Archive for Hosta ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’

Fun with Mini Hostas in Containers

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, How to, miniature hosta, my garden, New Plants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

You can use all sorts of fun containers to house your mini hostas.  Here ‘Lakeside Cupcake’ and ‘Teaspoon’ (back row) and ‘Sun Mouse’ and ‘Munchkin Fire’ (front row) join mini hosta companion plants dwarf Solomon’s seal, European ginger, and dwarf lady fern in an old toolbox.

In May 2011, I wrote my fourth most popular post called Miniature (& Small) Hostas.  In it I introduced a number of mini hostas and showed how to use them in the ground and in containers.  To read it, click here.  In this post, I continue the container theme with some new pots and some new plants in the old pots.

Nursery News:  Our traditional Memorial Weekend open hours are Friday, May 26 from 1 to 3 pm, and Saturday, May 27, from 10 am to 1 pm, rain or shine, cash or checks only.  Customers have gotten details in an email.  The 2017 Mini Hosta Catalogue is on line, and we are taking orders for pick up and mail order, click here.  For announcements of future events, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to  Let us know if you are local or mail order only.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


‘Twist of Lime’ in a flea market metal milk pitcher.

Whether you use a smaller container with a single plant like ‘Twist of Lime’ above or a collection of plants like those featured in the toolbox at the top, there are some important rules to follow.  First you must provide adequate drainage.  We drill holes in the bottom of our containers and then cover them with pieces of broken terra cotta pots so they don’t get clogged.  A layer of broken terra cotta in the bottom is even better.


‘Curly Fries’ continues to live in its re-purposed oil can.  It would be bigger and fuller in the ground, but I think it is perfect for this container.

Second, if you intend to leave the containers outside for the winter, which is what I do, they must be made of a material that can withstand freezing like stone, metal, concrete, plastic, or high quality glazed ceramic.  The plants in the container must also be able to withstand freezing, which hostas and all the companion plants I use are able to do.  I store the large containers in place and move the small ones to a protected area and cover them with pine needles.


Two small hostas with contrasting habits make good container companions, here ‘Stiletto’ and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.


Dwarf Solomon’s seal thrives in containers with hostas, filling in nicely.  This container has been going strong for six years.


A small trough with a selection of rock garden plants and featuring ‘Pandora’s Box’ hosta (lower left corner) wintered over perfectly on the wall by my front steps.

Third, the container must be filled with a potting medium that drains well.  Thanks to Janet Novak (who created this container) of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (DVC-NARGS), I use a mix of one third ProMix, one third vermiculite, and one third small gravel like coarse builders sand or turkey grit.  The DVC-NARGS is a great organization with wonderful speakers and events.  If you are local you should consider joining, click here

Those are the basics: now it is up to you to fill the pots.  Here are some ideas from my containers:


A close up view of my toolbox, showing the contrasting textures, colors, and habits of the hostas, ginger, Solomon’s seal, and fern.


This is a view of the top of my glazed strawberry pot filled with 17 different mini hostas.


I have had this dish garden in full shade along my front steps for years.  It features the bright gold of ‘Appletini’ and ‘Cracker Crumbs’ mini hostas, among others, and ‘Purple Form’ and ‘Tricolor’ sedum along with European ginger, which adds great shiny, round texture.


This antique stone trough filled with Mouse Ears hostas, my personal favorites, has been going for years too.  This end holds ‘Holy Mouse Ears’, ‘Green Mouse Ears’, and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, among others.

A view of the other end of the Mouse Ears trough, featuring clockwise from upper left: dwarf Solomon’s seal, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, dwarf lady fern, ‘Sunny Mouse Ears’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Voodoo’ purple sedum, and ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’.


There will be hand-carved, antique, solid stone troughs for sale on Saturday at the open house for you to use to create you own containers filled with a colorful collection of minis and companions.  Four are available, first come, first served!

I hope you can stop by on Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm and see all my mini hostas containers in my garden. They are a lot of fun!



