Top 10 Favorite Larger Hostas

Hosta 'Stained Glass'One of the most beautiful times in my garden is when the wisteria is in full bloom.  Under it is planted one of my candidates for Top 10 Hostas, ‘Stained Glass’, hosta of the year for 2006.  Available at CSG.

With the latest issue of its beautiful and informative journal, the American Hosta Society sent its members a form asking them to vote for their 10 favorite “regular” hostas and 5 favorite minis.  People often ask me which hostas are my favorites, and the AHS Popularity Poll sent me out into the garden to make a list.  Naturally I brought my camera, and I thought I would show you some of the contenders.  To avoid disappointment, I have indicated which are for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG).  Sadly, some of my favorites are not readily available.

Nursery News:  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  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 'Paul's Glory'Hosta ‘Paul’s Glory, hosta of the year for 1999. Available at CSG.


Hosta 'Paradise Island' & 'Maui Buttercups'Hosta ‘Paradise Island’ on the left and ‘Maui Buttercups’ on the right.  They are not really in contention, but they looked so beautiful together under the ‘Paliban’ lilac.


Hosta 'Paradise Joyce'Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’ hasn’t been available for years, but it really is one of the best.


Hosta 'Eye Declare'Hosta ‘Eye Declare’, here with ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’ erigeron in the foreground and ‘Stainless Steel’ coralbells in the background, may be my favorite big hosta.  Again it is not available in the trade.


Hosta 'First Frost'Hosta ‘First Frost’, 2010 hosta of the year, with its blue and yellow spring coloring is just gorgeous.  Available at CSG.


Hosta 'El Nino'Hosta ‘El Nino’, here with white-flowered hardy geranium, has always been one of my favorites with its unique blue and ivory coloring.  It is difficult to find, but I have it for sale this year.


Hosta 'El Nino'A close up of ‘El Nino’, a star in my silver and blue garden.  Available at CSG.


Hosta 'Great Expectations'Hosta ‘Great Expectations’ really started to thrive when I moved it from full shade to an eastern-facing location.  Available at CSG.


Hosta 'Brother Stefan' Hosta ‘Brother Stefan’ seems to like sun too, here it faces southwest and is paired with ‘Goldheart’ bleeding-heart.  I think it should have been hosta of the year rather than the somewhat similar ‘Paradigm’.  Available at CSG.


Hosta 'Crumb Cake'Hosta ‘Crumb Cake’, here in a container, is definitely on my top ten list.  It is a small hosta, but the leaves are too big for it to qualify as a mini.

There were other contenders not pictured here: ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sagae’ (2000 hosta of the year), ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ (2014 hosta of the year), adorable ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (2008 hosta of the year), whose leaves are also a little too big to be a mini, the amazing ‘Praying Hands’ (2011 hosta of the year), ‘Remember Me’, and H. nigrescens.  I guess I will have to do another post.  I will definitely have to narrow down my list!  That’s all for now but look for another post on my favorite hostas soon.


Nursery Happenings: To order miniature hostas for shipping or pick up at our nursery, click here to access the catalogue.  Our third open house, featuring ferns, hostas, and hardy geraniums is Saturday, May 16, from 10 am to 3 pm.  However, don’t’ wait until then—you can stop by anytime by appointment to purchase these wonderful plants.  Just send me an email at with some suggested dates and times that you would like to visit.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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23 Responses to “Top 10 Favorite Larger Hostas”

  1. Your wisteria is beautiful. I enjoyed seeing your top ten hosta choices, all of them lovely. Of your top ten, I only have one — Paul’s Glory (an excuse to acquire some more hostas?). I am very partial to the more upright, vase-shaped hostas, so I would definitely include H. nigrescens in my own ‘top ten’ list.

