Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fall Plant Sale Preview: Hostas

Hosta 'Wheee!' in the Historic Gardens. Photo by Mandy Cuskelly.
By Mandy Cuskelly
Assistant Horticulturist, Historic Gardens

Have lots of trees and shade? Not sure what to plant? No problem—plant hostas! I am a bit of a hosta enthusiast, if you couldn’t tell. I mean, what’s not to love about a classic perennial that is shade tolerant and comes in so many shapes, sizes and colors? I could talk about hostas all day, but I'm going to behave and just talk about a few that will be offered at Duke Gardens’ Fall Plant Sale this Saturday, Sept. 29.

Hosta ‘Wheee!’ is just as much fun as the name makes it out to be. Its foliage flips and turns in every direction and never fails to grab the attention of passersby. Plant this hosta near a path or bench to attract interest and serve as a conversation piece.  Maturing at a little less than 2 feet tall, it is ideally placed at the front of a shaded bed.

Hosta 'Halcyon' in the Historic Gardens. Photo: M. Cuskelly
‘Halcyon’ is a tried and true champion of the hosta world. This classic hosta has dark blue-green leaves that hold the blue color well in our hot and humid summers.  As a bonus, ‘Halcyon’ tends to shoot off color mutations in some new shoots, and in fact is the sport parent of popular hosta cultivars like ‘June’, ‘First Frost’ and many, many others. In the Historic Gardens, we like to tuck containers like this one in unexpected places. The ‘Halcyon’ pictured has been growing in the pot for several years, looking great—and it’s low maintenance, just needing some occasional water.

Hosta 'Mini Skirt' in a mixed arrangement.
Photo: M. Cuskelly

‘Mini Skirt’ is a fun new miniature hosta. It measures only 5 inches tall at maturity but has big personality. It has very wavy blue-green leaves with yellow margins. Miniature hostas are perfect for fairy gardens or mixed bowls with other miniature shade plants. This photo shows an example of several different cultivars of miniature hosta that I put together for a display in the garden this summer. ‘Mini Skirt’ is the bottom right plant in the center.

Hosta 'Mini Skirt'. Photo by
Walters Gardens Inc.
Hostas can tend to show some wear entering into fall, but this is a great time of year to plant them. With the heat of the summer passing and more occasional rains returning, the hostas will have a great chance to get established and show their full potential next spring.
When siting these plants, you’ll want to check the tag for mature size and then provide an organic and well-draining shady spot. Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into just a few of the hostas we will have available at the sale!

Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only previews sale from 8-9 a.m., and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Parking: Free.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook and inviting your friends.
Thank you!

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