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Lush, perennial hosta plant will grow here

July 12, 2013
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Special to The Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The perennial hosta plant will thrive here. The lush perennial hosta plant was always a favorite of mine while living in Southern New Jersey. I depended on that plant as an easy growing border plant.

When I moved here, I was told they do not do well at all in the hot Florida sun. I never challenged that notion and indeed do not see a lot of them around in yards. Last year some reading about hostas that would grow well here made me decide to give them a try.

I am from the school of thought that you cannot believe all you read, however even though I do not see any hostas with a sign that says "grow in Florida," I did, with some misgiving, purchase a plant.

It is no longer with me. My fault. It did very well all summer long, in a spot with some morning sun and all afternoon bright light. I put it in a pot to try and keep out any friendly slugs or snails. No slugs or snails happened by. However, it ended up under some low palm fronds in a far corner of the lain. And did not receive enough water and it declined and I just figured, oh well, can't believe everything you read.

Window-shopping at a large Garden Center about three weeks ago, I was amazed to see a large offering of beautiful hostas and, after talking with a knowledgeable sales person, decided to take another chance.

I know, we cannot always believe everything you hear from a salesperson either, however, I have had good luck at this particular center and after hearing that I was probably at fault for the demise of my plant, because I had not kept it watered enough, I couldn't resist trying again.

You know very well if you read this column that one of my major faults around here is not enough watering. The soil plantings, the lain, and the sunny picture window in the dinning room, are all at risk of having to thrive in serious drought conditions.

It really is not because I cannot afford the city water bill each month. I actually pay extra for that little box out there in the grass that will allow me to use all the gray water I want, which I do not want because I have a well.

I do have several watering cans, although not as many as a gardening friend of mine has. She has at least six. Big, little, old, antique, you name it. Somehow they all add to the charm of her well stocked lain. You can tell she uses them, every darn plant there is extremely healthy.

I do not have any trouble buying plants, trimming, feeding or making sure there is proper drainage and light, just have a blind spot for proper watering. My blind spot should be buying plants, but I guess I am too old to change now.

OK, I have this big lush hosta that may be named "Patriot," or maybe not.

The tag with the plant does not say, but it looks like one I see on the computer.

It has long, almost heart-shaped leaves with a green puckered center and wide creamy margins. Yes, I mean puckered center. The contrast of that green center with the smooth creamy edges is striking.

I am keeping it in a pot where I can see it easily. It is getting at least an inch of rain every week and draining well. It gets about 2 hours of morning sun and the rest of the day just bright light.

When it flowers there will be long thing stalks about 2 feet tall with a spray of small simple flowers mostly at the top.

I will not be keeping any seeds for next year so will cut back the stalks as soon as the flowers fade. The flowers may be scented, however I will not know that until they arrive. Not all hosta flowers are scented. I very seldom bother with seeds, too long to wait for results when I can just divide a clump of plant and have immediate results. The seeds do not always come back true to the original plant.

To plant hostas in soil, just make a large planting hole nice and wide and set the plant deep enough so that the crown is just a little above the soil line. Then push up the loosened soil around crown lightly and water in well. The plant will just sink right in. A plain deep green plant likes more shade, or dappled.

It seems a little late, but you can use nice loosened soil, organic is best, and lightly fertilize with a 10-10-10. I will sprinkle some worm casting around also.

In the fall, here after October or later when leaves are looking kind of dried and droopy, you can cut it down to the ground, or at least trim out any dead or dried parts. Do not fertilize until spring. Little shoots will come up in early spring.

Mulch is good if in soil, like pine mulch or some chip,s but do not press mulch up around the plant, it needs to breath. If you plant several, make sure you leave 6 to 10 inches space between.

If you see little round holes in leaves at some point, it will be slugs. Spread some coarse sand around it our use your favorite slug bait.

There are a lot of choices with many colors, of leaves, even blue and flowers. We can thank China and Japan for these plants that were brought over to Europe in the 1700s. No history notes on the brave traveler who brought them to America.

You may have to look a little for these plants, or maybe take a drive south to find them but they are there and they will grow here. Just make sure you water them and drain them well.

Happy gardening until we meet again.

H.I Jean Shields is a past president of the Cape Coral Garden Club and the Potpourri Designers.



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