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Plantain Lily


Large clumps of big, fresh-looking spring leaves make these the perfect understory plants; spikes of blue, lavender, or white trumpet-shaped flowers are a summer bonus. Leaves may be heart-shaped, lance-shaped, oval, or nearly round; they can be glossy or dull, smooth or textured, straight or wavy edged. Mounds range from 3–4 in. across to 5 ft. in diameter. Foliage runs from lime to dark green, greenish gold, gray, and blue, with many variegated forms whose colors vary with climate and soil type.

New varieties are legion. To get what you want, buy the plant in full leaf or from a reputable mail-order specialist. All are native to eastern Asia.

Though hostas are shade lovers, some tolerate sun, especially in cool-summer zones (those with white or yellow in leaves are least sun-tolerant). Plants grown in sun will be more compact and will produce more flowers. All go dormant in winter (even in mild climates), collapsing to almost nothing.

Hosta hybrids

The following list represents just a few of the many hundreds of possibilities. The size given at the start of each listing is for the foliage clump. Performance in Zones 22–24 will vary, but all are worth a try in these areas.

‘Blue Angel’: Grows to 2 1/2 ft. high and 6 ft. wide. Blue leaves; near-white flowers on 4-ft. stalks.

‘Christmas Tree’: Grows to 2 ft. high and 3 ft. wide. Large, deep green leaves have creamy white edges; light lavender flowers rise on 2-ft. stems.

‘Francee’: Grows to 15 in. high and 3 ft. wide. Dark green leaves with a sharply defined white border; light lavender flowers on 2 1/2-ft. stalks.

‘Great Expectations’: Grows to 2 ft. high and 2 1/2 ft. wide. Leaves are creamy yellow in the center, surrounded by a wide blue-green edge. White flowers on 3-ft. stalks.

‘Guacamole’: Grows to 2 ft. high and 4 ft. wide. Green-edged, golden lime foliage gives rise to large, white, fragrant flowers.

‘June’: Grows to 14–16 in. high and 2 1/2 ft. wide. Heart-shaped leaves are blue-gray at the margins, irregularly variegated with greenish yellow and bright yellow. Lavender blooms on 1 1/2-ft.-high stems.

‘Patriot’: Grows to 15 in. high and 3 ft. wide. Resembles ‘Francee’, but the leaves have a wider white border. Lavender flowers on 2 1/2-ft.-high stems.

‘Paul’s Glory’: Grows to 2 ft. high and 4 ft. wide. Greenish gold leaves with green edges, pale lavender flower spikes.

‘Sagae’: Grows to 2 ft. high and 3 ft. wide, with upswept foliage forming a vase shape. Blue-gray leaves with a wide creamy white border. Lavender flowers on 4 1/2-ft. stalks.

‘Stained Glass’: Grows to 15 in. high and 4 ft. wide. Deeply veined golden foliage has dark green brushstrokes around the edges; fragrant lavender flowers.

‘Sum and Substance’: Grows to 3 ft. high and 6 ft. wide, with textured chartreuse leaves that turn golden with age. Pale lavender flowers. 

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