Q. I would like to find out if there is a hosta plant that can grow in full sun in the Chicago area. We have hostas on the north and east sides of our house that have grown well every year for the past nine years. This year I would like to put some hostas in pots in the backyard on the south side of the house.
The sun is hot there all day long, so I will need a variety that tolerates full sun almost all day. Can you tell me if there is such a variety?
— Earl Russell, Carol Stream
A. Hostas are great plants for a low-maintenance garden, with many varieties to choose from. Though they are considered shade-tolerant plants, most will not thrive if grown in deep shade. Many hostas are more vigorous and will show best colors when given some exposure to sun, such as morning sun with afternoon shade. Full sun in the morning is less intense than full sun in early afternoon. Late afternoon sun will most likely be fine too.
Still, hostas are not plants that I would normally recommend for a full-sun south exposure where it will be hot and likely dry. You should be prepared to do some trial and error with different varieties and be willing to provide extra water long-term to keep hostas going in your backyard.
Watch out for symptoms of too much sun, such as browning at the outside edges of leaves and dull or faded colors. After the removal of a tree increased the afternoon sun, my blue hostas at home became stunted, more green than blue and burned at leaf edges.
The best you can hope for will be a hosta that can tolerate your site, rather than performing well there. Hosta varieties with extensive white coloration or with thin leaves are likely to burn in full sun. In general, blue-leaf hostas require shade, while those with fragrant flowers, gold or yellow foliage or slight white variegation can tolerate more sun.
Consider trying the following hosta varieties for your garden:
Yellow-tinged foliage: “Sun Power,” “Gold Standard” or “Gold Regal”;
Fragrant flowers: “Guacamole,” “Royal Standard” or “Fragrant Bouquet'”
With white variegation: “Francee” or “Patriot”
If the hostas you try suffer in the south side of your garden, these tough plants are easy to move to a more suitable, better-shaded location.
- Hostas for Full Sun
- Sun Tolerant Hostas
- Hosta Varieties that Fare better in Sunny Areas
- Varieties of Sun Tolerant Hostas
- Characteristics to look for:
- What you Give Up:
- Hosta Varieties to Avoid in Sunny Areas
- One Last Tip
- Sun Tolerant Hostas: Popular Hostas To Grow In Sun
- About Hostas for Sunny Spots
- Hostas for Sun
- Hostas for Sun
- Hostas: Plant in shade or plant in sun
Hostas for Full Sun
We are always asked by hosta fanatics what varieties they can grow in full sun. Although the ideal conditions for hostas are shady and damp there are some varieties that can perform very well when planted in a sunny spot. We would usually recommend that you aim to grow your hostas in partial shade but if you do choose to plant in a sunny position here are a few ideas of varieties you can use.
(Hosta ‘Sun Power’ grown in full sun)
Hosta ‘Sun Power’ is a great example of how some varieties are better in the sun. ‘Sun Power’ has bright golden leaves and forms an impress mound at full size. Usually best to plant in the ground as apposed to a pot as ‘Sun Power’ is a large variety that needs space.
If grown in the shade ‘Sun Power’ stays a chartreuse green and does not get as bright and yellow as it would in the sun.
(Hosta plantaginea ‘Aphrodite’)
Hosta plantaginea ‘Aphrodite’ is another varieties that needs plenty of sun. It especially needs this to produce it’s beautiful fragrant flowers. If planted in an overly shaded position ‘Aphrodite’ would not produce as many flowers which are one of the main attributes of the variety.
Plant in a position that gets full some for part of the day, this way you will get the beautiful flowers without the leaves burning to early in the season.
(Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ mid Spring)
Much like hosta ‘Sun Power’ the beautiful hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ is a great grower in full sun. It’s large chartreuse leaves turn brighter throughout the Spring and Summer, in the shade this would be a much slower process and by Autumn the leaves would still not get to the bright gold they would be if grown in the Sun.
‘Sum and Substance’ is an extremely popular hosta due to the fact it is versatile, easy to grow and a show stopper in the garden!
Always remember, hostas in full sun will require more watering then hostas in the shade especially in their first year.
If you would like any further information on these varieties, growing hostas in full sun or would like some more ideas then please feel free to ask.
