These herbaceous plants are native to Japan and China, and grow successfully over quite a wide climactic range, being frost hardy but also doing reasonably well in the mild Sydney climate. They offer fantastic foliage to the garden in the warmer months, and the bonus of pretty, nodding flowers in shades of white, pink, mauve or pale blue, in late summer and early autumn. The range of leaf patterns and sizes is phenomenal, with many variegated forms. The base colour of the foliage can be bright green, muted green, lime, gold, yellow or blue-green. There are around 40 species, but in general, we tend to see the many named cultivars.
Hosta love shade - their leaves will scorch badly if grown in a sunny position. They need rich, moist soil, and like to be fed regularly during the growing season. They die right back to the ground in winter. In Sydney, it seems best to grow them in pots, where the conditions can be controlled better for optimum growth. The pots can be moved out of sight in winter then brought out again when the gorgeous new leaves appear in spring. A group of potted Hosta can look delightful in a shady courtyard. A few potted ferns grown with them would provide a contrast of foliage texture. The chief enemies of these plants are slugs and snails. It is necessary to guard against these pests to grow Hosta well. Multiguard is a snail bait that is not toxic to birds and other animals.