Which hosta can take the most sun?

dublinbay z6 (KS)July 21, 2013

I'm looking for the most sun-loving hosta for a difficult spot on the edge of my property which gets blazing hot sun late in the day and tends to burn the leaves. Most of the day that spot is in shade and semi-shade/dappled sun. At the moment I have a Gold Standard there, but that late sun is just destroying it.

Maybe the spot is impossible and I should just give up on a hosta in that spot. It is just that I have so few spots for hosta and was trying to take advantage of any open spot I could find. West and north sides of my yard are covered in maple trees--almost nothing grows under those giants (sure is cool there, however). East side, which consists of a narrow strip between my driveway and my neighbor's driveway, is dominated by two giant oak trees and it is almost impossible to dig a planting hole in that area, what with all the tree roots. Back yard is wide open to the sun and filled with roses, so there is just a small area on the southwest side of the house where I can grow my ten hostas--minus one if I can't find a sun-lover for that one spot.

Please remember that in my zone 6 (Kansas), that July-August sun is HOT--like we can have temps in the 90s to 105 during most of that time.

Appreciate any suggestions. Maybe I should quit trying to do the impossible. : (


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

quit trying to do the impossible

==>> i believe you answered your own question... mostly because you knew the answer .... before you started...

i think... part of you problem.. might be that is doesnt cool down enough at night.. to give the plant time to recover from the onslaught of the day ... but that is guessing ...

all that said.. an ESTABLISHED SS might work.. but if it cant get enough water to prosper.. it will also crisp in the heat of summer


    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Lived in zone 6--NW & central Oklahoma for many years. In the spot that you describe, I would suggest a dwarf yaupon holly (shrub) or a heat-loving annual like vinca or globe amaranth (gomphrena globosa). Gomphrena thrives on heat and has low moisture requirements...and it will grow nicely in part day sun. Neither were ever bothered with insects to include red spider mites! I'm particularly fond of the purple 'Buddy' gomphrena...shorter, more compact growth habit over the standard version. The purple, pink & white mix is nice, too.

Or maybe a daylily? Being familar with your climate, I don't think there is a hosta that will take those kind of brutal conditions. It's not just the heat but, being next to a driveway, you have a big heatsink, too.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:15AM
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idiothe(4 MN)

I'd skip the sun spot and figure out how to plant in those difficult shade locations.

Large containers or spin-out bags could help under the maples... I've also wondered about using something like the spun-out material on the bottom of a raised bed, with the copper side facing down to prevent invasion of the maple roots. I've seen people build berms of soil under maples - doesn't seem to bother the maples, but the roots will immediately move up into the new soil

Many oaks can be damaged by covering too much of their roots... I'm told even a few inches of soil can "smother" oak roots. But for that strip, how about building large planters... or several half-barrels with the bases removed for better drainage... for that oak strip.

The other concern is wind... hot Kansas wind can do almost the same thing to hostas as sun does. Big-leafed water lovers can have a real issue with wind robbing the moisture from the leaves.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:53AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Thank you, everyone, for your responses.

I guess I better give up planting a hosta in the "sunspot." Daylilies aren't my favorite flower, but maybe I can find an interesting one for that spot.

idiothe--I really appreciate your suggestions. I'll ponder those possibilities and maybe by next spring, I'll have lots of good ideas for my 'problem shade' areas.

The good news, as far as planting ONE MORE HOSTA, is that I found an empty spot on the east side of the house. It used to be a hotspot (I've lived here for 35 years), but I just realized that the oaks on the other side of the driveway have grown large enough that they help shade the empty spot somewhat (the house also shades the spot later in the day). So now I'm trying to pick ONE HOSTA--I want a bigger one. Liberty and Paradigm are the choices I'm looking at at the moment.

If anyone else has clever ideas on how I might grow hosta in those problem areas, feel free to add more information here. : )


    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 12:13PM
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A couple of days ago, I moved my lovely Bette Davis Eyes, a fragrant flowered hosta, into more sun. She is about to bloom. Well, the next morning, I moved her to a less exposed spot, because it only took one afternoon to cook her leaves.

Here is the picture I took yesterday, with the leaves already tissue paper crispy. Poor baby.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Ken, I respectfully disagree about s&S. I have a couple well established Parhelions and here is what about an hour or two of last weeks direct 99 degree sun and hot wind did to one of the leaves. And I water this area daily!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Kate, I have a September Sun growing in about the worst spot possible. It is in a corner between a blacktop driveway, and a sidewalk. It is in full sun and I think it is indestructable.