Sun Tolerant Hostas
Is there such a thing as sun tolerant Hostas? Find out which varieties fare better in sunny areas and those to avoid plus growing tips for “sun” Hostas. I have also written about how to use hostas in a perennial bed border.
How many times have you been on a garden tour and have seen a Hosta variety that you remember for days? It is what makes avid gardeners take their pencil and paper along to these outings and write down all the names of the excellent varieties they want to add to their own flower beds. However it can be difficult to duplicate the planting conditions and sun exposure.
Many times each year someone that visits our home will ask me about “Sun Hostas” and mention they have heard or read there were some new Hostas that were good to plant in the sun.
I always tell them, no, there are no “Sun Hostas” but that some of the varieties are able to stand more sun than others. The person asking always seems disappointed when I tell them that there are no specific Hosta varieties bred to consider it a plant for full sun.
I too would love to purchase a Hosta that would thrive in the hot sun in the south west corner of a building!
Hosta Varieties that Fare better in Sunny Areas
Not all is lost though, as many of the heavy rugose leaved Hostas will withstand more sun than others. Varieties that are better suited for hot sun places are Halcyon, August Moon, Sum & Substance, Sun Power and ones like Big Daddy with large corrugated leaves. Also, June, Touch of Class, Gold Regal, King Tut, Lady Isobel Barnett, Krossa Regal, Paradigm, Elaitor, Nigrescens, Komodo Dragon, Montana, (the species all green variety) and Bressingham Blue.
Mostly you have to try it in your setting and soil to see how things work. If there isn’t any afternoon shade, then probably plant something different in that spot or use some man-made shade.
Varieties of Sun Tolerant Hostas
There may be more, but these I have in my gardens and so can say they are quite sun tolerant.
- August Moon
- Sum & Substance
- September Sun
- Sun Power
- Big Daddy
- Touch of Class
- Gold Regal
- King Tut
- Lady Isobel Barnett
- Montana (all green species)
- Bressingham Blue
- Krossa Regal
Characteristics to look for:
- Thicker leaf texture – the thicker the better
- Corrugated leaves
- Look for larger varieties with more root mass to absorb more water
What you Give Up:
- Will possibly lose their dark bluish coloring
- May have sunburn around edges of leaves
- May also have sunburn holes in the middle of the leaves
- May lose their glaucus bloom (powder coating) in the leaves
- May lose their bluish color
I had for years Halcyon planted in probably 85% full sun, hot west sun in the afternoon, and they survived just fine each year. They would burn some, but not bad for all that sun. (These were out in the open, not next to a cement walk or foundation that generates temperatures 10 to 15 degrees hotter.)
They however, did not retain their nice bluish color in that full sun. I wanted them for a mass planting and didn’t care that they weren’t as blue as Halcyon should be, but wanted them more for their floral display in August! En masse, Halcyon can be one of the better floral displays for Hostas.
Hosta Varieties to Avoid in Sunny Areas
Any Hosta with a thin leaf texture (the ones the slugs like best) either greens or golds or variegated, will not take a lot of sun, and will burn in too much sun. However, if they are in too deep shade, that is not good either as they do need some light to grow well.
What to Avoid:
- Thin leaf texture
- Green or Gold Variegated Leaves
I have found that water and soil is the tweekable items to getting Hostas to be able to withstand more sunlight. This is what all the books say, and what all the speakers say, is that they need at least an inch of water per week to maintain healthy plants.
The leaves are so large and water evaporates so fast from them that they need to receive much extra water. Not just a cup or two when you think of it, but even lots more water when the temperature gets over that 90 degree mark.
And, when the clumps get over 5 years old, the roots are fighting for all the soil and water they can as they get so root bound.
Planting Tips for Growing Hostas in Sun
- Give them plenty of water (soak older root bound plants) Put the hose on the root ball area of the plant and let it run slowly for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Good quality soil (lots of compost please!)
- Man-Made Shade
Many years I have a tendency to believe the weather man saying it is going to rain the next day and so won’t go through the work of watering the ones I know need extra water, and then the rain will go around us, and then a day or two will go by without the extra moisture they need. This is when Hostas start to deteriorate. I have seen amazing things happen and the plant comes back to life when they are given plenty of water on time when they need it.
