Green Hostas

Green can mean many things in hosta depending on genetics, exposure to sunlight or soil. Darker green hostas, along with blue and gray hostas, generally do better than other hostas in low-light conditions because they have more light-absorbing chlorophyll in their leaves. (Remember, every hosta needs some sunlight for photosynthesis.)

green hostas Hosta 'Guacamole' from HostasDirect.comH. ‘Guacamole’ aphrodite.1678_6

H. ‘Aphrodite’

Hosta 'Fried Green Tomatoes' from
H. ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’
See the hosta color wheel at Hostalibrary to see more of the various shade of green hostas.

The wax that gives some green hostas their shine is explained here by the world-famous hosta expert W. George Schmid:

The shiny layer on hosta leaves is based in the cuticle, which is the topmost layer of the leaf epidermis. The epidermis is the outer multi-layered group of cells covering the leaf. It forms the boundary separating the plant’s inner cells from the environment. The epidermis serves several functions: protection against water loss, regulation of gas exchange, and secretion of metabolic compounds. The epidermis is usually transparent, since epidermal cells lack chloroplasts and outermost coat is a waxy cuticle that prevents water loss. Thus, the plant cuticle has a primary role in water conservation, but is also an important barrier against the entry of pathogenic microorganisms. The cuticle consists of a cross-linked polymer called “cutin” and provides a protective wax layer that seals the plant surface. The waxy layer of the cuticle is obvious, appearing either as a shiny film on some hosta leaves or as a glaucous outer covering that gives a gray or blue appearance to hosta leaves. That glaucous type of cuticle has light scattering crystals present in the wax, which give a dull, rather than a shiny appearance. Several factors can determine how shiny the leaf surface appears including the amount of wax, the type of wax, the crystalline structure of the epicuticular wax, leaf texture and in some genera leaf hairiness. The cuticle can be damaged by external forces like rubbing or mechanically polishing through which it becomes shinier because the structure of the epicuticular wax is physically changed. The physical characteristics of the cuticle are based on environmental adaptation of plants, in our case hostas, in response to terrestrial conditions and the underlying reason has not been studied in the genus Hosta. Shiny cuticle characteristics are genetically passed on to progeny, and appear to be dominant in F1 and F2 pod progeny of “shiny” species like H. yingeri. It should be noted that glaucous characteristics usually disappear as the growing season progresses and are not as permanent as the shiny phase.

H. ‘Invincible’

Green hostas in the garden

    • Green hostas are the most versatile for your garden. A green hosta can be placed in a shady or sunny location and be compatible with almost any other garden color.
    • Mix green hostas with variegated hostas as specimen plants to add highlights and variety.
    • Don’t forget leaf texture and shine when planting green hostas next to each other.

The more green or blue hostas you have in your garden the more peaceful it will seem. Green and white hostas with plain green hostas contrast nicely and put emphasis on each clump.  A large wave of green hostas in a border is stunning. You can also plant green hostas with different textures, shine, and leaf shapes together.

Variegated Green Hostas can have:
    • Green margin, Blue Center
    • Green margin, White center
    • Green margin, Yellow center
    • White margin, Green center
    • Yellow margin, Green center
    • Variegation of colors above
    • Streaking of colors above