Archive for hostas for fall

Hostas for Fall

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, hosta, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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 'Remember Me'Hosta ‘Remember Me’ looks absolutely spectacular in the fall when its colors deepen and its pristine leaves shine.  All photos were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this fall.  Click any photo to enlarge.

In my last two articles, A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit and A Few Fall Favorites for Flowers, I explained that, inspired by an article about dressing up your fall garden with mums because everything else is finished, I grabbed my camera and headed outside to prove them wrong.  There was so much going on that I divided the plants into three posts: foliage and fruit, flowers, and hostas.  This is part three highlighting hostas.

When you choose a hosta for your garden, I am guessing you are not going for this look in fall.

One reason I started what I like to call my free, on line, shade gardening magazine (AKA blog) was to force myself to document my gardening knowledge in photographs and print.  This article is a perfect example.  Every fall I walk around my gardens saying: “I really should photograph the hostas that still look good in the fall,” but I never do it.  This information is very important when choosing hostas especially if you have a small garden and can’t afford to allocate space to a plant that provides no ornamental value for one third of the season like the specimens in the photo above.  So, for the record, here are some of the hostas dressing up my shady gardens right now:

I don’t expect my hostas to look perfect in the fall, although some do.  Even though ‘Frances Williams’ is slightly tattered, its bold colors and stately habit make it a winner in my fall garden.

There is another very important point I would like to make about hostas.  New is not the equivalent of better or even good.  Gardeners will often remark about a hosta like ‘Frances Williams’, which was first registered in 1986, that it is an old hosta with the implication that we should have all moved on by now.  If I had to, I would gladly trade in many of my newer hostas for a plant as unique in habit, leaf shape, and color as ‘Frances Williams’ (even with its tendency to brown slightly at the edges).  The breeders have yet to come up with a new hosta this beautiful and tough.

Like all blue-leaved hostas, Hosta ‘Blue Umbrellas’ turns greener in the fall, but who cares when it looks like this?

Thanks to my commenter Louise Thompson for mentioning slug resistance.  One of the primary reasons that these hostas look so good in the fall is that they are resistant to slugs.  Most of them tend to have thicker leaves that just hold up better to whatever nature throws at them.  Please read my reply to Louise for information about controlling slugs.  I don’t do anything to control slugs except plant resistant hostas. 

Talk about perfect, Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’.

Hosta ‘El Nino’ in my silver and blue garden.  If you want to see what it looks like in June, click here.

Hosta ‘Stained Glass’, which was the Hosta of the Year for 2006, just glows in the fall.  One way to choose really good hostas is to select cultivars chosen as hosta of the year by the American Hosta Growers Association.  There are over 6,000 (some say 10,000) hosta cultivars out there, and only 17 have received this honor.  I grow 13 of the winners, and they certainly deserved to be chosen.  To see all the winners, click here.

Another “old” hosta, ‘Blue Angel’ was registered in 1986 and, in my opinion, is the best large blue cultivar–outstanding habit, leaves, and white flowers.  It is the parent of ‘Earth Angel’, the 2009 Hosta of the Year.

The long-lasting gold leaves of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’, the 2004 Hosta of the Year, can reach 2 feet across while the clump can exceed 6 feet in width.

Hosta ‘June’ was the 2001 Hosta of the Year and is the favorite hosta of my nursery customers.  ‘Remember Me’ in the top photo is one of its “children”.

Hosta ‘Halcyon’ registered in 1988, is a beautiful medium-sized blue hosta (aging to green in the fall), but it is also important as the parent of ‘June’, ‘El Nino’, and ‘Paradise Joyce’, among other wonderful cultivars.

Most gold-leaved hostas turn green in the fall, but not ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’.

Hosta ‘Praying Hands’, the 2011 Hosta of the Year, will stay outside in this ceramic container all winter.  I find that ‘Praying Hands’ multiplies much faster in a container than in the ground.

Hosta ‘Paul’s Glory’, the 1999 Hosta of the Year, also looks best in the fall when its bright colors light up the shade.

Hosta ‘Inniswood’ is a 1993 gold-leafed introduction that puts many newer cultivars to shame.

There are many more medium and large hostas that I could have featured as ornamental in the fall including my favorite, Hosta tokudama and all its cultivars.  For more information on larger hostas and how to use them, click here.

Now for some fall stars among the miniatures, my current hosta passion.  For more information on miniature hostas and how to incorporate them into your garden, click here.

If you have read my article on Miniature Hostas, you know I am a sucker for the Mouse Ears series, here Hosta ‘Mighty Mouse’.

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the 2008 Hosta of the Year.

Hosta ‘Little Sunspot’ is growing in one of the 16 pouches in my strawberry jar.  One look at this collection will show you that all miniatures are not created equal in terms of their fall appearance.

All my hosta containers, including this pot of Hosta ‘Pixie Vamp’, will stay out all winter.

Like all plants, hostas should be chosen to provide ornamental value from the time they come up in the spring until frost.  You can choose any of the hostas above for your garden and be confident of a long season of interest.


This is the third article I have written on hostas.  The first two are:

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

Larger Hostas

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.

Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  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.

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