What are good hosta companion plants?

gramma_jan_mn_zn_4December 7, 2004

Still planning my hosta garden. What plants have different texture, size, shape, coloring and bloom that you like to see grown with hostas? Are there any small 3' shrubs that would grown in almost no dapples light with them?


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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Well, the possibilities are certainly broad - pretty well any plant that you find tolerates similar conditions (shade to part shade, I'm assuming?) would probably create an interesting contrast. A few of these might be ligularias, cimicifiga, epimediums, corydalis, heucheras, lamium, ajuga, lungworts, hepatica, goatsbeard, thalictrum, brunnera, columbines, etc..
One could also grow ephemerals such as mertensia and shooting star, that would later be covered up as the hosta unfurls its leaves.
Here are some possibilities, perhaps...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 9:02PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Impatiens maybe.... one of the prettiest combinations I've seen posted on the hosta forum was a hosta with bright red miniature roses peeping out from between.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 10:03PM
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Ab, I love your plants, now if I only knew what they are. Let's see Japanese painted fern and well, I guess Japanese painted fern, that is all I know by a specific name. Can you help? What's with the hosta in the first pic, I love the leaf - how big does that plant become?
What's the yellow flower in the second pic and what kinds of fern - are they invasive? I don't know any of the plants in photo #3, can you help?
4th pic, what's that pretty hosta, is it fast growing? Is that tierella or foam flower looks like the description I have heard. What's the fern - invasive? And the little plants in the foreground? \
4th pic - what's at the top, on the left, on the rt and in the foreground? Said I was new to shade gardening, now do you believe me. I have lots to learn.
Thanks for any help. jan

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 11:38PM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Yes, sorry - I got lazy, but I figured you would ask if your interest was piqued by any of them, LOL! I don't find any of these ferns invasive.
Anyway, just a few suggestions as to what to grow with hostas...
1. Cimicifuga racemosa and Hosta 'Frances Williams' - not sure of ultimate size, but mine is about 2 1/2' across.

2. yellow flowers = Lysimachia nummularia (invasive in some areas, I don't find it to be so); from front to back - trollius, tatting fern (Dryopteris filix-femina 'Frizelliae'), male fern (Dryopteris affinis 'Crispa'), dark purple is Cimicifuga ramosa 'Hillside Black Beauty', royal fern (Osmunda regalis, which only ever gets a few leaves here).

3. Corydalis lutea (strong self-seeder) on left, Ligularia dentata 'Othello' on right.

4. Yes, Japanese painted fern (which don't do terribly well here); groundcover is Ajuga 'Mahogany'; Tiarella 'Spanish Cross'; hostas are 'Chinese Sunrise' (I think) and 'Great Expectations', both of which need to do some growing.

5. Clockwise from top: Cimicifuga ramosa 'Atropurpurea', Ligularia hessei (1 leaf showing), Epimedium x rubrum, Western Canada violet (Viola rugulosa - somewhat invasive), Ligularia stenocephala 'The Rocket'.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 12:55AM
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luvmydaisies(Lonsdale, MN/ zone4)

When is the tour? Just kidding, but they are beautiful gardens. Thank you for sharing. I have in my shade gardens toad lily,astilbe, white and old fashioned bleedign heart, gerecian wind flowers, columbine, lily of the valley,hosta 'honey bells', dream queen','morning light' and some others that I don't have names for varigated, thin green ones with dk. purple flowers and large green leaf with white flowers, foamy bells, chatterbox, a shrub called emerald 'n green euonymus, tulip tardia & unifolia, pink lady slipper, jack in the pulpit, virginia blue bells,anemone, and wild ginger.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 10:32AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Frances Williams is a beautiful hosta. I planted one last summer. I understand though, that it burns around the edges in the heat of summer, and it's also in the large to huge category. Under ideal growing conditions it should reach 36" in height and 48" in width.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 9:52PM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Just an aside, but I haven't found that my 'Frances Williams' gets any leaf-burn; it's on the north side of a lattice fence, however it gets pretty much full sun (with the high summer sun at his latitude). It doesn't get very hot here or for very long though. However, it's probably very different so much farther south...

