Crop Vignette: Hosta

Plant Information

Hosta foliage and white flowers

Hosta is a genus of plants commonly known as hostas, plantain lilies and occasionally by the Japanese name giboshi. The genus is currently placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae, and is native to northeast Asia (China, Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East). Hostas are widely cultivated as shade-tolerant foliage plants. Hybridization within and among species and cultivars has produced numerous cultivars, with over 6,100 registered and named varieties, and perhaps as many more that are not yet registered with the American Hosta Society. Cultivars with golden- or white-variegated leaves are especially prized. Popular cultivars include ‘Francee’ (green leaves with white edges), ‘Gold Standard’ (yellow leaves with green edges) ‘Undulata’ (green leaves with white centers), ‘June’ (blue-green leaves with creamy centers), and ‘Sum and Substance’ (a huge plant with chartreuse-yellow leaves). Newer, fragrant cultivars such as ‘Guacamole’ are also popular.

Hostas are grown in the greenhouse to be sold as potted ornamental plants for landscape uses. They are primarily grown for their interesting and varied foliage. Stalked, conspicuously-veined, often dense, basal leaves in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures rise up from a central rhizomatous crown to form a rounded to spreading mound of foliage. The plants are long-lived perennials that are winter hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8. They prefer shaded or partly shaded areas, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter, and plenty of moisture during the growing season. In early spring after the first growth starts, apply a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Remove flower stalks after bloom to encourage vigorous growth, rather than seed production. Remove leaves and clean up around the plants after they have died back in the fall to help control diseases and slugs.


According to the USDA NASS Census of Horticulture 2018, hostas in the US have a wholesale value of $58.375M with more than 14 million potted plants produced annually.

Main Disease Problems

Hostas have several main disease problems including anthracnose, Botrytis blight, Hosta Virus X, leaf spots, and crown rots.

Main Pest Problems

Hostas have a wide variety of pests such as slugs and snails, aphids, thrips, foliar nematodes, deer, and rabbits.

IR-4 Research

Most of the research IR-4 has sponsored has been related to crop safety (140 trials with 53 products), and we have screened new actives and products with hosta for effective management of nematodes and liverwort (Marchantia sp.).

Hosta sieboldiana

Sources Cited

USDA-NASS Census of Horticulture, 2018


Ely Vea, IR-4 Environmental Horticulture Program Assistant Manager, Jackie Cavaliere, IR-4 Environmental Horticulture Program Coordinator, and Cristi Palmer, IR-4 Environmental Horticulture Program Manager