Soil is the second thing that plants need almost more than moisture, as with good soil filled with compost, retains water readily.
We did some house renovation on our house in the past few years, and in replanting two beds, we had to purchase “black dirt” to fill in for the beds next to the house.
I was beside myself with joy when I planted the new beds and in each hole I dug, I put a half pail of compost and then filled in with the new loose soil! It was such a hot dry summer, and all the older beds were hard clay and plants in them, couldn’t be persuaded to be moved, and this was the first time I had ever had a new bed with new soi
I had amended soil in the old beds, but it never was like planting in nice loose soil. It was just like gardening programs on television! I could see after about a month, into August, that the Hostas were starting to take hold and really did well, even with the hot weather continuing. I watered them all at least once each week, some of the miniatures and smaller varieties more often, even every day.
(I use a pail of water and an 8 oz. plastic glass and pour a small amount on the little ones, and then go back again. If the temperature is at 90 or above, the water evaporates very quickly.)
You can also use man-made shade too, with trellises or vintage gates set in the garden, with vines making the shade needed for a hosta. Pergolas too, add much interest and focus on the gardens, as well as the shade again.
One Last Tip
One of the best ways to tell if a specific Hosta variety fares well in sun is to go to your local nursery in August and look at the Hostas. Check the leaves closely and see which varieties do not have burnt leaves. You can also do this while on a garden tour or when visiting friends.
Make sure that the ones you are looking at have actually been in the hot sun and are out of protected elements.
Hostas are primarily known as shade plants. However there are varieties that can tolerate a certain amount of direct sunlight, especially morning or very late afternoon sun. The hot, direct midday sun has a tendency to fade the bright colors of the leaves or in some cases even burn them. As a rule of thumb, the darker the leaves of a hosta, the less sun it can tolerate. Therefore, keep the dark green and blue leafed varieties in mostly shade. There are exceptions to the rule, so refer to the Sun Tolerant Hostas topic in the Help Pages or ask for help if you want hostas for a more sunny location.
Hostas can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions from very moist soils to near drought conditions. However, like most plants they perform best in well drained soils with adequate moisture during the summer.
After planting a new hosta, it normally takes three years for the plant to reach full maturity. During the second growing season the plants will reach half its final leaf size and height. Hostas are generally clump forming and like most clump forming plants, they can become overgrown. After four or five years of undisturbed growth, it is best to dig the entire clump up and divide it into groups of four to five crowns. This will renew the vigor of the plant. Hostas can be transplanted most any time during the growing season, but to minimize shock to the plant, it is best to do it early spring or late summer. Complete late summer transplantings by September 10 (Zone 5) to allow plenty of time for the plants to re-aclimate.
Most hostas produce flower stalks in mid to late summer that stand well above the foliage. Trumpet like flowers vary in color from white to dark purple. Some varieties are highly fragrant while others have no scent at all.
Hostas range in size from dwarfs to giants. Dwarfs grow to only a height of several inches and the diameter of the mature leaf canopy will be 6 to 10 inches. Giants will grow to a height of 3 feet ( this does not include the flower stalk) with leaves as large as 10 to 12 inches across. The diamater of the leaf canopy can be as much as 4 feet. It is important to select a variety that can fit well in the space available. Some have a vertical stature which makes a nice different look.
There are very few insects that bother hostas except for slugs. Slugs naturally like the shaded moist habitat that the hosta canopy provides. Unfortunately they do more than hide there; they also eat holes in the leaves. While it doesn’t seem to hurt the plant’s growth very much, it can make the plants less attractive. Having grown many varieties, we can help you find one of many which are highly resistant to slug attack. Our Help Pages include one on Slug Resistant Hostas. There are also a variety of solutions for contolling slugs ranging from barriers, drowning pools, repellents, pesticides etc. Spending a little time on-line may be a good start to determine what type of approach you might want to try for slug control.
Sun Tolerant Hostas: Popular Hostas To Grow In Sun
Hostas add interesting foliage to areas in need of large, spreading and colorful leaves. Hostas are most often considered shade plants. It’s true that most hosta plants should grow in a partial shade or dappled sun area to keep leaves from burning, but there are now many sun-loving hostas available for the garden.
