Plant Genus Hosta Term Paper

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¶ … regional ornamental perennial plants. Specifically it will discuss the Hostas, a group of ornamental shade plants with interesting leaf color and patterns. Hostas are an extremely popular perennial plant in many areas of the country. They are easy to grow, many have spectacular leaf colors and patterns, and they will grow in shadier parts of the garden. These characteristics make them popular with gardeners and nursery centers, so a few varieties are almost always available at local nurseries and garden shops.

The morphological attributes of the plant include large, often ovate leaves, often with showy designs and soft stems. Hostas have been classified as relatives of the Yucca and Agave and other fleshy plants. There is also evidence that it has a relationship to the lily family (Liliaceae), as well. It initially developed in Japan and other areas of Asia and was imported to Europe and then the Americas. No Hostas are native to North America. Hostas can interbreed in nature.

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The plant is a hardy, herbaceous perennial that is tolerant of shade. Different varieties can reach a size of over eight-feet wide, while others may only reach eight-inches wide. The plant can take four to eight years to reach maturity, and most develop a mounded shape as they mature. Some retain a vase-like shape throughout their lives. The plant blooms in the summer, sending up spikes (scapes) with numerous blooms that can be white to lavender and resemble the blooms of lilies. New species are being developed with showier, bigger blooms. Some plants have extremely fragrant flowers, while others are not scented. Since there are now over 6,000 varieties of the plant, the characteristics and morphology can be quite varied.

Term Paper on Plant Genus Hosta Assignment

The most significant attribute of the genus is their showy leaves, which can be solid green, but are more often variegated with colors of green, blue, gold, and white. Most people grow them because of their showy leaves, rather than their flowers, however, as noted, new plants are being developed that have larger, showier blooms to enhance the appeal of the plants (Heinke and Martin).

Listing of Species of Horticultural Significance table of some of the most horticultural significant Hosta species.

Hosta plantaginea Significant because it is the species that all fragrant Hostas have been hybridized from.

Hosta plantaginea, 'August Moon', 'Fragrant Bouquet'. Significant for their sun tolerance.

Hosta tokudama.

Significant for its slow growth characteristics.

Hosta, 'Lemon Lime'.

Significant for its tendency to rebloom in certain climates.

Hosta 'Sagae'

Significant for its size, which can be up to 72-inches wide x 36-inches tall.

Hosta 'Blue Angel'. Significant for its size, 85-inches wide x 36-inches tall, and huge leaves, which can be 18-inches long x 12-inches wide.

Hosta 'Love Pat'. Significant for its slug resistance and intense blue color leaves.

Hosta 'Gold Standard'. Significant for its vigorous growth.

Hosta 'Paradigm'. Significant because it is the Hosta of the year for 2007.

Hosta kikutii Maekawa. Significant for its pointed flower bud.

With so many to choose from, it is difficult to choose the "top" Hostas by any means. However, the American Hosta Society maintains a list of the most popular Hostas each year. The 2005 list (the most recent) includes:

H. 'June'

H. 'Sagae'

H. 'Sum and Substance'

H. 'Striptease'

H. 'Guacamole'

H. 'Paul's Glory'

H. 'Krossa Regal'

H. 'Paradigm'

H. 'Blue Angel'

H. montana 'Aureomarginata'

H. 'Halcyon'

H. 'Regal Splendor'

H. 'Sun Power'

H. 'Stained Glass'

H. 'Gold Standard'

H. 'Great Expectations'

H. 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd'

H. 'Patriot'

H. 'Inniswood'

H. 'Whirlwind'

H. 'Love Pat'

H. 'Fragrant Bouquet'

H. 'On Stage'

H. 'Guardian Angel'

H. 'Summer Music'

Editors, the American Hosta Society).

Many of these varieties have placed on the most popular list for many years, due to many different characteristics and virtues.

The horticultural trade has found a gold mine in Hostas. There are numerous Hosta societies all around the country, and because at least some varieties are hardy in cold weather, almost all nurseries and garden shops include at least a few varieties in their selections for sale. In fact, Dr. Pollock, a Hosta expert notes, "According to trade information, the genus Hosta is now the most favored herbaceous perennial in the United States, overtaking Hemerocallis as the biggest seller in American nurseries" (Pollock). In addition, they are relatively simple to breed and hybridize, and so, new varieties are constantly appearing. Many plant farms around the country specialize in Hostas, including the Hickory Mountain Plant Farm in Pittsboro, North Carolina. There are numerous Hosta gardens around the U.S. As well, which encourage interest in the plants. In fact, the American Hosta Society has its own garden at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum near Minneapolis, where hundreds of varieties are available for the public to view (Pollock). Thus, Hostas are a good investment for nurseries and landscape designers, and as the popularity of Hostas continues to grow, it is certain they will be much more available and appreciated by home gardeners all over the country.

The native habitat for Hostas initially was Japan and Korea and other areas of Asia. Unlike the species today, which are capable of growing in just about any climate, the original Hostas were more limited in their location and growing characteristics. In the wild, Hostas grow in "populations," which can number anything from a few plants to hundreds of plants, usually spread over a wide area. The plants are not "perfect," that is, there are variations in the leaf size and variegation. They are also much more susceptible to pests and disease in the wild, and so, they are not as hardy as those developed for home gardening are. In the wild, they rarely develop into a symmetrical dome-shaped mound, either.

Hostas have adapted to a wide variety of growing conditions, from bogs to deserts, but in their original habitat, they encountered more irrigation and humidity than many encounter today. They do not grow in deep shade, but partial shade is perfect for most varieties. Thus, Hostas are highly adaptable plants, which is one reason why they are so popular today. Today, they are at home in the lush landscapes of Japan, or in a desert shade garden (Schmid).

Optimal growth requires several environmental factors, and these can differ from species to species. Hostas are relatively easy to grow and maintain, which helps them maintain their popularity in the garden. Most Hostas do not need to be divided, as many other perennials do (think of daylilies and irises, for example). However, most Hostas do not reproduce well from seed, and so division is the preferred method of propagating these plants. They also do not need constant watering and fertilizing. Instead, they can take regular fertilizing, as two Hosta experts note. They note gardeners should use "A balanced granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 can be applied early in the spring, followed by an application six weeks later, followed by a midsummer application" (Heinke and Martin). They need about 1-inch of water each week, either naturally or by irrigation. Many growers recommend watering early in the day for the best results. In addition, Hostas can adapt to different locations, and do well in just about any area of the country, from an arid desert environment to zones where winters are severe (they are even known to thrive in Alaska). Therefore, their relative ease of maintenance and adaptability make them good choices for just about any garden environment.

Hostas do have some natural enemies. They are extremely susceptible to snails and slugs, which makes the varieties that are slug resistant highly attractive to many gardeners. They are also susceptible to Black Vine Beetles and Foliar nematodes, both of which attack the leaves. The Beetles can also attack the crown and roots of the plant. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels are also fond of the leaves.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Plant Genus Hosta.  (2007, May 14).  Retrieved May 25, 2020, from

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"Plant Genus Hosta."  May 14, 2007.  Accessed May 25, 2020.