Tell me about your Carolina hosta experiences!

Raleigh, NC

I'm leaving in 3 days for Wisconsin. Along the way I'm going to be visiting a lot of gardens, iris farms, and hosta nurseries. my goal is to visit at least two gardens a day as I meander towards my goal and back again.

So, tell me about what hostas are growing well for you in Carolina? our heat and humidity challenge these beauties, and I'm wondering which ones do well for you? which have done poorly?

Any particular other shade loving plants you are loving in your yards?

As of now I'm going to : (for siberian and japanese irises, but they have hostas)
Hallson's, for hostas and shade perennials
(maybe) Bluestone
(maybe) Rainbow acres
(maybe) Hollingsworth

Thumbnail by bonjon
Johns Island, SC

If in your search for Southern Hostas you don't hit Plants Delight (just outside Raleigh, N.C.), bonjon, you've wasted your whole trip! That Tony Avent can grow some Hostas! Every one I've got from him has done remarkably well, and I consider myself as a "total clutz" when it comes to plant survival. My personal favorite hosta is one called
"Stained Glass"...It's been in a big pot for 7 years, and I've transplanted at least 10 "pups"...all doing well in the borders...

Raleigh, NC


I'm a volunteer at Juniper Level Botanical Gardens, so I'm extremely familiar with Tony's hostas. That's where I got bit by the hosta bug.

Want more!

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I grow this cultivar of hosta, as well as many others. I got hooked on hostas when I lived in NJ ( zone 7b due to Phila heat island effect). This time of year they are beautiful and robust, but mine tend to fade and look frazzled by mid July. I have mine mixed with variegated shell ginger, which takes off in July as my hostas decline. Stono, do your hostas remain robust throughout the summer? Even those planted in full shade in my backyard can't handle the midland's intense summer heat. Bonjon,I bet yours will thrive up in Raleigh.

Bluffton, SC(Zone 9a)

In general hostas will fail. If you go that route PD is the place to go. I also think why force the matter something else must grow here that has interest and I've done well enough heading that way.

Just a thought.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Just a pic of some hostas in my backyard. I have them mixed with caladiums and ginger.

Thumbnail by donnacreation
Johns Island, SC

The Hostas I have do fade a bit in late summer heat compared to their early season splendor, but never look "ratty". I've killed some of the northern grown varieties, and don't fool with them anymore, but I've had good luck with "Stained Glass", and a number of unnamed/unknown varieties received as local pass along plants. I think micro climates play a large part in success with Hostas. Had a long discussion with Mr. Avent about this a few years ago, and he agreed that siting for a given hosta is critical in the south. All of my Hostas are growing well in "bright shade" (high leaf cover from Live Oaks, less than an hour of direct sun). I misplanted a "pass-along" Hosta last fall---it gets 3 hours of direct sun in the morning (8 a.m.-11 a.m.)in the spring, but as the sun gets higher later in the year, it will be totally in high shade. I'm leaving it there as an experiment.... So far, so good. I find I do have to increase watering later in the season, donnacreation, beyond what my main system provides. But a 1 gal. jug with a pin-hole in the bottom delivers enough water to keep them happy for 3 days...enough for the main system to catch up.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

I have Allegan Fog (sp?) which is a 'spotty/variegated' one, Ive had for three or four years which is doing very nicely. I also have a few others that have done well, but I have lost MANY - either rabbits, voles, heat, or mice/rats (I live off a farm)... Ill try to catch some names of the others that have survived and thrived for me, our zones are fairly close.

One of my mini's that has bloomed and slowly gotten bigger is Pandora's box.

Im not sure if you have been out to Green Hill Hosta's out in Chapel Hill, Bob Solberg is out there and has some wonderful heat tolerant varieties as well.

Raleigh, NC

I just heard about solberg yesterday for first time, and I'm going to go find him. I heard about him from my roomate here at the iris convention. She's from Charlotte. She felt he was best hosta expert in the Carolinas. think she's been in hosta society.

Grantsboro, NC(Zone 8b)

Tony is the best hosta expert in NC. He has those summer classes that can't be beat.
I would not live if I volunteered at the garden, DH would shoot me for buying all the plants.
Years ago I took Tony a Burg. LOL

I still miss his Sunday paper articles.
I miss you too Bonjon.


Raleigh, NC

LOL - Lavina - - - -

I'm in Madison Wisconsin at the 2010 American Iris Society National Conference!!! On the way here, a DGer put me up for a night, and since I had an extra 24 hrs, took me around garden sightseeing and plant shopping for an extra day. I took her 3 3-gal pots of irises, and 1 1-gal pot of an MTB iris as a thank you gift, but she insisted that I "shop" in her perennial sun beds and in her hosta bed. AND she took me to a place called "Jungle Jim's which is kind of like a Sam's Club crossed with a Whole Foods crossed with a Pier 1.

