Bring Light Into Your Backyard with Shade

Apr 9, 2009 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

tulips hosta Bring Light Into Your Backyard with ShadeI had never heard of these shade plants until recently when I was browsing through a gardening magazine.  Since then, I have done my homework on these wonderfully plush, almost exotic looking plants and find that they fit my style of gardening to a tee.  For the gardener who has very little time to spend in the yard, these need next to nothing when it comes to maintenance. Try to kill them and you probably would not succeed, neglect them and they would love you for it! They basically take care of themselves. Wow, this is every gardener’s dream!

The most common names for this plant are Hosta and Plantain Lily. They bloom from late spring to mid-fall and are hardy in zones 3 to 8. You might find them with leaves that vary in color from blue, green, gray, or variegated. The leaves are large enough to make a cozy home for some tiny garden friends like your small toads, birds and garden friendly insects. The shapes of the leaves can be anywhere from heart-shaped, to oval, round or long and narrow. They tend to have either smooth, quilted, puckered, or waxy textures.  The Hostas foliage forms clumps and grow larger and thicker every year, which makes it nice to conceal those bald spots in the flowerbeds. The flowers grow on tall, white plantain lilly flower Bring Light Into Your Backyard with Shadeslender stems with attractive blooms that are shaped like bells, spiders, trumpets or funnels. You will want to make sure you have plenty of room to plant these beauties, for they need ample space with their foliage height being up to 3 feet and width up to 5 feet.  They desire full to partial shade but there are a few varieties that will enjoy some sun. The only exception is the blue Hostas. You will not want to plant these in any kind of sun because the leaves will lose their distinctive color. They can tolerate most soil types.  Be it sand or clay, they will most likely be the easiest plant to care for in your garden.  Be nice to them and they will show you a display of unique proportions.  You can plant them whenever the ground is not frozen. Dividing them, or propagation, is easy.

purple plantain lilly Bring Light Into Your Backyard with ShadeI enjoy the fullness and ornamental nature of the Hostas , which are planted in a number of different ways. They are quite popular in borders, ground covers and as foundation plantings. If you have spring bulbs planted the previous fall, the Hostas leaves will spring up and reveal themselves, making an immensely elegant rooting for late- arriving  tulips or other spring flowers. Once the bulbs die back, the Hostas’ broad leaves conceal the now shriveled foliage from the drying bulbs. If you choose to plant them in midsummer, remember to give them plenty of water and a nice layer of mulch to keep them cool and prevent wilting. garden. Hostas are the main attraction to hummingbirds, who really savour the sweet nectar, and the seed eaters who enjoy a quick snack are the Junco’s and Chickadees.

Lastly, the most important thing for me in buying plants is affordability. Flat out, if a plant costs to much by my standards, I won’t bring it home with me.  The Hostas is a plant that you can get more bang for your buck with. Being easy to divide means you can get twice the amount that you purchased. As soon as you bring yours to its new home, divide it straight purple plantain lilly flower1 Bring Light Into Your Backyard with Shadeaway to make your dollar go that much farther. Newbies to your garden may look a little weak and spindly at first, but after a year or two will start to form thick, healthy bunches. Veteran Hostas don’t need to be divided but will make your flower gardens much more plush and allow you to expand your plantings. Once your hostas are established, they will take on any weed and have supreme victory over them. Because the leaves are so broad, they will consistently keep the base of the plant moist, making your watering schedule more lax. They do tend to invite a few unwanted guests, including earwigs, snails and slugs. To ward off  the slugs, just pour a nice cold brewsky into a shallow dish or container under the leaves. For the earwigs, crunch up some paper, placing it beneath the leaves and quickly dispose of them when spotted because they move fast. If you have deer wandering around your property, use repellents or heavy gauge fencing.

Overall,  your Hostas will flourish for years to come in the same location. No need to fuss with them, for they will keep forming bigger, more gorgeous clusters and become the pride of your garden season after season. So go find the hostas that will brighten your backyard, liven up your pooped out flowerbeds and become the ‘Hostess with the Mostess Hostas’!   Boy, that’s a mouthful!

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  1. Wow! great article! I am not surprised that it has taken you till now to find out about hostas even though they are probably the most common and versatile shade perennial out there! It was five years ago I finally got into gardening big time, as I am slowly returning the old Victorian home my wife and I own to a state of well deserved glory. I have a few blogs tracking my progress, the main blog on the home being ‘The Fiel House Chronicles’ (, with a couple of more specific subject blogs like the ‘shady character’ blog ( I have about 125 hostas on the go now, and will be up over 200 this year, and depending on how I do the front of the house, possibly between 400 and 600 within a couple of years….’Hosta la Vista, Baby!’

    • Hey David- thank you so much for the encouraging comment. I was so excited to find out about the hostas and look forward to having my own beautiful garden full of them to display. Your house sounds just delightful. I am a huge fan of Victorian style houses. I bet your plants look absolutely gorgeous against such an historical background. Happy planting and I hope your hostas turn out exactly the way you had hoped!

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