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Saturday, July 6, 2019

All about those Beautiful Blue Hostas!

When it comes to the colors of perennial plants in the garden, blue is by far the most rare and is also one of the many reasons that blue hostas are so popular, and the bigger the better.  But how do blue-leafed hostas develop and keep that beautiful blue tint? 

In a nutshell, blue hostas develop a glacuous waxy layer that develops as they emerge which helps to protect the leaves from harmful weather, and that blue wax causes the light to reflect in such a way that gives the hosta leaves that bluish coloring. 

Blue hostas will get bluer and bluer throughout the years as they reach maturity, usually about four to five years.

There are several shades of blue and a lot of a hosta's final color depends on the specific hosta's characteristics.  Some of those characteristics include:

 Leaf Shape


Blueberry Muffins

The leaf shape of a blue hosta will also cast a different shade of blue on the leaves. For instance, leaves that are twisted or heavily corrugated like the above Blueberry Muffins Hosta or that have deep veins will cast a deeper blue than hostas with smooth leaves.

Location, Location, Location

Blue hostas grown in warmer locations may only keep their blue hue until late June, while in the northern climates, the leaves will remain blue longer. 

How to Keep those Blue Hostas Blue!

To keep the best “blue” on your hosta, it is most important that you plant it in the right location. Morning sun and afternoon shade will give your blue hosta just enough sun to thrive and just enough shade to keep that blue color longer.

Most hostas perform well in such a location, but it is even more important with the blue ones. Direct sun or too much sun can fade or melt off the blue wax making the leaves look green for the rest of that season. Also without that waxy layer, the leaves can burn more easily.
The above picture of a Carolina Blue leaf shows how rain can wash off that blue waxy coating. It may surprise you to know that the blue wax on the leaf can also be rubbed off with your finger. You may notice the hosta leaves turning from blue to green all over or in spotty locations when there's much more rainfall than usual.

The Best Blues

There is much debate on which hostas are the “best” blue-leafed cultivars. While the answer to that is very subjective, here at Sunset Hosta Farm we have grown many types, and these are the blue hostas that we prefer to grow and sell.

Large/Very Large Hosta

Mature Size:  Large    Height 28”    Width up to 40”
Chalky blue cupped leaves which retain their blue color for most of the growing season. White to pale lavender flowers appear in mid summer.


Blue Angel Hosta

Mature Size:  Very Large     Height 32”   Width up to 70"
One of the bluest hostas. The blue leaves are heavily textured and heart-shaped. They form a nice-sized flowing mound. White to lavender flowers appear in mid summer. Blue Angel will also draw in the butterflies.

Blue Hawaii

Mature Size:   Very Large      Height 30”   Width up to 42”
These thick blue hosta leaves are upright, vase-shaped and slightly cupped and corrugated. Blue Hawaii holds its blue color well through the season. It is also slug resistant. White blooms are fragrant. Great as a specimen plant or in a container


Blue Umbrellas


Mature Size:   Very Large     Height 33”   Width up to 72”
It's not only a garden standout, it's also a vigorous grower and sun and slug tolerant. It will greet you in the spring with nice blue umbrella-shaped leaves and pale lavender flowers that appear in the summer.


Mature Size:   Very Large     Height 30"   Width up to 60"
Elegans has huge,  heart-shaped blue leaves with heavy ribbing and prominent veins making it resistant to slugs. Dainty white flowers emerge in mid summer.  Its solid color and large size make Elegans a favorite as a backdrop for smaller colorful perennials.  Winner of the Best Blue Leaf Award at the AHS Convention in 1986.

Krossa Regal

Mature Size: Very Large     Height: 33"   Width up to 70"
This hosta can't help but get noticed. Krossa Regal has frosty gray-blue leaves that are vase shaped with slightly wavy edges. Spikes of lavender bell-shaped flowers on top of 5' scapes appear in late summer. Krossa Regal will get wider as it matures, so give this one plenty of space. Great when used as a specimen plant or in a container. Pair this one with a creamy variegated hosta like H. June for a dramatic garden statement. The thick leaves makes it slug resistant, too.

Medium Sized Hostas 

Blue Cadet Hosta

Mature Size: Medium     Height 15”   Width Up to 38” 
The blue heart-shaped leaves are heavily textured and have a nice mounding habit. They have a vigorous growth habit that will fill an area quickly. Tubular lavender flowers rise above the foliage mid summer. Great as a border plant or ground cover.


Carolina Blue Hosta

Mature Size:   Medium     Height 18”   Width up to 32”
This sport of 'Halcyon' and 'Riptide' makes a medium-sized mound of light blue rounded leaves that hold their color through most of the season even in warmer climates. Pale purple flowers shoot up in July and August. Tolerates morning sun very well.

Fragrant Blue

Mature Size:  Medium    Height:  20"   Width up to 48"
Fragrant Blue is one of the most popular chalky blue hostas for many reasons.  One is its tendency to produce new foliage all season long keeping that beautiful blue color going.  The leaves of its wide clumps are lightly corrugated with a wavy margin.  It's a rapid grower, slug resistant, sun tolerant and it's fragrant to boot!

Hadspen Blue

Mature Size:  Medium    Height:  18"   Width up to 30"
Hadspen Blue sports an elegant mound of heart-shaped powdery blue leaves.  It's slug resistant due to its thick cupped and corrugated foliage.  Its medium size lends it well for use in a border, as a ground cover and in containers.  This one has great texture and form!


Mature Size:  Medium     Height 18”   Width Up to 36”
A very popular steel blue hosta with heart-shaped leaves and heavy ribbing. Very sturdy, compact and reliable grower. Looks great in containers, too. Holds that beautiful blue color well through the season. One of the bluest, and this one's been used to create many sports.

Mini and Small Hostas

Blue Mouse Ears Hosta

Mature Size: Mini     Height 8”   Width Up to 19”
Hosta of the Year 2008 for good reason. The medium blue/green mouse ear shaped leaves are nothing short of adorable. Outstanding lavender to white lily-like flowers atop graceful stalks. Great for rock gardens. Also slug resistant. 

To Sum Up

Hostas are such a forgiving perennial, they can easily be moved to a more suitable location until it's in just the right spot. If the leaves do turn green for a season, not to worry. The blue waxy coating will return as the hosta emerges the next season.

The blue colors of hostas have been described in many ways, including deep blue, powdery blue, intense blue, icy blue, silvery blue and chalky blue. But no matter which term you use, with the right care and placement, blue hostas will add a peaceful, cooling feeling to your perennial shade garden.


Where to go next!

Love hostas or know someone who does?
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