2012 Top 100 Hosta - An Analysis?

newhostalady Z6 ON, CanadaJuly 17, 2012

First of all, I too thank you Paul very much for doing the 2012 Top 100 Hosta Poll! I enjoyed seeing the hosta list that others made, and I very much had looked forward to the results! They did not disappoint!

I was wondering whether anyone would like to comment on the results, that is, comparing the new poll with the 2008 one?

Looking at only the top 30 or so, here is what I noticed:

(1) June, Liberty and Sagae remained at the top of the list.

(2) There were a few that took a large drop in popularity and they were: Thunderbolt, Great Expectations, Gold Standard and Sun Power.

(3) There were many hostas that drastically rose in popularity and they were: Regal Splendor, Earth Angel, Dream Queen, Queen of the Seas, Cathedral Windows, Journey's End, Stained Glass, Rainforest Sunrise, Olive Bailey Langdon, and First Frost.

(4) I believe Atlantis, Golden Meadows and Dancing Queen were now newly added to the list.

Now I may have made some errors, so if I did, please correct me.

Because I am new to hostas, I don't have enough experience to really comment on changes in the poll. I do know that there have been a lot of new introductions. Also, I suspect that marketing plays an important role. The HOTY hostas are certainly made available (perhaps more so than others). I am one of the ones who is able to grow GE and feel that its drastic drop is due to the fact that it is a slow grower and many have not had success with it. I feel that if more people could grow it, they would, and it would rank higher on the poll. Also the look-a-likes (Dream Queen and Dream Weaver) have put less demand on GE.

Anyone else want to add their observations?

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MadPlanter1 zone 5

Maybe its growth rate made Thunderbolt drop. T. and Dream Queen look almost the same. I planted them the same year and Dream Queen is easily double the size of Thunderbolt.

While I listed GE as a favorite, it is a lot of trouble. I have to thoroughly drench it every day to keep it happy and growing. Once some of the new hostas have been in place a couple years and I can give an honest opinion of them, GE could be off the list.

Sagae, Stained Glass, OBL, Guacamole, Sum and Substance, Guardian Angel and Earth Angel look great with just a bit of extra water and no coddling, which makes them easy to love. Sun Power, in spite of its name, gets crispy by the end of summer even in mostly shade. It is pretty, but that was enough to keep it off my list. I'm not sure what the attraction of Regal Splendor is. It's low-maintenance, but not very exciting.

I'd be interested in hearing why hostas made/didn't make your lists.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:40PM
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Here is a shot of my Regal Splendor taken in 2009. This plant was purchased around 1993/1994, was moved here in 2004 and has never been divided once in all that time. I missed voting in the poll, but this one would have made my list.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:22PM
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The other thing about the poll to remember is that I think most everyone voted based on what they themselves grow in their own garden and I know speaking for myself, I leaned towards voting for the more mature ones in my six year old garden...and I probably have somewhere between 110-125 varieties, total. More than some, and less than some on here, I'm sure.

I think marketing, and just "trendyness" for lack of a better word, play a big part. You know, the hosta everyone seems to be talking about a particular year or two.

I just added Great Expectations this year...and I guess I feel like a little bit of a sheep for doing so- I only bought it because there were so many dang threads about it this year I HAD to see what all the fuss was about. Maybe it will make my top 20 list in a few years, or maybe it won't.

I am one of the ones Thunderbolt has grown very well for. Up to nineteen eyes in year six, which seems good to me. I have smaller hosta of the same age that haven't increased as well as Thunderbolt. I don't grow the similar "dream" ones, so can't compare. I think every garden is going to have a unique experience with many of these cultivars.

Regal Splendor was my first hosta ever purchased- I bought three in 2005 and gave one to my FIL to 2007. The other two reached a large size in no time and look beautiful every year. Perhaps not THE most exciting hosta, but for several years it looked like more of a grown up than the rest of my collection, so I have to give it major props for that.

Here's Thunderbolt @six years...what's not to love...Regal Splendor is on the left.