About Hostas for Sunny Spots
Newer hostas for sunny spots are appearing in the market with the claim of being hostas that tolerate the sun. Yet, there are hostas for sun that have grown for decades in many well-planted gardens too.
These plants can grow happily in areas that make morning sun available to them. Afternoon shade is a necessity, especially during those hot summer days. Further success comes from consistent watering and planting them in rich soil. Add a layer of organic mulch to help hold and conserve moisture.
Let’s take a look at what’s available and see how well these hybrids grow in a sunny spot. Sun-loving hostas may help fill your landscaping needs. Those with yellow leaves or genes of the Hosta plantaginea family are among the best hosta plants to grow in sun. Interestingly, those with fragrant blooms grow best in full morning sun.
- Sun Power – A bright gold hosta holding color well when planted in morning sun. Grows vigorously with twisted, wavy leaves and pointed tips. Lavender flowers.
- Stained Glass – A sport of Guacamole with gold center colors that are brighter and wide green bands around edges. Fragrant, lavender bloom.
- Sun Mouse – A miniature hosta with rippled leaves that are bright gold in morning sun. This member of the Mouse hosta collection, developed by grower Tony Avent, is so new that nobody is yet sure how much sun it will tolerate. Try it if you want to experiment.
- Guacamole – The 2002 Hosta of the Year, this is a large leaf specimen with wide green border and chartreuse in the center. Veins are lined with dark green in some conditions. A rapid grower with fragrant flowers, this is proof that sun-tolerant hostas have existed for years.
- Regal Splendor – Also a Hosta of the Year, in 2003, this one has large, interesting leaves as well. It has gold margins with mostly blue-green leaves. It is a sport of Krossa Regal, another blue-leaved plant. Great tolerance of morning sun, flowers are lavender.
Hostas for Sun
Popular Hostas for Sun
It is a well-known fact that hostas are shade loving plants, but it does not mean that it is absolutely impossible to plant hostas in sunny locations.
Fortunately, there are some hostas that like the sun as well – they are quite tolerant to direct sunlight.
Most of them include species with gold foliage, but there are also other varieties (mainly hybrids) that will decorate your garden with beautiful colour shades of their leaves.
Among the most popular hostas for sun, we can distinguish the following plants:
August Moon Hosta
This variety deserves to be mentioned the first as it’s a primary choice of many gardeners who like to see hostas on sunny patches of their flower beds. As with most hostas, flowers are not the main attraction of this plant, though you might find them charming in their violet paleness. What is really precious is the cheerful greenery of its leaves that turns golden by the end of the summer season.
Gold Regal is one more popular variety. It can be exposed to direct sunlight, so do not hesitate to plant these hostas in the sunny places of your garden. These plants will decorate your arrangement not only with glorious foliage, but also with a beautiful bouquet of blue flowers. Usually these hostas have their blooming period in July. Another variety, called Rascal, looks almost like Gold Regal, but with a subtle chartreuse margin.
Hosta Krossa Regal
These are hostas with bluish leaves that can grow in almost any climate. They look exceedingly beautiful, especially in summer, when their elegance is enhanced by the tall flowers.
In case you would like to add even more sophistication to a Krossa Regal’s look, it is highly recommended to choose a Regal Splendor variety. In fact it looks exactly the same, but with a golden margin. This plant will grow very fast, bringing to your garden an original combination of colours.
Francee is a hosta which has an excellent growth habit and can easily fill any areas, creating a nice ground cover or distinctive borders for your flower beds. This variety looks very neat and charming thanks to its simplicity: it has classical green foliage with white margins.
Sun Power’s colours, on the contrary, are rather original: at first they are something between the green and yellow shades, and later they turn into brightness of gold. The pointed leaves of this variety look exceedingly attractive during the entire season.
If you do not have experience with hostas for sun, it is advisable to consider Krossa Regal and Regal Splendor. They require only basic maintenance and can be found almost in any shop.
If you want to purchase some hostas plants and are not sure whether they are sun tolerant, remember a simple rule: hostas with golden foliage can stand the direct sunlight better than other species. It can tolerate more sun than other varieties.
