Hostas make a dependable — and leafy — addition to any Alaska garden

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 16:18
  • Hostas are a large, leafy plant with several varieties that grow well in Alaska. (Photo by Chris Wood)

Dependable, beautiful plants, Hostas (Plantation Lily) are noted for their lush foliage and low maintenance in the garden. Touted as a shade perennial, Hostas grown in Southcentral Alaska can be a shade or partly sunny perennial.

Historically, Hostas are believed to have originated in the shady forests of China. They made their way to Europe in the 1830s and made their way to America several years later. There are thousands of cultivars of varying sizes, shapes and colors.

These plants are easy to grow and some of the most highly prized plants in our garden. With very little care, Hostas never fail to perform year after year. I started out with two plants and now have over a dozen. Easy to divide, Hostas prefer rich, moist, well-drained soils and go years before they need to be divided.

Perfect for shade gardens, borders and edgings, Hostas will grow better in Alaska with a little more sun. I moved mine five years ago from a very shady spot to a new location with more sun and they have doubled in size and bloomed with a lovely lavender flower every year since.

The lush green foliage and variations of colors and textures is one of the reasons Hostas are so popular. Hardiness ranges from zones 3-9. When choosing varieties in the Southcentral Alaska area, look for zones range from 3-4.

Foliage range from chartreuse to deep emerald green, gray, gold and variegated Hostas. There are many to choose from, but be aware that the big box stores may sell Hostas that are not in our zone and therefore these plants will die in winter. If no zone is listed, look it up before you buy so you will not be disappointed.

Here are a few cultivars of Hostas that grow well in our zone: Bridal Falls, American Halo,‘ Patriot, Angel Falls, Captain Kirk, Canadian Blue, August Moon, Blue Ivy, Autumn Frost, Blue Angel and Krossa Regal.

When planting, give these lovelies room to perform and spread out. Their beautiful textured leaves really need to be seen and appreciated. Place rich compost around these plants yearly and that is pretty much all they need to thrive. Watering is important a couple of times per week but there is no need to keep them wet. Hostas can tolerate periods of dryness easily.

Keep debris from around the base of the plant to prevent rot and disease from getting a foothold. These plants are relatively disease free, which is just one of the many reasons to grow Hostas. After they bloom, cut off the spent flower to encourage the plant’s continued growth. Trim off discolored leaves at the base.

Be on the lookout for slugs around your Hostas as they like to hide underneath the lush foliage. I have not had a problem with slugs around my Hostas so far.

Now that you know a little more about Hostas, I hope this encourages you to try growing them in your landscape for extra interest and texture, you will be glad you did.

Chris Wood is a master gardener from Eagle River. Reach her at [email protected].

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