Hosta Plant Flowering: What To Do About Flowers On Hosta Plants
By: Teo Spengler
Do hosta plants have flowers? Yes, they do. Hosta plants grow flowers, and some are lovely and fragrant. But hosta plants are known for their gorgeous overlapping leaves, not for hosta plant flowers. Read on for information about flowers on hosta plants and for an answer to the question: should you let hosta grow flowers.
Do Hosta Plants Have Flowers?
Every hosta plant grows flowers. But not every hosta plant flowering is a welcome sight to the gardener. Many gardeners select hostas for the shade garden because of their lush foliage, not hosta plant flowers. The mounding leaves of cultivars can be spectacular, ranging in color from standard green to blues, white and gold. They also come in many shapes, sizes and textures.
For example, if you want a very small hosta, you can plant “Baby Bunting” that even at maturity is only a few inches wide. Other hosta plants, like “Blue Angel,” can grow to over 8 feet (2.4 m.) in diameter. Because of this emphasis on foliage, hosta flowers can be viewed as an extra plus for the plant. They can also been seen as a distraction from the main show.
Flowers on Hosta Plants
Hosta plant flowering can be a very fancy affair. The plants flower in summer, offering spikes of blossoms that look like lilies, in shades of lavender or white. The bell-shaped blooms can be showy and exceptionally fragrant, attracting hummingbirds and bees.
New cultivars are being developed that offer even larger, more impressive blooms. Some offer up to 75 flowers per stem. In short, hosta flowers can add ornamental value to a hosta plant. Yet, many gardeners still ask: should you let hosta grow flowers?
Should You Let Hosta Grow Flowers?
Whether you want pure foliage or will accept hosta plant flowers is a matter of personal taste. Each gardener must make up his or her own mind.
The quality of the blossoms your hosta plant flowering produces might influence your decision. Many gardeners like tall flower scapes, but not every plant produces them. Sometimes, especially with the white-flowered hostas, the flower scapes are awkwardly short and stunted.
And whether or not you allow them to bloom, you’ll want to clip the scapes when the blossoms fade. Faded hosta flowers are not attractive.
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Other Names: Plantain Lily, Funkia
Ornamental frosty-blue leaves have contrasting yellow-gold margins that fade to creamy white later in season provides excellent texture and contrast spikes of lavender flowers in mid-summer
Autumn Frost Hosta features dainty spikes of lavender tubular flowers rising above the foliage in mid summer. Its attractive textured oval leaves remain powder blue in color with distinctive yellow edges and tinges of creamy white throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Autumn Frost Hosta is a dense herbaceous perennial with tall flower stalks held atop a low mound of foliage. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.
This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration
Autumn Frost Hosta is recommended for the following landscape applications
- Mass Planting
- Border Edging
- General Garden Use
Autumn Frost Hosta will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity extending to 18 inches tall with the flowers, with a spread of 24 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 20 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.
This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid. It can be propagated by division however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.
Flowers for a Cutting Garden
Love bouquets? Fill your yard with perennials that offer blossoms perfect for picking and plunking into vases.
Volcano Phlox Bouquet
Garden phlox makes a great addition to a cutting garden, and Volcano Phlox is no exception. This fragrant phlox continues to flower all summer long if you cut plants back by a quarter after the first flowers fade. Plants grow 24 to 28 inches tall by 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-10. Good vase companions for phlox: chamomile, euphorbia and hosta (shown).
Peonies are old-fashioned favorites that are long-lived, flowering for generations. Peony blossoms come in a variety of flower forms, like these semi-double blooms of pink 'Paula Fay.’ A single peony makes a stunning bouquet combine several stems, and you have a centerpiece fit for any gathering. Plant early, mid- and late season peonies, and you’ll be picking the blooms for six weeks. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 35 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for peony: lady’s mantle, clustered bellflower, catmint and hosta.