I am in MN so we don't have the heat you do, but I am amazed how well this plant does. This spring we had an unbelievable amount of rain, and it looks even better than usual. It does burn out a little in the heat, but I have discovered if I water it, that really doesn't happen. I know, I am supposed to water it, but I rarely do.

I don't know how many times I have removed half of this plant, and by the next year, it is just as huge as it was to start with.

I have a Gold Standard nearby that doesn't get half the sun, and it is always fried to a crisp. We have had a lot of hot weather in the last few weeks, and the September Sun looks great. I think if it gets a little water, it can really stand the sun

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 10:31AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Thanks for the suggestion, Jamie. I will look into that one.

Right now I'm trying to figure out where I could plant a star trek group: Capt Kirk, Vulcan, Dark Star. That should be a fun group for my son (non-gardener) to enjoy-- like I read some posters did for their nongardening family members.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 6:57PM
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Maybe next year, my Stargate hosta will look good enough to be shown. It is a streaker, one from Van Wade, that I bought at Avalon Acres. Fragrant too, need I add that? :)

It could look fine with your Star Trek hosta theme, right?

I plan to use it for next year, as the first hosta to be seen as one enters the garden through a new "stargate" into this alternate universe. I discovered that with twilight, the sand dollar stepping stones purchased from Lowes (they weight a TON, and are quite large), get a lavender glow about them. I had watered the Back40, the first time I noticed this illusion. I think it comes with the time of day, but having it cooled down via the twinkling water droplets everywhere, the lavender just made it awesome. I'm also moving the bistro table and some citronella candles into the center of the space, where we can open a bottle of bubbly, tour the undulating aisles through the garden, and remain skeeter free...relatively speaking of course.

I discovered that two of my hosta cannot take afternoon sun, at least not without long conditioning. One is Bette Davis Eyes, it was a crispy critter quickly! And then the new guy with such beautiful white in its leaves, I thought might need more sun, and took it away from its friend Mardi Gras (similarly colored), but Living Waters was bad off after one afternoon too. I think I caught both of these in time.

However, the species smaller plantaginea plants, like the ones that spent all spring in the sun, and are now still in the sun, they are spry as can be, and even have short scapes. I think it possible to get the species plant, introduce it in the cooler part of the year to its growing spot, and see if this is your experience too. I mean, here in zone 9a, it might not be a desert climate kind of heat, but it is a very humid place with long hot afternoons. Of course, most of my hosta get a good bit of water, either from rain or from the hose. Our city water supply smells of chlorine, so there must be a lot of the chemical in the water my hosta all get.

Let your target hosta acclimate to the direct sun and the heat, starting early in the year. That's what I think has kept mine from frying.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 7:27PM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

Moc.... if you're going to grow in full sun, you simply cannot shock a hosta by immediately moving it into sun. The leaves, even if a more sun tolerant variety, WILL cook.

Even in my Minnesota latitude, All of the hostas I moved to an all-sun location were cooked within a few days, the year I moved them.

The following year, they were great, because they acclimated to the sun as they were emerging.

Alas, you are still in Alabama and your sun is more direct. But even here in MN, I wouldn't be able to do what you did and have a hosta not scorch.

Jamie... In KS, because of your latitude and heat, you will have a harder time with hosta in sun. That said, you could try a few that I've had good luck with in my front garden.... Royal Standard, Fried Bananas, Fried Green Tomatoes, Rascal, Halcyon, Guacamole, Roller Coaster Ride. And the one that has done the best? Well, that's Praying Hands.

Either way, you will HAVE to water DEEPLY and REGULARLY... probably 2x/day during heat spells. But even still, by July, you may have the hosta crispies. If you do decide to try, I'd move your hostas about 6 weeks before the last frost OR as teh pips are emerging in the spring. Do not wait until leaf-out or you'll have crispies until the 2nd flush of leaves covers up the crispies.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:41PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

moccasin, your plans sound wonderful. Can't wait to see your pics next year of Stargate and the alternate universe you are setting up in your back yard!

I just booted an azalea to a different spot and think I may have now created room for 3 star trek hosta since they aren't very large. Yippee!

As to trying to grow hosta in direct sun, I admire those of you who are so well-disciplined that you can water twice a day, but I think my garden inclines a bit more to the Darwinian end of the scale. LOL But thank you for all the suggestions anyway.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 1:31AM
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