  2. Making notes for future reference! 🙂

  3. If Only I could control the voles! They have eaten every hosta I have planted.

  4. I heartily agree with you on the merits of Stained Glass, El Nino and Blue Mouse ears. All are stunners in my Atlanta garden year after year, immune to slugs and burning. Guacamole is another of my favorites for leaves, flowers and fragrance. Major disappointments for me include Abiqua Drinking Gourd (I suppose I could/should move it), several of the Lakeside series (at least in the ground where the slugs feast) and Rainforest Sunrise (slugs win hands down and they a little big for containers for me). Seven year old Great Expectations are finally beginning to deliver on the name on a steep slope under an oak.

    • Liane, I would suggest that you do move Abiqua Drinking Gourd because it thrives in both my shady location under a Japanese maple and a more sunny location on my hosta hill. Just gorgeous and unique, well deserving the hosta of the year award. I really think Great Expectations needs direct sunlight. I don’t have enough experience with Rainforest Sunrise to comment, but I do love Guacamole. Slugs are not a major problem for me. Carolyn

  5. May Belle Rauch Says:

    Are all the Hosta in the photographs large ones? I want to be sure as there was a lot of information about miniatures. I am interested in large ones after much winter damage/loss. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, May Belle Rauch

    Sent from my iPad

    On May 10, 2015, at 9:20 PM, CAROLYN’S SHADE GARDENS wrote: Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens posted: “One of the most beautiful times in my garden is when the wisteria is in full bloom. Under it is planted one of my candidates for Top 10 Hostas, ‘Stained Glass’, hosta of the year for 2006. Available at CSG. With the latest issue of its beautiful and “

  6. Caroly what a great collection! and your wisteria looks faboulous, beautiful image of your garden!

  7. I write to tell you how much I enjoy your posts. Sadly I am not close enough to drop by. But keep those posts up, please. Thank you. Susan Jennifer Johnson

  8. debsgarden Says:

    I have seen both Stained Glass and Great Expectations at local nurseries and had to turn them down because of high price tags. I hope their price will come down as time passes. El Nino may be my favorite of the ones you show. I have not seen that one here. Your selection is awesome! So many times I have wished you were close to me!

    • Deb, That is something that perplexes me about hostas too. I have been selling Great Expectations for over 10 years and the price has not changed at all. However, the place that both of these plants fill in the garden is more like a shrub and the price would easily be justified for a shrub. Carolyn

  9. Hosta are such beautiful and easy to grow plants. In our region, with all the notable hosta hybridizers, some gardens here grow almost exclusively hosta. Even my mouse ear hosta are multiplying. Hosta is one plant that makes a beautiful statement in the garden. So much texture…

  10. Carolyn these are fabulous…I lost so many of the labels on mine….but oh I love the look of El Nino!

  11. Hi Carolyn, so enjoyed this post. I wanted to ask your thoughts on Great Expectations. We planted 3 back in 2000. They get afternoon sun and have grown very large and exceptionally well after all these years! The only issue is all 3 plants are just about completely all green. There are only a few shoots that still have the beautiful variegation. This started happening about 5 years ago with a few new shoots in the spring that were coming up all green and now almost the entire plant is green. The magnificent size is still the same.
    I’m contemplating taking them out and replacing them with new Great Expectations. I hate to wait to have them get to their magnificent mature size, but I really want to. Why did this happen to begin with?

    • Pam, ‘Great Expectations’ is a sport of Hosta sieblodiana ‘Elegans’ which is blue green. Sometimes hostas that are sports will start to revert to the “parent” plant. When they do the reversions are much stronger than the sport so the plant sends all its energy there and the reversion outcompetes the original plant. The same thing happens with daylilies. I often here customers say my pink daylily turned orange. What really happened was the orange reversion killed the pink part of the plant. It sounds like what you have now is ‘Elegans’ which is actually much larger than ‘Great Expectations’. You can either cut off the ‘Elegans’ part or get new ‘Great Expectations’ plants. If this ever happens again, cut out the reversion as soon as you see it.

      We are goingto Cape May for our anniversary and staying at the B&B you recommended. Any tips? Carolyn

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