Summerina Yellow Echibeckia
Echibeckia combines the winter hardiness of purple coneflower (Echinacea) with the fast growth and sunny flower colors of black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia). The result is a stunning beauty that makes the most humble jar vase beam with good looks. Flowers stand atop sturdy stems and appear all summer long — without deadheading. Rabbit- and deer-resistant plants grow 20 to 24 inches tall and 16 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 6-10. Good vase companions for echibeckia: bee balm, mints, ninebark and purple verbena.
If purple is your jam, you need to tuck clustered bellflower into your garden. The bright purple blossoms make a perfect addition to any late spring or early summer bouquet. Remove spent blooms to help extend the flower show. Blossoms beckon butterflies and other pollinators. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 15 to 16 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8. Good vase companions for clustered bellflower: bearded iris, baptisia, gas plant, lady’s mantle and coralbells.
Bee balm, also known as Oswego tea, explodes with floral fireworks in summer. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and make a terrific addition to the summer vase. Plants grow best in full sun to part shade with consistently moist soil. Bee balm comes in a variety of plant sizes and colors, including lavender, pink and bright purple. Rabbit- and deer-resistant plants grow 12 to 36 inches tall and 14 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good vase companions for bee balm: anise hyssop, coreopsis, zinnia and garden phlox.
A classic bloomer for early summer bouquets, bearded iris offers a rainbow of flower hues, from purple-black, to sunny yellow, to old-fashioned lavender. Bearded iris are undemanding in the garden. Tuck them into a spot with full sun to part shade, and call it done. Look for dwarf, knee-high or tall varieties. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 38 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10. Good vase companions for bearded iris: baptisia, peony, lady’s mantle, gas plant and lavender.
Individual blossoms on the flower spike of gas plant appear to have eyelashes, thanks to long, curling stamens. Gas plant offers a long flower season, from late spring through midsummer, and you can find varieties with blooms in shades of lavender, pink and red. Once flowers fade, seedpods form that linger into early winter and make a nice addition to autumn arrangements. Site this perennial where you want it (full sun is best), because it doesn’t transplant easily. Small seedlings tend to form around the mother plant, and those can be moved with little fuss. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 28 to 32 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Good vase companions for gas plant: bearded iris, peony, bee balm and lady’s mantle.
Oriental lilies are showstoppers in the summer garden, opening richly colored and intensely fragrant blooms. Flowers appear from mid- to late summer and can linger for a few weeks. Oriental lilies grow from bulbs, which are best planted in fall in colder zones. Lily stems grow 24 to 48 inches tall and usually benefit from staking. Plants often spread over time to form a clump from 12 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for Oriental lily: hosta or baptisia leaves, ribbon grass, garden phlox or bee balm.
Also known as coralbells, heucheras bring season-long color to the garden and vase with their tinted leaves. Look for heuchera in a host of shades, including gold, purple, lime green, burgundy, almost black and silver. In the garden, heuchera is versatile, growing in full sun to full shade. Some varieties have a specific light preference, so be sure to read the plant tag prior to purchase. Use heuchera leaves to add color to arrangements, or pick the airy flower spikes. Blossoms appear from early to midsummer, depending on variety. Deer-resistant plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall by 10 to 12 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good vase companions for heuchera: gas plant, Oriental lily, hosta leaves, zinnia and anise hyssop.
Edge planting beds with beautiful lady’s mantle. This is a go-to perennial for cottage or old-fashioned gardens. Leaves have a heavily felted texture that causes water to bead on the surface, even morning dew. Chartreuse flowers appear from late spring to early summer. They make the perfect filler for fresh garden bouquets and also dry well to use in dried flower arrangements. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 15 to 18 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Good vase companions for lady’s mantle: peony, bearded iris, Oriental lily and clustered bellflower.
