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Planing a new hosta bed

Claudia _michigan
December 4, 2018

I purchased during the fall sales quite a few hostas. Some I got 3 of the same variety (like August Moon and Paradig) at 90% off nursery price i am not picky.

i wonder if you guys could give me some tips how you started to “map” out a new garden bed?

i do know the shape of my bed, I “know“ roughly how big each hosta gets (Small/medium/large)

when playing multiple of one variety, should I plant them close to each other and than plant a contrasting Hosta next or separate them in different parts of the garden?

Comments (13)
  • B Maggic-Ontario Z6

    Following, I’d like to know this too. I’m doing the same but don’t have a bed mapped out, just want to plant a woodland of hostas under pines. My thought is to start placing the largest ones first and surround them with contrasting others.

  • Terry Haselden (7b, SC)

    Always struggle with this myself. In GENERAL, I start with the larger varieties towards the back, and flank them with smaller contrasting varieties. Contrast could take the form of solid beside variegated, smooth beside cupped, green beside gold/yellow, etc. But, sometimes that's harder than it sounds. For example, you might plant a gold amongst some greens. If that gold is Viridescent (sp?), it may start the summer as a gold amongst greens, but end the season as a green amongst greens. Lutescents would be just the opposite.

    I tend to allow fairly good spacing between them, in hopes that they will eventually reach their expected sizes. But, this can be frustrating because of varying growth rates. Keep telling myself to be patient and resist the urge to relocate a plant before it has matured.

    To me, the hardest part is what to do with similar variegated varieties. Some tend to be so similar that it's hard to tell them apart at first glance. Doesn't make sense to plant those close together. BUT, there are SO MANY of those varieties that sometimes it's inevitable. That's another reason I space them a fair distance apart. You can always plant non-hostas between them to try to establish a little contrast.

    Bottom line, it's all trial and error for. One of the great things about hostas is they are so resilient and pretty easy to move. Whenever I'm paralyzed by overanalyzing the placement decision, I try to remind myself that You Can Always Move Them.

  • oursteelers 8B PNW

    I spend hours in the winter while we watch football on Sunday planning gardens. It’s fun for me and relaxes me when the games don’t always go as I want.

    With hostas I definitely like to let pattern guide me, more so probably than size. I don’t mind the surprise of a large one in the front of their leaves favor each other.

    Now having said that, sometimes a new plant comes along that wasnt around when I made my plans or I forget an earlier intention....then I just throw it in the groun-can always move it later:)

  • nicholsworth Z6 Indianapolis

    the garden pics that you've posted were lovely!!..you won't have any trouble :-) it's flattering that you've asked us for advice..just my opinion but I like multiples of the same hosta planted together..

  • windymess z6a KC, Ks

    Wish I could say I was an expert, but it's hit-or-miss, then fix-it, for me.... though I do spend quite a bit of time thinking/planning, as oursteelers said. And, I agree with all of the above - you have a good eye for this already.

    But, here's an article that has some good info about designing with hostas:


    Another article I read suggested that you design a series of 'vignettes', with some unifying theme - like color. Then repeat those colors throughout the garden in differnt 'vignettes'.

    And, this isn't about planting multiples, but it's probably good advice from the Hallson website: "Start with a variegated plant. Place a solid on either side..1 of centre colour & 1 of margin colour. On either side of the solids can use the opposite variegated colouring e.g. if that first hosta had a yellow centre then this time choose hostas with green centre and yellow edge. (have fun...break rules...move plants if not pleasing to your eye)."

    Otherwise, I suggest just looking at lots of pictures online and copy the ideas that look good to you.

  • Claudia _michigan

    Thank you everyone for your replies and compliments. You are all such a kind people.

    sometimes I feel like the more I look and save pictures to my phone the more “blind” I get and of course I spent more money on plants, because I need just that ONE plant to get it just like that picture.

    thank you windymess for reminding me of the article! ita been a while since I read it and it is helpful.

    i couldn’t help myself ... today I want to the nursery again and noticed 2 Island Breeze. They where about to be tossed. I litterally climed into that container to pull them out. Payed $3 :-)

    my husband was over the weekend at all the locations and got us 5 Japanese maples some blue evergreens and for my collection a Hudson Bay And 2 Mighty Joe Astilbes

    he is so sweet.

  • Babka NorCal 9b

    Plan what you think you will like, then once they come up you will probably end up moving some of them, which is rather easy when they are small, just a few eyes. Gardening is really about moving things around, because just when you think you have figured it all out, something dies, or gets way too big or....... Even the best laid plans get changed. With hostas it is not difficult to do. You might need the crane after a decade, but by then all the surroundings have changed.

    The JOY of gardening?


  • windymess z6a KC, Ks

    Wow, you can buy perennials in the nursery at this time of year? Around here, they’re all gone and the nurseries have only houseplants, supplies, poinsettias and other Christmasy things.

  • B Maggic-Ontario Z6

    I really like this thread, lots of good ideas.

    Claudia, that’s great you scored all those companion plants too. Hudson Bay is also supposed to a very hardy one.

    I was also able to get some more fall clearance this week, a mini skirt hosta, tatting fern and 4 jumbo sweet tea heucherella. I couldnt believe they still had plants, but they were packing them away. Funny I went in for bulbs and ended up planting as flurries were starting...ground was not frozen though.

  • beverlymnz4

    When I designed my last garden, I placed the large ones first, with hopes of not ever having to move them. Then smalls, some of which were placed between larges such that I will have to move them eventually. I don't mind moving small hostas or even mediums with some help. The low bargain prices you have gotten make them cheaper than annuals so go ahead and place them too tight and move some later if you wish. Sort of a now and later design.

    As far as same ones, I prefer groups if I have three to five, but someone else might want to use them for repetition. When I have two the same I usually put them in two different locations and which ever one grows best wins. I will leave you with an old photo of my sister's grouping of 5 August moon hosta in her garden. A favorite of both hers and mine.

  • popmama

    Babka, when I read your post, I realized something. Maybe it's just me, but I see a difference between gardening and landscaping. I see "landscape" design as a plan that is designed, planted, and maintained. Whereas I guess I see gardening as an ongoing process that includes a love of planting, maintaining, acquiring, re-arranging, and fluctuating. I'm sure this isn't the official definition and I mean no offense to plans. But I guess I just love "gardening". I love the planting. I love the re-arranging. It is that constant process that keeps me going!

  • cyn427

    When I have multiples, I like to put three together and then have one other off a little ways to complement and offer some flow to the garden. Of course, everyone here is much more successful than I, so not sure anyone should listen to me. We will see how the bed I planted last year looks next spring.

  • windymess z6a KC, Ks

    cyn- that sounds like a good idea.

    Beverly- think I’ll take your advice with a couple that I have two of... put them in very different locations and see how they do.

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