I know my list will change a lot as my garden matures. I already have a few substitutions I'd like to make to the votes I made.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:33PM
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I am one who has bought (and lost) numerous Great Expectations because of the striking variegation and leaf size, shape and substance. There are now similar cultivars available and peeps are buying these for the same reason, and having more success with them. So this probably accounts for GEs drop and the gains of Dream Queen, Cathedral Windows, etc. The same holds true for the drop of Frances Williams and rise of Olive Bailey Langdon and other FW look alikes. From a color and size standpoint Earth Angel will easily fill in for FW and will do it much faster, and it doesn't have the margin problems of FW. I have two photos in my Hosta Book showing the leaves of EA and F. Aureomarginata and you really have to study the tip of each leaf to see the difference. Both are durable and robust growers also. That said, EA will grow much larger than FA. So I would think a person might choose one over the other based upon available space in their gardens. But in general, for hosta lovers SIZE MATTERS, hence EA was voted HOTY.

I don't think commercial hype had much effect on how peeps presented their noms. It will effect our new hosta purchases though. I have many 2-3 year old hostas I wasn't ready to replace anything on my list. Babys are cute, but adults are gorgeous. It doesn't matter to me if it takes 3 years, like Blue Angel, to look great, or 5 years like some slow growers, as long as they mature and are gorgeous. Thats the bottom line, for me. I have had Sagae for 3 seasons now and it is already striking from afar. So it is high on my list even though next year is when it should really put on a show. (size makes my heart go pitter-pat, and if anyone wants to make fun of me for saying this give it a go-Steve!)


    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:21AM
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bernd ny zone5

Coll, that Thunderbolt is a real beauty with those corrugated round blue green leaves, looking forward to my 2 growing up. I have no problems with GE, have now 4.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:35AM
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So glad you brought an election night recap thread to the party. I was thinking along those lines too. Had one typed up and it vanished when I tried to preview. Oh well. Maybe it was for the best.

I was thinking that we did vote for what was growing in our gardens. How many people who voted were experienced at growing hosta? Have any mature plants? Been keeping up with the action in hosta hybridizing? Visiting lots of forums or only ONE? It's like only watching Fox News to form your point of view, it is very limited.

So I'm thinking that many of the ones in my garden, as an example, are there because I've read about them in posts, seen pictures of them growing in the gardens of other posters, liked the blurb in the catalog/website, and have many plants now that I've grown less than a year. Not a very good background for electing favorite hosta. BUT, I will say that I made choices also for species plants which were not listed as popular, but I WANTED to see where the current hosta hybrids are coming from. It is teaching me a lot.

Some folks who voted in this poll were new to gardening, but not as many as were long-time gardeners just new to hosta. It might be interesting to ask how you came to love hosta of all the plants you could have chosen? It was a question my DH asked me, because I've gardened a long time and never had such an obsession to such an extent as this.

I started in 2010 by ordering some hosta for our garden in Massachusetts. Didn't even see them until late that summer after they'd bloomed. Had about 8 plants that year. In Sept 2011 I was up there in MA and got about 8 more plants from Seawright's nursery nearby, and that made 16. I had 3 plants in the ground in Alabama by that time--19. I ordered some by mail to ship to AL before I came home---the pace quickens here---and that was from Bridgewood and Bob Solberg--mostly fragrants. Well, to date, not counting 5 of this, 2 of that, I have a total of....(178 unique hosta)..all in pots except for 3. I say that (178) in a whisper in case my DH is listening. He thinks it is like 117. Which it was at one point, on one day in May. Before I discovered HL Auctions. And before I said, "Why not one more?"

But, I digress.

How bad it has gotten here, I am looking at the vacant house behind us, one yard over, and contemplating that as a real hosta garden, shade garden if you will. But we'll see.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Chris your Regal Splendor is stunning, especially with those pretty astilbes!
Mine has never done much, I think I've had it since 2000, moved it once. After I saw your pic I have moved it again, hopefully it will do better.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 4:23PM
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There is one that stands out on the list that makes me think that we have influenced one another.....Golden Meadows.

Paul posted his photo of Golden Meadows and based on lots of comments, many many people are getting it this year, or it's on their wish lists.

So maybe the popularity of the hosta on this forum over the past has led people to get it and love it too :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 10:31AM
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on_greenthumb, I agree that a talked/posted about hosta will get a bump....though virtually 100% stated that they voted for ones they are growing. I have many that I bought because someone posted pics, but until it grows well for me I wouldn't vote for it.