A classic native wildflower, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) brings a steady stream of color to gardens all summer long. It’s a hearty plant, withstanding full sun, drought and poor soil of all sorts (clay, rocky, shallow). Plant breeders have worked to improve this flower powerhouse by expanding blossom color and form. The result? You can find (no longer purple) coneflower plants in a rainbow of shades, including red, gold, white, orange and pink. This variety is PowWow Wildberry, which unfurls vivid rose-purple blooms. Coneflowers are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Purple coneflower grows 24 to 60 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Some newer varieties grow shorter. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for purple coneflower: Oriental or Asiatic lily, Russian sage, catmint, hosta and gas plant.
Hosta offers a wonderful array of leaf colors and sizes that provide beautiful greenery for a bouquet. Or, take a page from modern design and showcase a vase of hosta leaves — in one hue or a mixed variety. Hosta leaves hold up well in a vase, outlasting many garden flowers. This variety, 'Loyalist,’ offers leaves with white centers and green edges. Many hostas also unfurl vase-worthy flower spikes at some point in the summer. Hosta plants can be miniature or giant, growing anywhere from 6 inches to 60 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for hosta: purple coneflower, gas plant, rose, bearded iris and peony.
Go native with false indigo, a prairie plant that’s low maintenance and gorgeous. Pretty blue-purple flower spikes appear in late spring and make a great addition to a garden-fresh bouquet. Leaves have a blue-green tone that looks stunning in a vase—harvest stems all season long. Dried seedpods make a nice addition to fall arrangements. This is a tap-rooted perennial, which means it’s not easy to move once established. Plant it where you know it can stay put. False indigo offers different flower colors, including blends of blue, yellow, brown and white. The variety shown is 'Blueberry Sundae.’ False indigo are deer-resistant plants that grow 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for false indigo: bearded iris, peony, clustered bellflower, purple coneflower and echibeckia.
Native perennial anise hyssop earns its keep in the garden by filling many roles. Offering beautiful cut flowers is just one of them. Known botanically as Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop is a strong pollinator plant, bringing bees, butterflies and many beneficial insects to the garden. Leaves can be used to flavor drinks with a hint of anise, and small purple petals offer a burst of licorice flavor. Flower spikes are sturdy and work in a bouquet with or without the actual tiny lavender blooms. They provide structure and a vertical accent in arrangements. Deer-and rabbit-resistant plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 18 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8. Good vase companions for anise hyssop: purple coneflower, echibeckia, hosta, gas plant and garden phlox.
Use garden shears to cut off seed heads.
- Hosta, also known as the plantain lily, has beautiful foliage that changes color in the fall and winter.
- The tall stems make it a good cut flower to use in arrangements, but the seed heads can be left on the plant to add interest during the winter months.
Cut hosta foliage. Hosta foliage begins to die down on its own, but it benefits from cutting back.
Gently bend the foliage back until you can see where the leaves meet the rhizomes (roots.) Begin cutting foliage until all the leaves are cut back. Hostas planted in tubs should also be cut back in early to late winter.
Mulch. Mulch hostas growing area with 2-4 inches of mulch. Hostas benefit from heavy mulching. The perennial will come into leaf in late spring.
Fall Hosta Care 101
Cutting Back Hosta Plants
By mid fall, hosta plants begin to slowly lose their luster. Their once leafy, overflowing foliage begins to fade to fallish shades of brown and yellow.
As autumn progresses and the temperatures continue to chill, the plant quickly deteriorates. Especially if a frost or light freeze hits and kills the foliage back completely.
A hard frost or freeze can spell a quick end to a hosta’s leafy green foliage.
And once a good portion of a hosta’s leaf structure begins dying back, it’s a signal that the foliage and stems need to be clipped. As a good rule of thumb, if 25% or more of the plant is dying back, it’s time to cut it back!
So why is cutting back so important?
For starters, decaying stems and leaves maker for some pretty unsightly flowerbeds. But even more importantly, leaving the rotting foliage allows pests and disease a perfect place to find a home.
As your hosta plant begins to decay significantly, it is time to cut it them back for winter.
And if kept around all winter, they lay silently dormant, only to come back to life even stronger next spring to become serious issues for your plants.