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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.

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.


Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The 2016 Miniature Hosta Mail Order Catalogue, containing choice selections of miniatures for shipping all over the US, is now on my right sidebar here, and we are ready to ship.


'Holy Mouse Ears'It is very hard for me to pick a favorite mouse ears hosta, but I think ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ is it.  The colors in the leaves are magical.

My post Miniature (& Small) Hostas is the most popular article I have ever written for my blog.  In that post, I described how, when I discovered miniature hostas, I reached a new level of hosta addiction.  I try not to purchase (five of) every new miniature hosta I can get my hands on, but it’s a struggle.  Luckily my nursery allows me to mask this addiction as “business development”.  Now I specialize in miniature hostas, and mail order them all over the US.


Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the parent of all the miniature hostas in the mouse ears clan.  It is so special that in 2008, the American Hosta Growers Association named it the Hosta of the Year.

The miniature hosta that really took me over the edge was ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.  It was definitely love at first sight.  I fell for the very blue, very round, very rubbery leaves and the perfectly symmetrical habit.  When ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ emerges from the ground, it is in a cluster so tight it looks like a rose.  It reaches about 6″ in height and scoffs at the idea of slugs as do all the mouse ears hostas.  Most days I stop on my garden ramble to touch its thick leaves.  To me they feel like mouse ears, not that I have ever felt one.

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ emerging in the spring.

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is a descendant of ‘Blue Cadet’, which is a beautiful small blue hosta with very clean leaves and an elegant habit.  Boy was I in trouble though, because ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ was only the beginning.    As is the nature of hostas, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ has given rise to a whole family of little mice.  All of them are between 5 and 8″ tall and form a clump about 12″ wide.  Technically, some of them get slightly larger than what the “authorities” consider mini.  Their unique characteristics are their very round rubbery leaves and their symmetrical habits.  However, I may be prejudiced by my love of mice, but I think these little gems have some of the best leaf colors of any hostas on the market.

‘Mouse Trap’ is one of the newer mice to hit the market.  Its bright white leaves with a blue-green border are striking.

Naturally I had to have all the mouse ears hostas in my collection, and my quest began.  I now have seven mice and have located a source for two more, ‘Royal Mouse Ears’ and ‘Calico Mouse Ears’, which I will be ordering shortly.  While researching this post, I found a Rutgers University site with the hysterical name of Hosta Garden Mouse Index.  The photos are not very good, but it seems to list all the mouse ears hostas available.  Apparently my quest will last a while longer.

Photos of three of my mice appear above, and here are the remaining four:

I think ‘Mighty Mouse’ has the cutest name in the mouse ears series.

This early spring photo of ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ does not do it justice.  It matures to a dark green leaf with a wide white margin.

‘Green Mouse Ears’ is the smallest in the family with very shiny, thick bright green leaves.  Don’t you want to touch it?

‘Mouse Tracks’ is my latest acquisition, and I love its tie dye swirls of yellow, green, and blue.  It is a child of ‘Mighty Mouse’ and very rare.

I haven’t mentioned one of the wonderful features of the mouse ears hostas, their flowers.  Instead of having the long, dangly, out-of-proportion flowers that are produced by some miniatures, the mice have short, fat flowers in proportion to their size as illustrated by the photo below.  I grow them for their flowers too, which is something I can’t say about most hostas.


‘Holy Mouse Ears’ in bloom

Of course my mice deserved a special place in the garden where touring customers could view them up close and admire their cuteness (is that a word?).  What better place than the trough that my husband gave me for our anniversary.  My mice nest happily there:

‘Green Mouse Ears’ upper left, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ middle, ‘Mighty Mouse’ middle right, ‘Mouse Trap’ lower left, ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ lower right.  The companion plants are dwarf Solomon’s seal and miniature lady fern.

The whole mouse ears family.

