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Some gardeners in the UK prefer not to plant Hostas in their gardens due to slug attack. But there are particular varieties to choose from and ways around this. They are one of the best herbaceous perennial plants for light to medium shade, are easy to grow and come in a variety of sizes and colours. They are known in some parts of the world as Plantain Lillies and in Japan as Giboshi.

Hostas are fully hardy, create a great jungle atmosphere in the garden and are perfect by a pond. They like a moisture retentive soil, take about 5 years to reach full size and are very low maintenance. Incorporating organic matter into the soil helps improve the moisture retention, and you could mulch with manure in the winter when the foliage has died back. They can be divided between autumn and mid-springtime, though April is the optimum time.

Image copyright

I just love the different colours of Hostas; the stripes, the bright lime-green yellow ones, and especially the blue varieties. Basically the thicker the leaf, the more slug resistant they are. Slugs and snails find it difficult to bite through them. Particular large varieties to choose for slug resistance are, ‘Big Daddy,’ ‘Gold Regal,’ ‘Halcyon,’ and ‘Liberty.’

Hosta ‘Big Daddy’ AGM

Some gardeners boil up a garlic solution, and once it’s cooled, spray it onto the plants to deter the slugs. Lots of people swear by this method, and sounds like a good idea. Garlic can be sprayed once a week from mid February. We planted Hostas in a customer’s garden in Totterdown, and she hasn’t had any problems with slugs. Her garden has a pond, with an interesting variety of plants and a good wildlife habitat. I imagine that the frogs and other predators are keeping the slug population at bay. It’s all about creating a balanced eco-system in your garden, so that nature will do the work for you.

Hostas can be planted at any time of year that the ground can be worked, but are planted best in the spring when roots are actively growing, or in late summer once the heat has died down.

Small variety, Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’ AGM

There are dwarf varieties that are good for planting in containers, or larger varieties that like to spread. I prefer to see them spreading about shady parts of the garden or along pathways. Different Hosta varieties look good clumped together in the garden, or spread out in different places. They work well intermingled with Primulas and Ferns. Hostas in pots can be attacked by vine weevils which can be problematic, plus you will need to water them frequently in the summer.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ AGM

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ has large dramatic golden leaves that grow up to 1.2 metres, and are perfect if you want to make a statement in the garden. Or you could try Hosta ‘Shade Fanfare,’ which has medium sized leaves up to 50cm in length with white margins and lavender flowers.

Hosta ‘Shade Fanfare’ – image copyright Blooming Nursery

Now is the time to start considering the changes and additions that you would like to make to your garden over the coming months. I love making lists and mood-boards of gardening ideas for the year ahead. What better time to do this than now, with New Years on the horizon?!