Hosta plants offer plenty of shady location choices [UPDATED]Published 9:27am Monday, March 19, 2012 Updated 11:28am Monday, March 19, 2012
Verna had retired and moved into a small house with a very small yard. It was well shaded with large maple trees limiting the plants she could put in her new surroundings.
After some research and several trips to three or four nurseries, and three garden tours, she decided she had just enough room for the smallest of the hostas.
In 2010, there were 200 named baby hostas, so she had a lot to pick from. They come in small, defined as those with a leaf blade bigger than 10 inches but less than two inches.
Minis that have a leaf blade no larger than six inches, and the very small, everything tinier than a mini.
Since they are so small, they get lost in a regular flower or hosta bed. Like Greta Garbo, they “vant to be alone.”
They are great as an edging, in a bed with a dwarf conifer or a few other very small shade plants. Hostas love the dappled shade maple trees cast.
Verna decided on a rock garden on a slight slope on one side of the house and a fairy garden behind it.
Like their larger cousins, the mini hostas seem to call for rocks for accents, this and their size make then ideal for rock gardens.
A hosta snuggled up to a rock just seems like it must have grown that way.
The minis come in all the colors and shapes the big guys do. A row of Pandora’s Box, a white splashed, pointy green leaf, would brighten up any small spot. They will also do well, and show off more in raised beds.
The little ones are the perfect size for fairy gardens. You can let your imagination run loose with these gardens.
A toy tire, hung from the branch of a dwarf tree is a swing.
One small flowering annual can be a flowering shrub. Check your kid’s toy box for “people,” or other small things.
If you want houses, check your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or the dollar stores. They will often have other bits and pieces to get your artistic juices flowing.
Local nurseries have miniature trees that only grow an inch a year and are hardy enough, with good mulching, to live in a hosta bed.
Or, if you want to try container gardening with hostas and the tiny trees, consider putting them in the garage with an old quilt covering them for the winter.
If you have more room, mass plantings of the small hostas really put on a show. Group them by color or leaf shape. Snake a dry riverbed through them or, just use your imagination. It’s your show after all.
The small hostas do need extra T.L.C. They want well-drained soil with lots of organic matter to keep their rather shallow roots moist.
Mulch them with mulch that fits their size, coco bean shells, buckwheat hulls, ground pine bark, or finely shredded bark.
Big chunks of bark will overpower the look you are attempting.
Have fun with these tiny wonders. Your gardener friends with sunny gardens will envy you.
Bev Johnson is a master gardener for Otter Tail County.Hosta plants offer plenty
of shady location choices