It is easy to add mice to your garden, and they will bring a smile to your face for the whole season.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens specializes in miniature hostas.  I have 25 varieties available at my nursery right now.  I am thinking of starting a mail order business for miniatures.  If you would like to mail order some this year and help me test out my plan, click here (US only).


Nursery Happenings:  If you are interested in receiving miniature hostas mail order, click here.

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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

Posted in hosta, How to, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The 2016 Miniature Hosta Mail Order Catalogue, containing choice selections of miniatures for shipping all over the US, is now on my right sidebar here, and we are ready to ship.


'Holy Mouse Ears'‘Holy Mouse Ears’: the miniature hostas in the mouse ears series are my favorites.

I am in stage four of my relationship with hostas.  I have noticed that many of my customers go through these stages too.  Stage one was when I was a new gardener.  I discovered hostas and loved them because they are easy to grow and to divide to make more.  I had the green one, the green and white one, the blue one, the variegated one, and the gold one.  If you know hostas, you can probably guess fairly easily which varieties I had.  I still love these hostas and have large patches of them in my gardens.

‘Lakeside Cupcake’ was a new small hosta for me in 2010 and is a strong grower.

During stage two, I became more “sophisticated”.  Hostas were too easy to grow, too ordinary, and multiplied too quickly for my control-oriented gardening style.  Besides I wanted flowers, flowers, and more flowers, and hostas just didn’t fit the bill.  I didn’t like them anymore.  How could people collect such a boring and ordinary plant?

“Carolyn’s Gold”: I selected this miniature hosta from a chance seedling that appeared in my gardens.  It is the brightest gold I have ever seen.

I rediscovered hostas in stage three when I got beyond flowers and realized how important foliage is to the garden, especially the shade garden.  I learned that hostas did not come in just the five basic varieties but in an infinite number of combinations of colors, heights, widths, leaf shapes, flowers, and habits.  Somewhere I read that there are 6,000 hosta cultivars.  I wanted them all so I began to collect hostas. 

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the miniature hosta that started the mouse ears family.  Not only is it shaped like a mouse ear, but it feels like one too (all in my imagination because I have never felt a mouse ear).  It was designated the 2008 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Growers Association–a very high honor.

I entered stage four about the time that my hosta acquisitions topped 100 cultivars.  This is just a modest assemblage because you really aren’t considered a hosta collector until you have over 500 varieties in your garden.  But I was running out of room.  Besides I am not a true collector of any group of plants because I am not satisfied with one of any perennial in my garden.  I need at least five, but preferably seven, of any plant to make an impact.  Many hostas are quite large, and five ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sum and Substance’, or ‘Sagae’, which are favorites of mine, with six foot wide clumps and 15″ leaves, take up a lot of room.  Were my collecting days over?

Clockwise from upper left: small ‘Blonde Elf’  and miniatures ‘Little Wonder’, ‘Rock Princess’, and a hosta sold to me as ‘Little Blue’.

That’s when I discovered miniature hostas.  The American Hosta Society defines  miniature hostas as having a leaf no larger than 4 sq. in.   The discovery of miniature hostas allowed me to indulge my passion for collecting hostas, which only got worse in stage four, without taking up all the space in my garden.  And they are so incredibly cute and have such adorable names: ‘Holy Mouse Ears’, ‘Pixie Vamp’, ‘Blonde Elf’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Alakazaam’, ‘Cookie Crumbs’, ‘Rock Princess’.  How can you resist?

‘Mighty Mouse’ is one of the newer members of the mouse ears family.

I remain firmly mired in stage four and don’t know what comes after it, maybe Hostas Anonymous.  But in the meantime, I want to show you some of my favorite miniatures (see photos above and below) and suggest some ideas for displaying miniature and small hostas.

‘Little Treasure’ is new to me this year and has a unique leaf shape and blue-green color.