Cutting Back Hosta Plants – Fall Hosta Care
The good news is, cutting back hosta plants couldn’t be easier. The loose foliage and stems cut easily with garden shears, or even a sharp pair of scissors. Simply lift up the foliage, and snip the plant to within a few inches of ground level.
Hosta plants should be cut to within a few inches of the ground in mid to late fall.
As for the foliage remains, as long as it does not show obvious signs of disease or pest infestation, it’s a great addition to the compost pile. Now that the plant is cut back, it’s time to determine if your hosta needs to be divided.
Splitting and Dividing – Fall Hosta Care
Fall is the perfect time to dig up and divide overgrown hostas. Plants whose roots have become too large not only bloom less in subsequent years, but become more susceptible to pest and disease with their massive canopy of foliage.
A good rule of thumb is that hosta plants should be divided every 3 to 5 years. If your plants have become overly large and are having trouble blooming, now is the time to dig them up and divide.When hosta plants grow too large, their roots become compacted, and the plant suffers. Dividing every few years keeps plants at their best.
Although this can be done in the spring, dividing and transplanting in the fall allows the hosta crowns time to establish before winter. This results in hostas that have much better first year growth patterns than spring transplanted plants. (See : How To Divide Perennials In The Fall – 7 Secrets To Success)
New Fall Transplants – Fall Hosta Care
Just a quick note on late season transplants. Depending on the weather, new divisions and transplants may send up new shoots before winter sets in. This is completely normal and does not hurt the plants in any way.
It simply means that the roots have become well established in the cool fall soil. A hard frost or freeze will eventually kill back the new growth, and the plant will head into dormancy for the winter months.
New transplants may send up shoots in late fall if the weather remains warm enough. It will not harm the plant, as the new growth will die back with the first frost.
One thing you should not do in the fall is fertilize your hosta plants. Fertilizing can promote too much growth, especially if the temperatures happen to stay warm. Instead, as you will see below, you can provide a bit of slow-growth nutrients with compost.
Mulching For Winter Protection – Fall Hosta Care
Once plants have been cut back and any divisions and transplants needed have been made, it’s time to give the plants a protective layer of mulch before winter.
The fall mulching of plants is one of the most underrated chores of all. But it really can make a big difference in keeping perennials strong.
Mulch helps insulate the plant’s roots against temperature swings. Swings that can cause excessive freezing and thawing that can injure or even kill off plants.
In addition, mulching also helps keep competing weeds and weed seeds from blowing in and taking over. (See : Mulching Fall Flowerbeds, How To Stop Next Year’s Weeds Now)
For fall mulching, begin by putting a light covering (1 inch) of compost over the crown of each plant. Next, place a two to three inch layer of traditional mulch all around the plant.
Why the compost? Not only will the compost provide a bit of insulation, it also acts a slow release fertilizer for plants come next spring. It is especially helpful for new divisions and transplants to have added nutrients come spring.
Here is to putting your hosta plants to bed for winter with the proper fall care, and enjoying healthy blooming plants next spring!
This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.
Flowers That Look Good Next To Hosta
Impatiens (Impatiens spp.) are non-stop summer bloomers. Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri) is a compact, bushy summer annual growing to 1 foot high and wide, fitting in well with larger hosta plants small blossoms of white, purple or pink bloom all season long. Small flower spikes topped with blue buds develop and should be pinched back to keep the foliage bushy. Cranesbill (Geranium spp. ), Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) produce compact foliage clumps 1 to 2 feet high and wide in a multitude of bright color with solid or variegated leaves, with thin stalks developing small pink or white flower clusters in late spring. Bugloss leaf colors include silver, blue, green white and a mix of each. Both the Japanese and English painted ferns are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 1 to 9.
- Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)
- Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri) is a compact, bushy summer annual growing to 1 foot high and wide, fitting in well with larger hosta plants small blossoms of white, purple or pink bloom all season long.
Continue watering hostas until the foliage begins to die down.