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 12:28AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Yes, Frances Williams has pretty much fallen out of favor here with the introduction of so many better cultivars. I have found the burning to be not sun related in my garden, but I am guessing it is the very heavy soil.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 6:29PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I haven't had the burning problem with Frances Williams yet either, ABgardener, but I've read about it over and over in the hosta forum. Here's what Hosta Lib has to say about her:

"This sport of H. sieboldiana 'Elegans' was registered in 1986 by Williams and was #1 on the American Hosta Society Popularity Poll for over 10 years. It has giant blue-green leaves with yellowish green margins. The foliage mound can reach to 36x48" in 7 years. The leaves are sturdy and rugose. The scapes as tall as 40". The leaves are rounded and have almost no tip to them. Much talk has centered on the susceptibility to frost-burn of the gold areas of the leaves. All agree it would be a better plant without this trait."

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 11:33PM
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Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see one of the all time great shade lovers/hosta companions listed, that being pulmonarias. There are so many hybrids out there, it's hard to keep up, and they do really well in MN. I also grow a few different varieties of hardy primula (denticulata, japonica, veris, Rosettas doubles, polyanthus) that are gorgeous as (most) bloom early just as the hostas are starting to send up their spires of leaves. Their foliage looks good (many like cabbage/lettuce heads) even after hard frosts.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2005 at 4:28AM
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Some nice suggestions here, but I need to go further.

My hosta garden is in an area that gets virtually no morning sun, then when the sun gets over the highest trees, it gets blasted with about three hours of incredibly hot sun, and then the shade from the house hits it and that's it. It's also quite dry. My astilbe always crisp up just as they begin to bloom, and the ferns I've planted refuse to get any bigger. The lily of the valley are surviving and spreading (as if there were anything that could stop lilyof the valley) and so far the lady's mantle hasn't died yet, but the only thing that likes it there (besides the hostas) is the dicentra, and that's probably because it dies back before the weather gets really hot.

I'd really like something to contrast the various hosta shapes (I've got a variety of sizes and colors of hostas), but I can't find anything that tolerates the combination of dryness, lack of sun, and those few hours of hot, hot sun.

Any ideas? I'm sort of looking for taller things. Stuff like primroses and ajuga are awfully short.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 12:55PM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

The various species of Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis, erythropoda, alpina) might be good choices, as they can take either sun or shade in dry conditions. We have Calamintha grandiflora in both dry-ish sun and shade, and it does well. Same for lamium.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 1:38PM
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Hosta are beautiful up against my tall old fashioned garden phlox, columbine, dictamus, japanese iris, daylilies, oriental lilies and my large white bleeding heart. I also have them next to vines such as clematis. Some of the upright lady ferns are spectacular hosta companions, too. Good luck, Brenda

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 7:25PM
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Will the lady ferns take dry? I have tried ostrich ferns, shaggy sheild ferns, and Japanese painted ferns, and, um, maybe leatherwood.

Some have died outright, but most eke out a pathetic existence, neither dying nor getting any bigger. I love the look of ferns next to hostas, but I can't seem to find one that will put up with this difficult location.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 2:28PM
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Oh, and how does phlox do in the sun/shade mix I describe? I thought tall phlox needed lots of sun.

I'm thinking of moving my asiatic lilies to that bed, but the kind of sun (short duration, but super intense) makes me think it a bad idea.

Maybe I should just go with more kinds of hostas...

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 5:21PM
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My tall phlox are in different conditions.The ones in the most shade(morning sun) just start blooming a week later than the ones in sun. I am in dry Wyoming and work with that except for a small fenced garden that I water on occasion. That is where my hosta, oriental lilies, ferns, trillium,shooting stars, etc. are living happily. I learn most everything the hard way, though-trial and error.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 7:05PM
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Yes, well my gardening approach is rather Darwinian. I'm too lazy and cheap environmentally conscious to go around watering the many beds more than on an occasional basis.

How about Heuchera? Would those do OK in such a dry spot?

Flowers in my front beds are mostly red and yellow. I saw a Stella d'Oro-like red called Little Business on a website. Has anybody tried it?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 1:48PM
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I went back to check this thread and realized I hadn't thanked all of you for your plentiful and terrific ideas, so thanks a bunch.
I wrote this in "04 and I have some beautiful hostas now. A few bolted this year and then the heat got them. Guess I need to move a couple and they are pretty good size now-no small job to transplant. Never even noticed them until this spring and they are beautiful. Unfortunately, they were among my first and I didn't mark things the first couple of years.
If I ever figure out how to post photos again, I will seek your.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:53PM
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