2013 Larger Hostas

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Hosta 'Stirptease'Although miniature hostas are versatile, cute, and fun, it is the larger hostas that provide the bold statement and beautiful colors in shade gardens.  Here clockwise from top: ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Flavocircinalis’, ‘Gold Bullion’, and ‘Striptease’.


I have explained in previous posts how my hosta addiction has progressed and focused on little hostas.  However, that doesn’t mean that I neglect the larger hostas.  I have my definite favorites there too.  In fact, some of them are such favorites that, when I couldn’t buy them to sell to my customers, I decided to grow them myself just so they would be available for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  In this post, I am going to profile seven of those hostas, all of which I consider stars of the shade garden.  Be sure to look at the mature specimens in my garden when you visit.


Hosta 'Rainforest Sunrise'‘Rainforest Sunrise’ with ‘Frosted Violet’ coralbells


‘Rainforest Sunrise’ is the 2013 Hosta of the Year, a prestigious award bestowed yearly by the American Hosta Growers Association on only one of the 8,000 cultivars in existence.  For beautiful photos of all the yearly winners, click here.  It forms a small mound 10″ high and 25″ wide—very useful in smaller shade gardens and smaller spaces.  Its cupped and corrugated bright gold leaves with a sharply contrasting dark green margin are 6″ long and 5″ wide and really stand out in the shade.  ‘Rainforest Sunrise’ has lovely near white flowers in July.


Hosta 'Dream Queen'‘Dream Queen’ with maidenhair fern and ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa).


‘Dream Queen’ is an offshoot of ‘Great Expectations’ with the same gorgeous leaves and habit but much bluer foliage.   It forms an upright and spreading mound 24″ high and supposedly 50″ wide at maturity, although I have had mine for years and it is not that wide.  The 12″ long by 10″ wide round leaves have a narrow yellow center stripe surrounded by deep blue.  They are heavily corrugated and have thick, slug-deterring substance.  ‘Dream Queen’ produces near white flowers from late June into early August.


Hosta 'Pineapple Upside Down Cake'‘Pineapple Upsidedown Cake’ with hellebores and Japanese holly fern


‘Pineapple Upsidedown Cake’ makes a tremendous specimen in my garden with its unusual look and habit.  It forms a fast-growing mound 18″ high and up to 50″ wide, although my mature specimen is about half that size.  The narrow, rippled, bright gold leaves with dark green margins are 9″ long and 3″ wide.  Unlike most hostas, they become more gold as the season progresses.  It produces lavender flowers in August.


Hosta 'Orange Marmalade'‘Orange Marmalade’  with ‘Blackout’ coralbells


‘Orange Marmalade’ is a striking addition to my yellow and gold garden with its bright gold-orange centers throughout spring.  It forms a mound 20″ high by 45″ wide at maturity.  The prominent blue-green margin on the 7″ long by 5″ wide leaves sets off perfectly the orangey centers.  It produces lavender flowers from mid-July into early August.  ‘Orange Marmalade’ is an off-shoot of ‘Paul’s Glory’ with all the wonderful attributes of that 1999 hosta of the year but a brighter center color.


Hosta 'Tick Tock'‘Tick Tock’ has a starring role in my little hosta rock garden.


‘Tick Tock’ is another beautiful hosta suitable for smaller spaces.  It forms an elegant symmetrical mound 10″ high by 18″ wide.  Its thick 4″ by 2″ gold leaves are set off by wide blue-green margins.  It produces lavender flowers in July.  What ‘Tick Tock’ most resembles is a mini ‘June’ for smaller gardens.


Hosta 'Summer Lovin'‘Summer Lovin’ with clockwise from top: ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass, pulmonarias, native ‘Citronelle’ coralbells, hellebores, and native Indian pink (Spigelia).