Interesting to me is that Striptease is ahead of Kiwi Full Monty - an earlier thread when asked which to buy, seemed to lean toward KFM. Again it may be due to Striptease is in more gardens. In 2 or 4 years maybe they will flip flop.

If you planted everything in the top 100 you would have a very nice hosta specimen garden.

What do you think might be biggest risers in the poll 2 or 4 years from now?

My guesses - American Sweetheart, Irish Luck, Neptune, LS Prophecy Fulfulled, LS Paisley Print, Alligator Shoes, High Society, Pistache, Rainbow's End


    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Paul, I feel the same about having hostas that have yet to PROVE themselves to me in my garden. Like ken loves to remind us - you can't judge a hosta until it becomes mature - or something like that.
I bought a Niagara Falls that might make my top 20 in 2-3 years, and El Nino which I'd received as my bonus from Hallson last fall is well on its way already. It may be an early riser on my list. It reminds me of June, but with totally different colors.
I wonder how fast the newest HOTY will come up in the list. I saw them at a local grower and scratched my head thinking "why?" I'm still scratching everytime I see Praying Hands.

I have NO doubts as to why Sagae and Liberty are crowding the top. Both mine and my daughters Sagae and Liberty are as advertised and are doing it quickly.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 1:10PM
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Paul, I've added the names you mention above to my WATCH list...which is different from the WISH list. I'll be keeping them in mind every time I see a photo of a new hosta.

I like the Regal Splendor shown above. I am waiting for a LS Paisley Print(Steve_Mass twisted my arm) to be shipped, as well as Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Les keeps dropping its name), and then Elegans (Ludi loves it so).
Some I added in this recent spate of orders were not shown on the Top 100 but I liked their heritage, or as much as I knew about it anyway. There are some in my current garden that if they died, I'd not miss them. They were not suited to this climate or else too picky for me to grow. That sort of information comes from experienced growers. That is what I need to read about in the GW Hosta Forum, how a hosta grows in a certain garden, what problems and what good points. So, yes, the forum is very influential on my purchases where I've seen that plant appear here.

The ones I choose as a gamble, say have NOT seen or read anyone's experience, are the ones which seem to push all my dream buttons...fragrant, right size, color pattern green or yellow or blue not too much white, erect stance, heavy substance, slug resistant, .....or it has a good name.

I also note which plants are coming from Alttara Scheer, Stuart Asch, Paul Aden, Tony Avent, Bob Solberg, Livingston, Goodenough, ---their plants always merit attention. Oh yes, and Don Rawson....but I've only grown his Rhino Hide and merely covet his gorgeous Color Revolt!!

Incidentally, Color Revolt is at the top of my WISH list, along with Alttara Scheer's Annabel Lee; plus LS Prophecy Fulfilled, Regal Splendor, AND Dorothy Benedict. Yeah, I want to grow the Grand Dame herself, and see what she can teach me.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Ludi _PA_7a

Moccasin I am flattered you are giving Miss Elegans a try based solely on my doting. Like a proper lady she prefers the shade and to be kept cool. With this past two week heat spurt one of my three clumps in the most sun started to blanch a bit where the sun would hit it through the canopy. Fuss over her and she will reward you with her excessively large beauty.

I am reminded of a Queen song . . . I will stop there :p

I am always enchanted by your plantiginea but with my shade I fear they would never grown to their full genetic potential. I am giving Stained glass a try though, so we shall see.

Wish me luck !!!


    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:33AM
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newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada

I must say that I was hoping for more of a debate about the results of the new poll and am rather surprise that that hasn't happened.

To MadPlanter 1: I can understand that it is a lot of work to water your GE daily. I can water my GE every second day. Our temperature in Ontario, Canada has been in the low 90's for the last two weeks and it only rained once during that time. But temperatures have now decreased. I so love GE. I have purchased Dream Queen this year and look forward to doing a comparison.

