Monday, October 10, 2011

Hosta Happy

I am hosta happy. At last, a surviving, flowering hosta. This is not a criticism of the popular perrenial; this is a celebration. Of all the hostas we have planted, this is the only one that has made it to the flowering stage. How can that be? you might well ask. These are hardy plants. They tolerate shade, which we have a lot of in our backyard, though a little sun is welcome. Their leaves are their main attraction but they also flower with lily-like blossoms (appropriate as hostas are in the lily family). I see them all over the place. It seems that everyone can grow hostas.

We can, too, which is a fact not lost on the rabbits. They have been munching on our hostas for a few years, now. Each season the hostas send up leaves and as soon as the plants are full the rabbits take over. We see them bounding up to the hostas and suddenly the leaves are gone, whittled down to short, denuded stalks. I heard that fabric softener sheets keep mosquitoes away so I surrounded a couple of the plants with white, flapping sheets – a cocoon of sorts. It seemed to work, for a short while at least, and then it didn’t. I suspect the rabbits were just taking the measure of the sheets and, finding them non-threatening, continued on their hosta fiesta.

I rescued one tiny plant that was left lying on its side, abandoned for some unknowable reason, and stuck it on the back patio in a flowerpot that had lost its previous occupant. Frankly, I did not expect it to live. But then it did. And it flowered! The rabbits did no nibbling. The squirrels left it alone. The chipmunks bypassed it on their urgent scamperings. Good. Let them all ignore it. I pay attention to it because I so appreciate its survival. I may also buy a companion plant next spring and see if I can grow another undisturbed hosta. I love the wildlife in my backyard but I like my garden, too. Surely we can all find a way to co-exist.

Everything you ever wanted to know about hostas from the University of Minnesota Extension Service:


  1. My mother always called hostas weeds, but I don't agree. We have several and I love them, especially when they flower. After a few seasons, when they had flourished, I divided them in early spring (when it's easiest) and, now, I have many. So, take heart, you'll have more in a few seasons.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Claire. I'll keep at it.