She fed me so much, too~ then I came here and 1st day went on winery, cheese factory, and ice cream research and factory tours as well as viewed two not-just-iris gardens. Came home with enough wine and cheese that my room mates went out and got crackers, cups and plates and we've been having a great time ever since!

we've had two days of classes and presentations. tomorrow is the last day of 3 days of garden tours. I've found a couple new REALLY BLACK irises to try. Unfortunately, they are fairly far past their peak bloom, so we are seeing only the remnants and the very late bloomers. Still, I like seeing how well an iris blooms in the different gardens, with different amounts of this or that. We've had 2 hours of judges training, and get two more in the garden judges training tomorrow morning. Hope the rain holds off, because they will hold training whether I can take notes or NOT. At 1st it was predicted to rain all 3 garden tour days. So far, we've had only about 2 hours of rain, but not so hard that I didn't have my digital camera out! got tons of photos.

Grantsboro, NC(Zone 8b)

I am jealous
I am really really really jealous


Raleigh, NC

well, I'm back from my trip, Lavina. Didn't see any interesting new black iris this year. but now I've seen black petunias!

our bus captain for the garden tours was from the Milwalkee area, in Menanomee Falls WI. She invited me to stay Sunday night at her house so I could be there when the quarries nearby opened Monday. And she gave me lots of rocks from her garden that she'd dug up. I bought lots of rocks at the quarry for next to nothing. And she directed me to the best quilt shop ever!

Before I went to her home, I went back to the Rotary Gardens which we'd toured. I didn't have enough time to see the peony show there, and they still had it up. then I went to a hosta fest nearby and bought six hostas. After I left Karen's house, I headed for Kalamazoo. Stopped and tasted wines along the way and bought some. By 7pm Monday, I was in's gardens! The fellas were having dinner, so I didn't get much time with them. Next morning I was in Hollingsworth's garden. He got the top award this year for siberian irises. the ensata boys sell theirs for them, and I picked out several to buy. Then I drove down to Hallson's

oh my! he has a wonderful garden. Slooping ground just like mine in the rear of this lot. I explained that I needed short plants that would stay out of the wind in the truck bed. He was kind enough to fresh dig and find some shorties for me, and I think he may have discounted them. He usually only sells 3rd year plants, and much of what I bought was 2nd year. He also sold me his last, little, Gold Heart bleeding heart and the cutiest little "Lilliput" astilbe with shiny foliage! If y'all ever do decide to order online, Chris is just the best to work with. we filled the front of my truck bed with new hosta babies.

So I'll let y'all know what works for me and what doesn't. According to Tony Avent, the demarcation line for zones 7A and 7B runs diagnally through the center of Raleigh. He's zone 7b, I'm in zone 7A. So far about 70% of the hostas I've bought locally have thrived. But I couldn't tell you if it was culture, breeding, or deer that caused the 30% to fail. The DG co-ops for hostas have been a crap shoot for me, over 55% failures, except the Foxfire one, and I hear they aren't doing those any more.

CoreHHI - I should think you would have a lot of problems with hostas in your zone. Most of the ones I've seen say they are zones 3 or 4 to 7 or 8. According to Chris at Hallson's, most of his do well in zone 7, and I didn't buy the one or two he didn't recommend, but I'll be darned if I can remember which they were. He did say he has a lot of problems growing most of the Lakeside lines. I bought 2 Lakesides that did well for him, and rebought many of the ones I'd tried before from the co-ops, as I knew there was something about those I'd researched before and liked.

While I was there, a grower from overseas was touring his garden and was very very impressed. they were talking about the potential of working together. this grower (a small one that has a great name) has spent a fortune testing every plant they had for 12 different viruses and is guaranteeing his plants are virus free. should be interesting

Grantsboro, NC(Zone 8b)

I want black petunias, where were they?
Girl you are getting me in trouble.
So I am 7B zone?



Raleigh, NC

darned if I know Lavina - check with your county extension agent - they'll know for sure. Besides, I heard the forestry service is changing the zones and now we're 8.

editted to add: check with "Baker's Acres" online - google it

This message was edited Jun 16, 2010 4:10 AM

Jacksonville, NC(Zone 8b)

Every Hosta I've ever planted here has flourished. Last year I devided a bunch of mine. I accidently threw away some I thought wasn't looking good.My DH put them in the wheel barrow and they went with the garden trash down to the back of the garden. I forgot all about them.This year, when everything was peeking out of the ground,I had them all [6] standing up waving at me, as if they were saying,Hey! Come and move us back home. Now they are some of my I'll never underestimate them again.I don't even pay much attention to mine other than watering.I love them.

