Anyone that has seen my garden that rest under a 200+ year old willow oak tree can attest to the fact that I have a problem....it is a debilitating disease....I must own every variety of hosta on the planet! So far, I have a pretty good start. At last count, about a year ago, I had 45 different cultivars.
I started collecting hostas about 20 years ago when I moved to this house that is shielded under this magnificent tree that provides the shade necessary for these herbaceous perennials. Believe me, it was not easy switching from a "sun" gardener to a "shade" gardener. I'll admit I kept trying to grow my first loves...hollyhocks, sunflowers, etc....but then I purchased my first hosta and I never looked back.
Hosta's are easy to grow shade plants native to China, Korea and Japan and according to the American Hosta Society, they were first imported and grown in Europe in the late 1700's and then in the United States by the mid 1800's. Thanks to hybridizing and tissue culture propagation, there are hundreds of species and thousands of cultivars available. (Thank you Tony Avent!)
Hostas or Plaintain Lillies, as they are sometimes called, are propagated by dividing the crowns. Every year without fail, I get out my best kitchen knife and start splitting. As a result of constant dividing plus the new varieties I add each year, my shade garden has become a gorgeous sea of shades of blues and greens.
About a week ago, I noticed on one of my most prized possessions, "Big Mama" (a cross of "Blue Tiers" and "Blue Angel"), the summer bonus I had been waiting for. In late July Big Mama sends up her glorious flower stalks. Of all the hostas, in my opinion, this has to be the most beautiful. The flower scapes are about 3 1/2 feet tall with fragrant tubular bell shaped white flowers.
Now mind you, that is just the gravy....or as Alyce would say, it's like a gift with purchase at the Lancome counter because even if the flowers never emerged, the hosta itself is 4' in diameter and 3' tall. This particular plant I purchased from Plant Delight's Nursery about 6 years ago.
I have never divided Big Mama because I wanted her to get to maturity as quickly as possible and it has been worth the wait. Nestled in my main flower bed in dense shade she performs again and again with enormous show stopping blue green textured round leaves and then those beautiful flowers. Not only is she a beauty, but she is also low maintenance. Big Mama is resistant to slugs or other pest. All she requires is shade, regular feeding and regular watering.
In the winter as the foliage dies back, I remove all the dead leaves, mulch well and wait until we meet again in the spring. I have read that it is best to cut the scape once it is in full bloom so the nourishment that is being provided to the seed pods can then become energy that is stored in the crown for future growth....but I let them stay a while so I can watch the hummingbirds that greet her every morning.
Ahhh, well, I guess this is a sickness I will just have to endure!