. Water them. Fertilize once in a while. That's it. (Well, this year I've had some critters, but not usually.) They're pretty. They all look somewhat different. Did I mention they're easy?


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:00PM
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Yeah, I noticed they never squabble over the last donut.
I bet you had to think about it for a bit, right? Because it is something which happened naturally and almost overnight.

While I like to think about them making an impressive garden bed or border, each one is outstanding in a container. They can work in containers better than a lot of other plants.

I guess what made my DH ask why did hosta catch my fancy so thoroughly, was because I've been lugging huge bags of potting mix, buying all sorts of pots in all sizes, some very special pots too.

It made me think of the premise in THE BOTANY OF DESIRE about plants which achieve their goals by appealing to other species--like the tulip and the apple were two discussed in the book. With all of us developing a full blown case of addiction to hosta, it makes me wonder what about hosta has affected our brain cells, or imprinted upon us a real NEED to have them. Don't know if I'm clear in expressing this, but if you have not read the book you might find it interesting. Maybe there is a WANT HOSTA VIRUS we are all infected by. Just thinking.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Definitely the yearly improvement is part of their appeal for me. Its so exciting to see them again in the Spring and notice the changes.

The colors and the forms just appeal to me on an aesthetic level more than most other plants. I've only been gardening since 2006, but even before I got the bug, the large blue hosta in front of my inlaws' house always caught my interest. That, and their ferns, which I also love.

It's just one of those things...last summer my 7 year old niece was visiting and she walked by my bank of ferns and stretched out her hand and touch the fronds as she walked by and said, "oooooooooh!". I had to smile- I think we are kindred spirits.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:43PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

For one thing,they last better than flowers,which are gone before you know it;they always return,better than the year before;there are so many different types;you can always find a new one that's different than any you have. Phil

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:47PM
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That's a really good point, Phil. I have some day lilies that bloom for , what, three weeks? All the remaining weeks of the spring and Fall, I have to look at that boring, sometimes downright ugly foliage? Having mostly shade, I rely on Astilbe for most of my flowers. But as soon as astilbe blooms reach "peak", they start to look rather blah, IMO. Literally, you have a day to enjoy peak bloom, unless you're into the dried flower look. The more I think about it, I am amazed EVERYONE isn't crazy about hosta.

I was looking at Liberty today and it struck me that it looked as pretty as a bouquet of flowers.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:12PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

I like the Jungle plant feel to them, and sometimes one leaf can have enough personality to outshine an entire plant ...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i read the whole list.. looking for the one you missed ...

and can you tell me which one that is ..

or any of you ....


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:05AM
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Ken, did they miss "hosta survive if you throw them onto the driveway?" N

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Because they look better every year that passes.
There aren't that many plants, beyond trees and shrubs and peonies that fit into that category. And give me hope for my old age.
Because, like the tree leaves that first emerge in spring, hosta teach you how many variations on the colour green nature can provide. There's lots to look at there if your eye can see it.
Because they are restful and cooling. Our summers are hot here, hot and humid, but walking through the hosta gardens is like taking a dip in cool, cool waters.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:17AM
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I like the way the raindrops bead up on the waxy ones.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:22PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

give that man a tomahawk .. lol ...

yes.. they live on the driveway .. lol


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 3:19PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

In the heat of summer I don't mind weeding in my hosta beds. I can't say the same for the others.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Christine, nice pic.

Ken...and they live on the compost pile and about anywhere I've tossed/culled a seedling.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:34PM
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