- Hosta Plants
- Fall Bulbs
When discussing hostas, one must always bear in mind that shade is really their idea growing location, so any hosta that grows in the sun is tolerant of sun but not a lover of it. Hostas tend to put up with more sun in northern climes like ours in central Alberta. (We score!) The fragrant varieties of the plantaginea family that hummingbirds love tend to handle sun better than the other hosta groups.
Plant characteristics in hostas to look for that give them a better chance in sunshine include:
Leaves with thicker textures tend to do deal better with moisture loss in sunny & windy conditions. So, look for:
- Heavy leaves
- Corrugated or puckered leaves
- Blue colored leaves
- Thin leaves
- Green or gold varieties with variegation
There may be some tradeoffs when growing hosta outside of their comfort zone. You may end up with:
- Color loss or leaf bleaching, particularly in blue varieties
- Decreased leaf & overall plant size
- Less perfect leaves, there may be some burning in middle of leaves & on edges
For hostas to grow in sun, here are a few suggestions for increasing your success:
- Choose a hosta with a large root mass – they can absorb more water and support the plant during the sun & heat exposure
- Check that you have a good quality garden soil with plenty of organic matter that holds moisture well — avoid clayish or compacted soil
- Supplying enough water is major – a lack of moisture causes them to stress & burn
- Ensure that they drain well and not so soggy as to cause them to rot.
- Mulch well with 3-4 inches of good quality mulch to increase water retention & keep the roots cool.
- Supply a shade source for the hottest times of the day. Things like: a taller tree or perennial plant and hard-scapes like a bird feeder, arbour, trellis, or a fountain can provide shade for those hours.
The following is a list of Hostas ‘that have the potential for 4 hours or more of sunshine’ that we have found to appear on several different horticultural lists and sources. Please note this is a guideline but not a guarantee of performance, you will have to test and see what works best in your location.
- August Moon
- Blue Angel
- Gold Standard
- Royal Standard
- Regal Splendor
- Sugar & Cream
- Sum & Substance
- Sun Power
Hostas for Sun
Promote shade-loving hostas to sunny spots. These perennial favorites can actually tolerate a fair amount of sun—and some can withstand a few hours of direct sun. Gardeners are always pushing the envelope, and hostas for sun are yet another example. Ideal growing conditions for hostas feature filtered light, what a plant tag would label “partial shade.” But many hostas adapt to increasing amounts of sun. The secret to finding hostas for sun? Learn what clues to look for to find hosta plants adapted to tolerate sun.
In general, hostas for sun feature a few specific characteristics. First, hosta plants that tolerate sun generally have thicker leaves. ‘Rhino Hide’ hosta, ‘Thunderbolt’ hosta and ‘Liberty’ hosta are varieties with thick leaves. The thicker leaves, by the way, also offer greater slug resistance. While these hosta plants withstand more sun, they still grow best and develop best leaf color in partial shade.
Second, hosta plants that open fragrant flowers can usually withstand a little more sun. These types of hostas include ‘Fried Bananas’ hosta, ‘Garden Delight’ hosta and Hosta plantaginea, a native of China with flowers that open and release fragrance at night.
The other clue to sun tolerance is leaf color. Hostas for sun typically have leaves with hues of white, yellow or gold. The leaves may be solid or have some variegated pattern of these colors. ‘Fire and Ice’ hosta has bright white leaves with green edges. ‘Sun Power’ hosta has bright chartreuse leaves that glow in the landscape. ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta also has chartreuse leaves, which are large (up to 20 inches across) and puckered.
Knowing which hostas can tolerate sun is only part of the equation. It’s also vitally important to understand the growing conditions that hostas for sun require. When you plant hostas in sun, it’s important to provide ample water. The minute a hosta is enduring direct sun or brighter sun, the leaves, especially the larger-leaved varieties—are going to demand a steady water supply. In windy areas, the need for water rises even higher, as winds literally wick water from leaves.
If you plan on growing hostas for sun, consider installing drip irrigation to keep plants well-watered, especially in Southern areas. In all regions, add a mulch layer to help maintain soil moisture. Check the mulch layer depth in midsummer. If it’s down to a 1-inch thickness, add more.
It’s also important to understand that full sun in Vermont or Minnesota is very different from full sun in Georgia or Oklahoma. In Southern regions, protect hostas for sun from the strongest sun of the day—afternoon sun. The further north you garden, you might be able to get away with full sun all day. Try it and see how plants fare. If you see signs of distress like brown leaf edges, dull color or faded spots on leaves, place plants where they’ll receive shade during the hottest part of the day.
