Posts Tagged ‘Shade’

Hostas Sun or Shade

Icon Written by Wayne on March 1, 2011 – 12:01 am

With good reason, hostas are one of the most popular plants for the homegardener. After all growing hostas, is easy, and they provide fabulous, foolproof foliage that thrives in in almost any situation.

Hostas are shade plants, right? Not necessarily. Hostas are considered shade-tolerant plants, but shade might not be their ideal growing condition. Hostas grow best in an exposure with morning sun and afternoon shade.

Some cultivars will tolerate some afternoon sun, although plants grown in full afternoon sun probably will show signs of burning on leaves in the summer months. Many hostas are more vigorous and display their most vibrant colors if given at least some sun. Yellow colored hostas without at least a couple of hours of full sun will fade to green.

Keep in mind, the heat experienced in a full sun location can vary from area to area and even during different times of the day. Full sun in the morning hours will not be as intense as full sun at noon. So if your site is extremely hot or dry, you will need to keep any hostas sitting in full sun well watered.

Similarly, no hosta is going to thrive in deep shade. They all need some sunlight to photosynthesize. The shade tolerant varieties seem to do best in an exposure of morning sun and late afternoon shade.

Blue hostas require the most protection from the sun. This is because the blue color is actually a waxy coating on the leaves. The leaves themselves are a shade of green. The waxy coating gives them a blue tint. In full, hot sun, this waxy coating melts and exposes the green leaf underneath.

Unfortunately, only trial and error can tell you which hostas with variegation can tolerate full sun without burning. The thicker the leaves, the more tolerant they will be of full sun. Another problem with variegated hostas is that they have minimal amounts of chlorophyll. In full sun, the chlorophyll levels can increase and cause the leaves to pick up a green cast and look less variegated.

You can follow the rules and choose the recommended plants and still not have success. The only real gage for how sun tolerant a plant is, is how it is performing. If your Hosta plants are not doing as well try moving them to a new location.

Tips of the Month

Some simple things to remember about sunlight and growing hostas:

  • The most important thing to remember is hosta are shade tolerant, not shade dependent.
  • The more white a hosta has the more sun it needs to maintain vigor.
  • A lot of the yellow/gold hosta have brighter colors in the sun.
  • Blue leaved plants do better in deeper shade since the blue color is from a waxy coating on the leaves.
  • No matter where you place the hosta, remember to water until it is established.
  • All morning sunshine is welcome, then semi or full shade during the afternoon. 7. Hostas expire a lot of water via their leaves. The hot afternoon sun will tax their ability to supply sufficient water to the leaf. The heat will deteriorate the Hosta leaves from the edges inwards
  • Some hostas will burn quite easily so that only 1-2 hours of early morning sun is the maximum that can be tolerated.
  • Hostas that have yellow centers, or are all yellow must have 1-2 hours of direct sun.
  • Generally, dark green and blue Hostas will do better in more shade.
  • Flower of the Month


    Hosta Hybrid ‘Inniswood’

    Named for Inniswood Gardens in Westerville, Ohio, Inniswood ( ) is a version of ‘Sun Glow with rounded gold corrugated foliage and a wide, deep green edge has become a hosta world favorite. The fast growing 4 foot wide clump is topped with medium lavender flowers on 30 inch scapes in late spring.

    Web Site of the Month

    White Oak Nursery

    Since 1984 White Oak Nursery has been a family owned and operated business specializing in raising hostas. In 2003 we expanded their product line to include daylilies. They grow their plants on twelve acres in Woodford County, Illinois. Their objective is to satisfy their customers by providing a wide selection of varieties at reasonable prices.

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Small Perennial Plants for the Shade Garden

Icon Written by Wayne on February 1, 2011 – 12:01 am

Deciding the actual plants to use in a small garden is more than a personal preference. You need to consider the cultural environment, amount of sunlight, soil conditions, moisture, maintenance, and surrounding plants. Since this is a small space garden, maintenance will be less intensive. Also some consideration should be given to how to achieve a good visual effect.

That said, we feel the main problem when selecting plants for a small sized garden is how to pick out just a few from a long list of plants. Since your space is limited, every plant counts. Here are a few plants we recommend be incorporated into your small garden.

  • 21Asarum europaeum Snakeroot, Wood Ginger is originally a native of Canada, this little creeper gives off a strong scent of ginger from its large fleshy tubers. Though it can be situated in borders, it comes into its own as a ground-core plant in moist and shady parts of the garden. The flowers are a deep red but even more important are the silky leaves that cover the soil throughout the year, even in winter.
  • 166Acorus gramineus ‘Minimus Aureus’ Dwarf Golden Sweet Flag is 2-3 inches tall but brilliant gold in color. This little plant makes a stunning groundcover in moist, partly shaded locations, handling full sun just fine with enough moisture. With foliage resembling tiny golden iris.
  • 46Epimedium youngianum ‘Baby Doll Pink’ Barrenwort grows in clumps only 9 inches tall. In the woodland garden, the flowers appear in early spring on this deciduous clumper. Each cluster of “baby doll pink” flowers hangs like tiny bells above the woodland floor, with each new developing cluster of flowers.
  • 280Heuchera hybrid ‘Marmalade’ Coral Bells stands out with its rich, shiny, undulating foliage ranging in color from umber to deep sienna. Showy in all seasons, this vigorous plant has heavy substance standing up to inclement weather. Numerous, narrow spires of red-brown flowers.
  • 69Pulmonaria rubra ‘David Ward’ Lungwort is a terrific lungwort with mint-green leaves and ruffled, bold white edges. Beautiful salmon flowers nestle in the variegated leaves. Neat habit. What a plant! A stunner in the half-shadegarden. A must for the Pulmonaria collector.

  • 50Tiarella hybrid ‘Spring Symphony’ Foam Flower is one of the best clumping tiarella that we have seen. The jagged, fuzzy green leaves are each highlighted by a black central blotch. In May, the compact clumps are topped with light pink bottlebrush-like flowers, darker toward the tips.

The list could go on and on as there are just so many excellent plants out there with more being developed yearly. We intentionally did not mention hostas or primroses as these are subjects unto themselves. In Fact, we were not going to include any epimediums, since so much is happening with them in recent years, but no garden should be without a few of these fine plants. We hope to cover these developments in a future Yard Talk.

Tips of the Month

The following are some general guidelines to follow in selecting plants.

  • Choose plants that have a desirable flower color and foliage.
  • Know the potential size of the plant in order to fit proportionally within the garden.
  • Select plants that bloom throughout the growing season.
  • Determine the amount of sunlight in the garden area and select plants that will thrive with that amount of light.
  • Select plants that will grow well in the soil condition of the garden area.
  • Look for healthy plants that appear vigorous.
  • Choose plants that all have the same water requirements.
  • Avoid plants that attract insects or disease problems in your area.
  • Keep in mind that some flower colors may not compliment other flower colors.
  • Flowers of red, pink, blue, and purple are “cool” colors and will soften a garden. Flowers of orange and yellow are “hot” colors and will brighten a garden.

Flower of the Month


Arisaema candidissimum

Cobra Lily emerges in very late spring with 1 foot tall stalks of pink pitchers which are dramatically striped with translucent, white vertical veins. Alongside the flower, emerge two giant three-lobed leaves, which can reach 2 feet in width. A. candidissimum offsets freely in a well-drained site in the garden.

Web Site of the Month

Pine Forest Gardens

Found in Atlanta, Georgia, is truly a great source for quality hostas. While their selection is somewhat limited, they have most of the top quality specimen hostas. Their web site has excellent quick loading graphics which makes viewing and selection easy.

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