Johns Island, SC

Been there, done that, Lynda! With lots of species. The worst mistake was lopping off a 10' Alocasia Porta Dora at ground level because it appeared totally dead from cold damage. I hoped it would come back from the roots (which it did). Threw the "dead" part out in the woods. Four months later, I had a 3' Porta Dora struggling to grow in the dense shade of the woods. A friend of mine transplanted it to a more appropriate spot in her garden, and it reached 5' tall in that first year! The original roots in my garden only got to 4' tall that year. A Cestrum Nocturnum appeared dead as a doornail this sign of life by the end of May. Since I had carried one over in the GH, I opted to dig up the established plant and replace it with the fresh plant ( I just love that smell!) that I knew would bloom. BUT I DIDN'T throw the old roots away this this time...potted it up in a 3 gal. container (because when I scraped a few roots, they still showed live tissue ...seemed worth a try). And woluld you believe, I've got green growth from those roots...

Jacksonville, NC(Zone 8b)

Yes, I believe it. The same thing happened to some Elephant ears of mine. One day I looked out my kitchen window and lo and behold out in the middle of an old garden spot,[no longer in use] was the biggest Elephant ear I had ever seen. The ones that I had left near the house, were, Again, as if mocking me,it was waveing in the breeze.
Thanks for your input.

Raleigh, NC

yup, irises are like that. Every year that I dig, and with every order i get, there's always a few here and there that start to rotting. I trim them up. sometimes there's nothing more than a small marble left. I started tossing them under a tree, atop the mulch around its base. every year I did that, several would grow, and even bloom! always amazes me.

With this blistering heat, a lot of stuff is searing.

Seabrook, SC(Zone 8b)

I thought, "How did I miss this thread??? I love hosta!" And then I remembered I was on vacation for a couple weeks.

There's a really good thread on the hosta page on hostas for southern gardens. But, I agree, Tony Avent has the best.

Here's a pic of my front yard... I have this hosta problem...

Thumbnail by bordersandjacks
Jacksonville, NC(Zone 8b)

That looks like a problem nobody would mind having. They look really nice there.
Thanks for shareing.

Raleigh, NC

OK, bordersandjacks! you and I need to talk about "our" problems!

I start "processing" the new hostas today. The morning after I arrived home, baby sis called with a parental emergency. Before we were done with that, the IRS came back with a vengence and we scrambled to do their bidding until Tuesday. Now It's time to get busy with these new babies.

My BIL has all the hostas at his home. They leave tomorrow for Snowshoe. I'll get started while he's away. He usually does the hostas, though, and I help.

My overall goal is to have a front bed like yours, bordersandjacks. We have two large oaks out front that just NEED a bed under and around. On their street side, it's sunny enough for irises, but on the house side it's full shade. A former owner put down heavy plastic and a grass lawn all over the front yard, even over a few hurricane created stumps! Of course, the grass never thrived. I've gathered up newspaper and cardboard, and if I'll try for load of compost today.

Grantsboro, NC(Zone 8b)

AAAAH I have a Thailand Giant that is not comming up. Last year it was huge, this year its about 7 inces high and real yellow.


This message was edited Jul 15, 2010 4:53 PM

Raleigh, NC


Johns Island, SC

CoreHHI; Something's been bugging me for months. Back in May, you observed; "In general, Hosta's will fail". That hasn't been my experience with them at all, and I can kill ANYTHING! Multiple times. So I'm curious how you arrived at that conclusion. I shut my mouth at the time because my Hosta's were coming up beautifully again (10th year for the "Stained Glass" a pot...left out year 'round)!, and I didn't want to jinx them. Thought it might be salt-air related, because you're closer to "real" salt air than I am. But then I saw Bordersandjacks pics of her Hosta bed and thought that can't be the reason, because Seabrook is literally "surrounded" by real salt water, and should have been equally susceptible to salt air, if not more so (Seabrook's way smaller than HHI). Salt air can't be the reason for Hosta failure. Long story short, Core, I haven't found any difficulty growing CERTAIN Hosta's here in the low country---and I'm by no means described as a "grower"---more an "experimentor"--- Can't write off the class just yet...

Raleigh, NC

and it's not the climate either - could be that person has soil that won't let the roots breathe? All the richly growing hostas I've ever seen have airy soils.

(Zone 9a)

...and Jenny (bordersandjacks) has very rich, deep soil. Everything she grows looks fabulous.

Actually, she lives inland near Seabrook, the town, not the island. I was confused by the name too. Seabrook is near Gardens Corner on 17.

Johns Island, SC

Good point, bonjon. The hostas I have are planted in 3 different beds, all of which were part of the original "landscaping" we did 22 years ago. I hate weeding, and being heavily bent in the organic gardening direction, I routinely mulch all my cultivated beds every year with 2''-3" of whatever is available. Over the years that soil has become pretty nice---a "spongy" black loam, 6"-10" deep. It also drains well, but retains moisture. So maybe soil is the critical element with these plants. If so, it was purely by accident that I planted them in the oldest beds (they had the most high shade) I got lucky!