Hostas: Plant in shade or plant in sun
Hosta plants are a perennial favorite among gardeners. Their lush foliage and easy care make them ideal for a low maintenance garden. Originating in the Orient and brought to Europe in the 1700s, today there are over 2,500 cultivars with such variety in leaf shape, size and texture, that an entire garden could be devoted to growing hostas alone.
Hostas are usually termed “shade-tolerant” plants, meaning they will grow in shade or partial shade. But shade might not be their ideal growing condition. Some hostas need a period of full sun to look and perform their best. It is not recommended that any hosta be in full sun all the time, but many hostas are more vigorous and display their most vibrant colors if given at least some sun exposure. Hostas with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers can stand more sun than Hostas with green, blue or white leaves. There are, of course, always exceptions and you may know of a Hosta that is basking and thriving in full sun, but that is not rule.
Although hosta plants are touted as shade lovers, their sunlight requirements vary widely. Successfully growing hostas in the shade depends on color. Hosta leaves come in a variety of greens, ranging from a color so deep it’s called blue to a light chartreuse to a soft creamy white. A good rule of thumb for the placement and care of hostas is the lighter the foliage, the brighter the sun. The deeper darker foliage retains it color best in moderate shade. The variegated varieties need more sunlight to keep their white and gold stripes. All hostas need some shade and few, if any, will do well in strong direct sunlight. They will fully mature in four to eight years.
For the best care of hostas, plant them in rich organic soil with a slightly acidic pH. You’ll only have to do it once. Dig the planting hole about a foot deep, and wide enough to accommodate the spread of a full sized plant. This will make it easier for the roots to establish a foothold and begin their horizontal spread. In spite of their almost tropical look, hostas are rugged and once established, they tolerate almost any soil and will grow for years. When discussing how to grow hostas, drainage is most important. Dormant season crown rot is one of the few diseases that attack these plants. Good hosta care requires good drainage. When newly planted, keep the roots moist, not wet. Once established, hosta plants aren’t fussy and are very tolerant of summer drought.
Mature hostas may be divided, however it is not necessary for the health of the plant. Making more hostas is the usual motivation. In spring as the ‘eyes’ or growing tips start to emerge from the ground, dig up the clump and divide into sections with a sharp shovel or knife. In smaller plants or sections, it may be possible to gently pull apart the plants, leaving as much of the root attached to each crown or plant. Because hostas have fleshy roots, they hold moisture and nutrients which help the new divisions become established. Plant these new hostas, spacing them considering their mature size.
Hostas can be divided later in the season, although more damage will likely show for the remainder of the season. New transplants will need special attention with watering until established.
Once your plant is established, hosta care becomes a matter of simple maintenance. To keep your growing hostas healthy, fertilize them each spring with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. Additional summer fertilizing may be helpful, but not necessary. Granular fertilizers should never sit on the leaves. With the exception of crown rot and leaf rot, hosta plants are relatively disease free. Deer find them tasty and if deer are a problem in your neighborhood, you might try planting daffodils around your hosta to keep them away from the emerging shoots. Another difficulty in hosta care is slugs, which leave unsightly holes in the leaves. A light scattering of sand around your plants will help keep slugs away. Hosta plants are a beautiful addition to any garden and fit well in a variety of spaces, ranging from a few inches to four feet across a welcome addition to your yard.
Finally, there are so many varieties of hostas to choose from so go for it and have a great time picking some for your garden or yard – enjoy these wonderful plants.
Now that you are in the mood for hosta, check out the Prince George Master Gardener 10th Annual Spring Plant Sale and Clinic on Saturday, May 14, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. They will have quite a selection of hosta to choose from. The event will be held at the Prince George Regional Heritage Center in Prince George. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer your plant growing questions in addition to offering annuals, perennials, and shrubs for sale. Proceeds from the plant sale benefit local Master Gardener educational programs and a high school horticultural scholarship.
• Virginia master gardeners are volunteer educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. Virginia master gardeners bring the resources of Virginia’s land-universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University to the people of the commonwealth.