Because they are so little, most miniature and small hostas can’t be thrown into the garden willy-nilly but benefit from some planning to show them off.  Many also require specialized growing conditions, but those cultivars don’t survive at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens where nothing gets fussed over.  I display my absolute favorite miniature hostas in their own container to really highlight them.  An added benefit is that  hostas multiply more rapidly in containers:

I have shown this photo of ‘Crumb Cake’ before, but it demonstrates how a single unusual plant in a container can be so pleasing.  ‘Crumb Cake’ and all the other hostas pictured in containers in this post also do well in the ground–a requirement for inclusion at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

‘Pixie Vamp’: This miniature has elegant mahogany-colored flower scapes that match this container.  I leave all these pots outside all winter.  Hostas overwinter fine as long as their containers can be left outside without cracking.

I think ‘Praying Hands’, the 2011 Hosta of the Year, looks best in a container.  It reminds me of pitcher plants without the hassle of creating a bog.  Pictured here with dwarf Solomon’s seal, Polygonatum humile, another plant that thrives over the winter in containers.

“Carolyn’s Malex Two” is another hosta I selected that grows so slowly in the ground that I have never sold it.  Its position in the top of my antique strawberry pot highlights its delicate coloring and allows it to multiply faster than it would in the ground.

The straight species Hosta tokudama has the bluest leaves of any hosta and lives in this terra cotta container on my porch.

You don’t necessarily have to buy containers for your hostas.  ‘Hanky Panky’, a very unusually colored small hosta, has grown for years in my old dogwood stump.

‘Alakazaam’ has found a home in the chiseled out knot hole of a weathered sycamore branch.  My youngest son crafted this “container” for me for Mother’s Day.

Several miniature hostas can be combined in a larger container:

This dish, which I leave out all winter even though it is terra cotta (don’t do this at home!), contains the miniatures  (clockwise from upper left) ‘Cracker Crumbs’, ‘Shiny Penny’, and ‘Shining Tot’ with ‘Praying Hands’, sedum, hens and chicks, rosularia, and miniature dianthus.

My antique strawberry pot has 16 pockets with a different miniature hosta in each one.  Pictured are (top row left to right) ‘Cameo’, ‘Cracker Crumbs’, and ‘Twist of Lime’, (middle row) ‘Little Blue’, ‘Shining Tot’, and ‘Porter’, and (bottom row) ‘Shiny Penny’, ‘Hope, and “Carolyn’s Tiny Gold”.

My husband gave me this antique trough for our anniversary.  It is a perfect setting for my mouse ears collection.  Pictured are (front left to right) ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ and ‘Mouse Trap’, (center) ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, and (back) ‘Green Mouse Ears’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, and ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’, all with dwarf Solomon’s seal.

Hostas thrive between rocks and in rock gardens:

The 2010 Hosta of the Year ‘First Frost’ in my rock garden with (left to right) variegated money plant (Lunaria annua ‘Alba Variegata’), Helleborus cyclophyllus, and yellow wax-bells (Kirengoshoma palmata).

‘Little Aurora’ (upper left) and ‘Cookie Crumbs’ (lower right) in my rock garden with (left to right) ‘Red Lady’ hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus ‘Red Lady’), pink violets (Viola species), and spring-blooming hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen coum).

Miniature and small hostas can be massed for maximum effect and to create groundcover:

‘Kabitan’ (lower right) massed with (left to right) ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, 2009 Hosta of the Year ‘Earth Angel’, Spanish bluebells (Scilla campanulata ‘Excelsior’), yellow corydalis (Corydalis lutea), and fern-leafed corydalis (Corydalis cheilanthifolia).

“Carolyn’s Gold” (lower left) and ‘Lemon Lime’ (upper right) used as groundcover.

‘Twist of Lime’ (lower right) massed with (left to right) sweet violet (Viola odorata), red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum), and ‘Fantasy Island’.

I hope I have given you some good ideas for using miniature and small hostas in your garden.  I would be very interested to hear in a comment/reply which miniatures you like and how you use them.


For two more articles on hostas, click here:

Larger Hostas

Hostas for Fall

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.

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