Hostas or plantain lilies are glamorous hardy perennials producing lush deep green, grey-blue or variegated foliage, and white to lilac flowers. Popularly used as ground cover, these backbones of the garden will provide months of colour and texture to the mixed or herbaceous border. Plant en masse in the shade or interlace with low-growing ferns and grasses. Alternatively, mix with a selection of perennials such as alliums and tulips — their bold leaves will have the added bonus of hiding any fading foliage. Varieties suited for containers will prove to be extremely eye-catching planted in pots, especially if you co-ordinate their colours.
Plant in moist, fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost in full or partial shade. Shelter them from cold, drying winds and mulch in spring to help the soil conserve moisture — hostas do not like dry conditions. Dead-head spent flower spikes.
Always unpack and plant on arrival.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
- Snails and slugs: these pests enjoy munching on young shoots, stems, leaves and flowers. Watch out for damage!
- Vine weevils: these black/grey beetles like to feed on ornamental foliage in spring and summer whilst larvae wreak havoc in autumn and winter by devouring plant roots. Host may wilt and potentially die. To prevent infestations, maintain good garden hygiene by disposing of any deceased plant material and debris. Additionally, take a moment to regularly inspect susceptible ornamental plants in spring and summer evenings — vine weevils come out at night — and pick off any visible pests using gloves.
- Viruses: viruses can cause a number of problems ranging from the appearance of deformed leaves and flowers to colour patterns and streaking. It is advisable to lift and destroy any affected plant at first sight.