Hosta 'Summer Lovin'‘Summer Lovin’ in bloom


‘Summer Lovin’ is the star of my yellow and gold garden, pulling together all the various hues and textures as you can see in the top photo.  It forms a mound 18″ high and 40″ wide.  What is so special about it is the way the unusually wide gold margins contrast with the dark green center—very unique.  The leaves are 7″ long and 6″ wide and have thick, slug-resisting substance.  It produces compact and attractive pale lavender flowers in July.


Hosta tokudama 'Flavocircinalis' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Flavocircinalis’ makes a wonderful specimen.


Hosta tokudama 'Flavocircinalis' at Carolyn's Shade Gardens‘Flavocircinalis’ leaf close up


‘Flavocircinalis’, not exactly a user friendly name, means the well-rounded hosta and is a cultivar of my favorite hosta species Hosta tokudama.  Although Mark Zilis, author of the definitive hosta reference book The Hostapedia, calls it “one of the greatest hosta cultivars ever introduced”, it is hard to find and expensive when you do find it.  Wholesale growers don’t like it because it grows slowly in pots.  I grew it myself this year so I could sell it to my customers at a reasonable price.

‘Flavocircinalis’ forms a mound 17″ high and 48″ wide at maturity.  Its 9″ by 7″ blue-green leaves have a wide gold margin.  They are heavily corrugated, wavy, and have thick substance.  The attractive white flowers bloom from mid-June into early July.


Those are just some of the new larger hostas available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this year.  If you would like to read more about the larger hostas available for sale, click on any of the following links:

Larger Hostas explains how large leaf hostas take a year to produce mature leaves, gives ideas for using them, and profiles ‘Flavocircinalis’, ‘Earth Angel’, ‘Great Expectations’, and ‘First Frost’.

Larger Hostas Get the Spotlight profiles ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sagae’, and ‘Great Expectations’ with photos of how I have use them in my garden.

Hostas for Fall profiles hostas that hold up to the heat and slugs to look beautiful in fall, including ‘Stained Glass’, ‘Frances Williams’, ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sum and Substance’, ‘Halcyon’, and ‘Praying Hands’, all available this year at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings:  The 2013 Miniature Hosta Mail Order Catalogue, containing over 35 choice selections of miniatures for shipping all over the US, is now on the right sidebar here, and we are ready to ship.  If you are local, you can use the catalogue to see what miniatures are available at the nursery.  Next up is the final open house sale of the season on Saturday, June 1, from 10 am to 3 pm rain or shine, and featuring summer- and fall-blooming shade plants.  If you are a customer, expect an email shortly with all the details.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

43 Responses to “2013 Larger Hostas”

  1. nwphillygardner Says:

    Beyond their beauty in the garden, these big-leafed hosta leaves are great when cut and placed in a vase indoors. You only need a few. One can truly see their sculptural qualities, including the stems in a clear glass vase. And, they last for well over two weeks if you change the water a couple of times.

    • Eric, thanks for another one of your insightful comments. Hosta leaves do indeed make a gorgeous “cut flower”. It was so fun to meet you and visit your wonderful hidden gem of a garden. Carolyn

      • nwphillygardner Says:

        I do hope you’ll be able to visit again without crowds…..I’ve since made one of my “service paths” into a loop rather than a dead end to help loosen up traffic flow. When’s your next Open House?

      • My next open house sale is this Saturday, June 1, from 10 am to 3 pm. Would love to visit without crowds and think the loop sounds like a wonderful improvement.

  2. Carolyn I adore these and have Orange Marmalade..it is gorgeous…and I love that Pineapple Upside Down Cake…I think I planted it but not sure it survived…my beds are very weedy right now. I am fearful that with the loss of my ash trees, the hostas that were below them will be in too sunny a spot…I may have to move them but there will be few shady spots left ….or I may give some away…so sad.

  3. They are beautiful, especially with the Japanese Forest Grass and evergreens. My Sum and Substance this year is huge and Francee is also enormous beside our pond. I love the ‘big guys’.