Since I am new to hostas, I only voted for 4 hostas: GE and June, Paul's Glory (because I love the coloring. I remember someone on the forum saying that they loved Paul's Glory because it looked different every day. I thought "how could that be?" Well, it is a great joy to see the coloration change so frequently. It is a good grower too.) I also chose Earth Angel. It has great thickness to the leaf. I like the shape of the leaf and the form of the plant. I have had F. Aureomarginata for many years and it is very nice. But I have never ever loved it.

copher mi: Your Regal Splendor is beautiful. I purchased one this year and hope it will be as lovely as yours.

coll 123: Your Thunderbolt is gorgeous.

I want to also comment on whether one should really vote for a hosta that you have if it is not mature. In 2010 I had approximately 15 hosta in my garden. Last year I had a total of 30 and this year about 50. Of the 15 that I have had for many years, I do not love any of them. I voted in the poll for GE (this one I have had for many years) and for June, Paul's Glory and Earth Angel, it took me just one year to love them. I don't think that I need to actually have a mature clump to know what I love. This year I purchased Sagae, Liberty, Regal Splendor, Rainforest Sunrise, Blue Mouse Ears, just to name a few, and they are very nice, but I don't love them yet. I am looking forward to seeing them next year.

I don't know why I am hooked on hostas rather than some other plant. I guess GE just blew me away and then I was hooked.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Hi, NewHostaLady, glad to have another Ontarian onboard the train. I'm sure others here like myself, welcome all discussion, and if you with a fresh eye to the forum can point up a trend or an anomaly, we'd have a starting point.

I have a very few hosta which are sort of mature if you count them as being 2 years old when they arrived here, and now they'd be 4. But other than that, I too am new to hosta and jumped in with both feet like Lucy into the grape vat.
I hope I live long enough to have really mature clumps of some of these hosta. But I cannot wait that long to be a fully participating member of the forum. There are many like me here, you probably noticed, and in the poll where they did not have an opinion based on their experience, I think they passed on the option of listing a full 20 hosta. Out of the 178 I had at the time of the voting, I know I really and truly LOVED the ones I voted for, mature or not.
I'd be very sad if the forum had a different policy on participating. I think all the individual votes are shown, if you wish to see what I voted for. As it turns out, everyone without a single exception (am I right there, Les?) voted for hosta they are growing in their garden.

Even in the Hosta Library where the policy is to only upload mature hosta, there are many images of immature plants. Even that picture is better than none at all, right? And that to me is true of participating here.. ...

We just started a discussion I think....:)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:32AM
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Ludi, I'll set her on the porch with a glass of sweet tea and she'll be a southern maiden lady in no time.

I'll remember your caution to keep her in the shade, else she gets the "vapors" and feels faint, might need some medicinal spirits, do you suppose....or a dampened hanky pressed to her temples and her wrists.....she'll add some class

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:04AM
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If I could only choose from the mature ones in my garden- I'd have exactly one on my list- Regal Splendor. Those were purchased in 2005, with the rest of my garden and the majority of hosta collection coming in 2006-2010. Even RS looks a little bigger this year, so I guess it's still "maturing" too.

moccasin, I didn't know that about the HL policy. Seems like there are a lot of rule breakers, then! I find it hard to find mature pics of many hostas, there or anywhere. Only the really old ones seem easy to find online.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 9:38AM
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"Even in the Hosta Library where the policy is to only upload mature hosta"

If you reread (it's not written clearly) - the HL wants to wait to post immature pics until mature pics are available to post.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:07AM
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Ah, Paul, sorry I mis-spoke. I am not sure what the policy is then. But I'd heard it was to post mature pictures. I should remove ONLY from the statement at the very least.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:58PM
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mil, I was just trying to clarify. But it can easily be read a couple of different ways. Not sure even after I have reread it multiple times. Don't know that it really matters as there are many listings with pics at different ages - which I find this helpful in ID'ing and also tracking progress of a cultivar.


From the bottom of the first page at HL-

"The Hosta Library is primarily a database for images of mature hostas. It is the policy of the Hosta Library NOT to add pictures for immature plants until they are mature and have been fully evaluated and/or registered with the Cultivar Registration Authority for Hosta. Therefore, named seedlings and immature hosta cultivars cannot be illustrated in the Hosta Library until images of fully mature plants can be obtained."

Contributed by George Schmid

Here is a link that might be useful: Hosta Library

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:45PM
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