Raleigh, NC

well, y'all, I'm having a new hosta experience lately.

My neighbors across the street, delightful older couple, fed the deer that were around about. I warned them they were causing damage in my flower beds, and I was considering getting a bow hunter to hunt my city lot (no, really!). They were agast - I didn't because I didn't want to upset them. But I'd just about had it with them pulling up my recently planted irises.

Ah me. Deer with good source of food don't just thrive, they multiply. Those folks are now moved into assisted living (after his 3 strokes over the winter) and the deer are NOT getting fed.

They have denuded most all my hostas over the last six weeks. It's been about 10 weeks since the neighbors left.

Prior to this, I've never had them eat hostas before. I'd heard they did.

I'm thinking of getting the bow hunter here come dear season. We have a growing small "herd" in the neighborhood. Always sight a few bambis each spring. We are completely surrounded by, but not in, the city of Raleigh, in an area that's nearly all developed, with commercial zones within a quarter mile.

I'm going to move the majority of my hostas to my BIL's house - he has a fence - until I get this taken care of.

(Zone 9a)

I don't have any hostas but I still feel for you, we are having a worse than normal year with the deer. I have sprinkled coyote urine and sprayed with repellents to little avail. The young ones will eat anything - even the plants that are supposed to be deer resistant like salvias and poisonous plants like oleanders and plumeria. I just recently found out a neighbor is feeding them and that has my blood boiling. Some folks have had success by spreading Milorganite in their beds but I am hesitant to use that because my dog runs around in the garden.

Johns Island, SC

I had very good luck with a spray product called "Deer Stopper" for 5 years running. It started not working the 6th year, and the 7th year was a disaster. I switched to a product called "Liquid Fence" on the advice of my nursery-owner friend (and we think WE'VE got problems with deer!!!) a year ago, and it stopped them cold. I've had no deer damage last year or this year. Label claims 6 week protection per application, with no additional spreader-sticker required. Having spent 40 some odd years in Marketing (including writing label claims...), I opted to spray every 4 weeks, and add additional spreader-sticker. I have had literally NO deer damage to anything sprayed for the past 2 years. I HAVE had deer damage to plants that hadn't been sprayed (Camellia's mainly) that hadn't feen foraged before. So I started spraying the Camellia's too. Damage stopped immediately. The only problem with the $pray products i$ the co$t. Those wily manufacturers understand the trade-off we face, and they capitalize on it (spend $100/yr or so protecting your much larger investment in older/special plants, or let the Bambi's eat 'em). I've looked at the ingredients in these various formulations, and they're basically the same main ingredients, but there are some minor differences (which may explain why one worked so well for a time, but started failing as the deer adapted---the slight differences in the formulations may prove critical for awhile. If Liquid Fence stops working, the first thing I'll try is going back to "Deer Stopper"... If that doesn't work,I have a number of friends who actually enjoy killing deer...Don't like that solution, but bottom line, the wily manufacturers got it right. The plant's are more important. They represent countless years of investment and toil...


Raleigh, NC

thanks for the info on the product. I saw yesterday morning (in false dawn light albeit) that they'd been back and devoured everything else they could of hostas.

have been last two days in High Point digging and processing Dr. Roy Epperson's iris garden. High Point Univ. sent some of their grounds crew to do the digging part, so we only dug for an hour or so. Then washed and split and trimmed and labeled for two 12-hour days!

But when the diggers were done, they started gathering up his hostas and his hellabores for the other part of his memorial garden! I can't wait to see what they do with everything. He had a huge number of hostas, all in pots because of voles. and a forest of hellabores. We go back in September to dig the sibirian and species irises.

(Zone 9a)

After reading several other threads about using diatomatious earth to repel insects, I am wondering about how it would do with deer if it were dusted on plants. It should give them a scratchy throat it would seem.

I have been using a product called Permatil in my permanent containers. It is expanded shale and it looks and feels just like gravel. I'm using it in place of perlite which tends to float away during our heavy rain storms and the soil compacts as a result. The permatil is heavy and stays in place providing the proper aeration in containers. It is a NC product. It is also sold as vole block as they do not like digging through it. I believe you mix some in the planting hole and spread it around the plant also.

Raleigh, NC

Permatil is heavy - but NOT as heavy as gravel - they take shale and heat it and it "pops" like popcorn!

It's cool, but way to expensive to use in large quanities like I need. I do put it in the rose bed. It helps with voles, I know, they don't like soil with it in it supposedly. But for that purpose you have to use about twice as much. We were recommended it as a way to get our unbaked brick clay soil to stay loose.

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