  4. I love all your Hostas, they certainly are perfect for bringing light and colour into a shady spot. Christina

  5. More lovely large hostas to tempt us all, I am just re-doing the planting in one of my beds at the moment and Dream Queen with Rainforest Sunrise would be excellent, if I can find them over here.

    • Pauline, I am not sure what the hosta selection is like on the other side of the pond. It would be interesting to know if you have the same cultivars available or totally different ones. Carolyn

      • It’s pretty good Carolyn and we are lucky to have Bowden Hostas, a National Collection holding nursery just an hour away, I must go to their website and have a look to see what they have.

      • I thought that the hosta supply would be good but was wondering if it was the same cultivars or different varieties developed in England. Most of the hostas I sell are cultivars selected in the US.

  6. I just planted Rainforest Sunrise this year and Orange Marmalade last year. I can tell by your’s they are both going to be gorgeous! Can’t wait until mine are that size.
    I have Striptease, Blue Angel, and Dream Queen. My Dream Queen in 5-6 years has not added 1 crown. Are they really that slow or does it not like the spot it’s in. It gets all shade. Maybe a little morning sun but not much. Zounds is another one that just hasn’t grown much.

  7. I wish I had more room for the larger hostas! They make such a statement! I also wish I lived closer – I would love to visit your garden some time!

  8. hostas do have such beautiful colours in their foliage, thanks for sharing Carolyn, your yellow and gold garden looks stunning, really shinning out, Frances

  9. Looking good! I’ve noticed that our hostas look particularly lush this year as well. Rainforest Sunrise has been with me for years and has never done much… I should have tried a different location years ago, but never get to it! We have a miserable day with very cold harsh winds that will lead us into the mid-80’s with high humidity… weeds should grow real well after this! Larry

  10. I’m a huge fan of Hostas, and have hundreds of them here. I can’t take credit because they were here when we moved in, but they definitely form the bones of the garden. That ‘Orange Marmalade’ is something special!

  11. I really did admire your hosta garden at the back of your house. They look great in such a mass. Up in WNY, hosta is such an easy plant to grow and every garden has them, so much so that every gardener is dividing them up and dispersing them around neighborhoods. I have some planted my mother-in-law gave me 25 years ago.

    • Donna, Hostas are easy to grow everywhere not just upstate NY—that’s why they have been the best-selling perennial for over 20 years.. They are in every garden down here too. The ones that tend to get divided and dispersed are some of the less desirable varieties. If you are still growing a 25 year old cultivar you should investigate all the wonderful cultivars that have become available since then and consider an addition or replacement. Carolyn

  12. I see I ‘need’ to go shopping – again! Love all your selections with my favorites being those with heavily textured leaves as they seem to be less bothered by slugs, although a deer did take a big bite of of June before spitting it out.

    i’m planning on using some (non-munched) hosta leaves for wedding flower arrangements this year.

  13. So many hostas! I’ve not even heard of these. Very cool. They make me think of nice shade and a glass of lemonade.

  14. Wonderful Hosta selection. They are beautiful.

  15. Hostas, more often than not, I would say this is my favourite garden plant. I like the dwarf ones but its these big ones you show us today which I prefer. I have always been bowled over with the variegated foliage, however I am very taken with the leaves of Blue Angel. Just added Halcyon to our collection of which I know a handful of their names.

    • Alistair, Blue Angel is an all time favorite. I planted Earth Angel, developed from Blue Angel but with a gold margin. After three years it is mature and quite beautiful. Halcyon is the best medium-sized blue hosta and a must in a hosta collection. Carolyn

  16. I am so disheartened about hostas right now. Voles went on a feeding frenzy this year, and I lost a number of my hostas, including two mature Sum and Substance specimens. But I love the Dream Queen! Perhaps I could plant one in a pot?

  17. Hi Carolyn – If I had to name a Hosta after a pudding, it would be Key Lime Pie. Do you have any tips on the best time to divide hostas? Last time I tried it, I failed.

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