Archive for hostas in containers

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!



Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

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.

2013 New Miniature and Small Hostas

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2013 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.


miniature hosta toolbox 2My latest container for mini hostas is an old handymans’s toolbox that was hanging around.  In it are clockwise from upper left: ‘Thumbelina’, ‘Teaspoon’, dwarf Solomon’s seal, sedum, ‘Rock Prince’, ‘Cherish’, dwarf lady fern, and ‘Regal Tot’.  the surface is covered by moss collected from my roof.  More about containers at the end of the post.


My nursery, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, specializes in miniature and small hostas.  I even have a mail order business shipping miniature hostas all over the U.S.  For mail order details or, if you are local, a list of the over 35 miniature and small hostas available at the nursery, click here.  I have also written extensively about minis and links to the articles are at the end of this post.  Now I want to profile some of the new little hostas available this year.


Hosta 'Dragon Tails'‘Dragon Tails’ is one of my new favorites, and if you use your imagination you can see why it was named that.  It forms an arching, tight clump  7″ tall and 14 ” wide at maturity.  Its golden leaves are 5″ long and 1″ wide, lance-shaped, heavily rippled, and tapering to a point.    It is supposed to look great draping over the edge of a trough.


Hosta 'Green Eyes'‘Green Eyes’ is a seedling of ‘Kabitan’, another wonderful little hosta.  It is 5″ tall and 12 ” wide at maturity.  Its leaves are pale yellow with a narrow green margin and 3″ long and 1″ wide.  They are lance-shaped, rippled, and tapering.    It is said to be sun tolerant.


Hosta 'Hi Ho Silver'I would grow ‘Hi Ho Silver’ for the name alone.  It is 8″ tall and 12″ wide at maturity.  Its lance-shaped leaves are medium green with a wide, bright white margin that extends down the leaf stalk, and 6″ long and 2″ wide.  It forms a loose clump and needs shade.


Hosta 'Little Treasure'‘Little Treasure’  is  6” tall and 16” wide at maturity.  Its leaves, which are 4 ½” long by 2” wide, have a very striking, blue margin with a creamy white center.  The leaves twist for a unique overall look.  Although it is a standout in my garden, it is one of those hostas that doesn’t look like much in a nursery pot.


Hosta 'Pandora's Box'‘Pandora’s Box’ is a very beautiful and unique miniature hosta.  It forms a striking, tight clump reaching 8″ high and 19″ wide at maturity.  Its heart-shaped, bright white leaves have an irregular blue-green margin and are 2 1/2″ long and 2″ wide.  It is an offshoot of ‘Baby Bunting’ and will occasionally form all blue-green leaves which should be removed.  Its only drawback is that it is more difficult to grow than the average mini due to all the white in its leaves which reduces photosynthesis.  It is said to do much better in a container and should not be planted in the ground.


Hosta 'Regal Tot'‘Regal Tot’ forms a neat and compact mound 5 ½” tall by 17” wide.  Its elegant cupped and corrugated leaves are 4” long by 3” wide.  Unlike most hostas, which age to green, it is chartreuse when it comes out and becomes more and more gold as the season progresses.  A truly regal form of ‘Shining Tot’, its dark green parent.


Hosta 'Ruffled Mouse Ears'‘Ruffled Mouse Ears’ is the latest addition to the “mouse ears” clan of hostas, my favorite minis.  An off shoot of ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, it has the same round, thick, rubbery leaves 2 3/4″ long and 2 1/2″ wide but with rippled and frilled margins.   It was introduced this year so I only have the photo of my own immature plant above to show you.  However, all the mouse ears cultivars are excellent plants with a very unique look.  At maturity, it forms a mound 6″ high and 14″ wide.  If you would like to read more about mouse ears hostas, click here for my post entitled I LOVE Mice.


Hosta 'Shiro Kabitan'‘Shiro Kabitan’ (often sold as ‘Haku Chu Chan’) really brightens up the shade with its bright white foliage with a narrow green margin.  The slightly twisted, ribbon-like leaves are 4 1/2″ long and 1 1/2″ wide.  Despite all the white, it spreads quickly to form a small dense mound 6″ high and 18″ wide at maturity.  It makes a very colorful edging and prefers dappled shade.


Hosta 'Stiletto'‘Stiletto’ is another small hosta that can’t be mistaken for any other.  Its shiny dark green leaves with a narrow yellow to creamy white margin are 5 1/2″ long and 1 1/2″ wide.  They are noticeably rippled and wavy.  This fast-growing, adaptable hosta forms a mound 12″ high and 24″ wide at maturity.  It is great for edging and forms a dense mini-hedge along a path or border.


Hosta 'Teaspoon'‘Teaspoon’ is a hosta that stands out from the crowd with its unique cupped, bright green leaves that look, yes, like a teaspoon.  The almost completely round leaves are 2 3/4″ long and 2 1/2″ wide.  It forms a dense and neat mound 11″ high and 24″ wide at maturity.  It is fast-growing and makes an outstanding specimen.


Hosta 'Woodland Elf'‘Woodland Elf’  grows quickly to form a compact mound 5″ high and 15” wide at maturity.  The waved and cupped leaves are 2 ¼” long and 1 ½” wide.  They are medium green with a white margin.  ‘Woodland Elf’ has a  beautiful upright habit and is great in troughs and excellent for edging.


Those are just some of the new little hostas available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this year.  Many of them are excellent plants for the front of the border or for edging paths.  However, the real minis look best when they are specially displayed in an area of the garden set aside for them with suitable sized companion plants like smaller epimediums, dwarf ferns, sedums, hens and chicks, or dwarf Solomon’s seal.  I have a special rock garden just for my minis—don’t miss it when you visit next.


DSCN0193Another view of the new mini garden featured at the start of this post.


The other way to display miniature hostas is in a container.  If the container can take freezing, you can leave it outside, minis and all, for the whole winter with no special protection.  That’s what we do with all our containers at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  As I explained in detail in my post Hosta Containers and Companions (to read it click here), you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune buying a fancy pot for your hostas.  Any old object collecting dust in your attic can be converted to a mini hosta container garden.  We have used everything from the toolbox above to the oil can below.


Hosta I made this container last year, and you should see how beautiful it is this spring after being out all winter.


If you would like to read more about little hostas, click on any of the following links:

Miniature (& Small) Hostas


Beyond Mice

Hostas Containers and Companions



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, 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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings: The 2015 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.

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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