Commonly grown in north-facing perennial borders and under shade trees, hostas are one of few flowering plants that can fill low-light areas with not only colorful flowers and leaves but stunning architectural forms.
As if this wasn’t enough reason to add variegated hosta varieties to your garden, they’re also exceptionally resilient and require very little upkeep, once established. Even those grown in harsh, winter climates can be seen popping up, year after year.
Keep reading to discover a collection of gorgeous hostas, each with unique colors and patterns, to liven up your outdoor spaces in spectacular style.
Types of Hosta Plants
Knowing which hosta type will thrive in your intended planting space is critical to their success. Let’s take a look at some key differences between them.
These petite perennials reach 5-10” tall, with a 12” spread, at maturity, and can be highly complementary when used to fill bare spots around larger plants.
With few exceptions, highly variegated types have fewer chlorophyll cells and need a balance of light and shade to photosynthesize and prevent leaf scorch.
Hostas with lighter variegation (greener leaves) prefer a shady location. With more chlorophyll in their leaves, photosynthesis is more efficient in lower light.
13 Varieties of Hosta
Each of the following has its own specific maturity sizes, sunlight requirements, and water, soil, and nutrient preferences. These specifications will help guide you toward the best matches for what your intended planting location offers and your overall garden aesthetic.
1. June Fever
This elegant variety presents glossy, gold leaves, accentuated by contrasting blue-green margins with strokes of sage green throughout.
A low, wide-spreading profile tops out at 12” by 30”, with tall lavender blooms rising from within, in mid-summer.
This was discovered as a random mutation of the ‘June’ hosta (which you’ll see in a moment) and grows best in part sun/part shade, with gold variegation becoming more prominent in brighter light.
Smooth, slippery textured leaves have demonstrated a hardy resistance to slugs and snails. As well as a bitter taste that is off-putting to dear and other wildlife.
The Vulcan hosta offers a striking contrast with crisp white and light green streaming down the center of large, dark green, heart-shaped leaves, at the way to the tip. Violet blooms emerge on tall stalks from mid to late summer.
This is a vigorously growing hybrid that reaches 22” high by 36” wide, at maturity and thrives in both shade and dappled sunlight.
As with all variegated hosta varieties, the Vulcan requires well-draining, loamy soil. But, can adapt to different pH levels.
However, the slightly embossed leaf veining gives them a grooved texture which slugs and snails may find attractive.
This hosta is an absolute show-stopper with chartreuse and turquoise variegation on large, teardrop-shaped leaves. Their puckered texture is reminiscent of seersucker fabric, which only adds to the plant’s visual appeal.
Slugs should be attracted to this textured plant that spans 2’ tall by 4’ wide. But, it’s surprisingly resistant to them.
In full or partial shade, creamy white flowers (rather than lavender) rise and hover just above these brightly colored leaves in July.
Flowers increase in number when the Tokudama is planted in moist, fertile, well-draining soil. Although, it isn’t terribly fussy about soil structure or pH level.
As promised, this is the ‘June’ variegated hosta from which the ‘June Fever’ hosta mutated. Interestingly enough, this cultivar is a mutation of the ‘Halcyon’ which has solid blue leaves and no variegation to speak of.
This fascinating cultivar demonstrates this mutation by how dense chlorophyll cells are along each leaf margin while losing their ability to rapidly multiply along the center midrib. Resulting in a neon green hue.
As a whole, this hosta matures to 18” high by 24-30” wide and is also slug resistant. Making it a fantastic option for creating intriguing lushness in small garden spaces.
5. Fire and Ice
This dwarf variety appears similar to the ‘Vulcan’, with broad splashes of white on medium green. Yet, leaves are more narrow with a twisting and undulating habit.
Reaching 2 ft tall and wide, the ‘Fire and Ice’ prefers partial shade to protect it from leaf scorch. Lavender, lily-like flowers bloom in July and August on 20” stems and will develop multiple buds per stem in well-draining, fertile soil.
Unfortunately, slugs and snails are attracted to the low-growing, smooth nature of the leaves. Precautionary measures against this may be necessary if these pests are prevalent in your area.
The Minuteman makes a grand statement in partially shaded areas as it matures to 18” tall by 30” wide. Large, white leaves are accentuated by distinct veining and swaths of green down the midribs.
This variegated hosta can tolerate more sun as long as the soil is continually moist. This will protect white leaves against burning and keep plants from drying out in direct sunlight.
Nectar-filled flower buds emerge in July a bright white and turn a deep lavender as they open. The Minuteman is an ideal choice in woodland gardens as its bitter taste repels deer and rabbits.
This second dwarf variety is a sport (random mutation) of the large ‘Halcyon’ Hosta, presenting long, tapered leaves with thick blue-green margins that mature to a much smaller 12” tall by 23” wide.
The magic of ‘Moonstruck’ is how its leaves alter their color and variegation patterns in different seasons and in varying levels of sunlight.
New leaves emerge with buttery yellow centers that ebb to a crisp white as days grow longer. Chlorophyll cells fade where green meets white to offer a third color in its variegation when planted in morning or afternoon sun and well-draining soil.
The mini ‘Kabitan’ is even shorter than ‘Moonstruck’ at just 10” tall. Golden, lanceolate leaves, trimmed in light green, emerge in tufted form. The lithe structure of each gives them a soft, undulating appearance.
Deep lavender flowers on 20” tall stems appear in midsummer with very little intervention. Provided that the soil is well-draining and fertile. Preferring partial shade, areas of yellow may fade to white in brighter light.
The Kabitan thrives in pots filled with sandy loam and is ideal for small garden spaces or bare pots in borders that could use a pop of color and interest.
9. Lakeside Paisley Print
In moist, fertile soil and equal parts light and shade, this new dwarf variety presents scalloped-heart leaves with exquisite variegation in white, pale yellow, light green, and cyan that mimics paisley print.
In consistently lower light, green chlorophyll cells will multiply for better photosynthesis. Minimizing variegation down to creamy white swirls that resemble fern fronds.
Luckily, the thickness of leaves, plus a hardy, hybrid parentage, make these resistant to slug damage.
The unique patterns of the Lakeside can be used to embellish container gardens and perennial borders, alike, as it stays 12” tall by 25” wide.
10. Mini Skirt
This fun and frilly variegated hosta is the smallest (and perhaps cutest!) on this list. Growing to 5” tall with a 13” spread, its mounded form fills with cream and butter yellow leaves wrapped with a band of deep blue-green.
With fewer chlorophyll cells, the Mini Skirt hosta prefers partial to full shade and damp (but not soggy), well-draining soil. Surprisingly, leaves will lose some variegation and become greener In brighter light.
If perennial, container gardening is your game, this tiny hosta is a fantastic choice. Pairing well with flowering annuals and foliage-focused plants like heuchera and coleus.
11. First Blush
First blush is unique among hostas for its pink and green iridescence. Presented in 2014, this fledgling cultivar is the result of careful cultivation using the Beet Salad hosta as a parent.
In fertile, well-draining soil, the magenta color of stems and petioles begin to flow out through each leaf, as the plant matures to 12” tall by 24” wide.
Partial sunlight will maintain this magical show. Although, this variegated hosta variety, in general, will grow just as well in shade.
As summer wanes and days become shorter, leaves will turn a rich, green hue for better photosynthesis.
12. White Feather
Maturing to a petite 10” tall by 12” wide, the White Feather hosta welcomes spring with pure white leaves, accented by faint, green veining. As the weather warms and leaves mature, underlying chlorophyll cells begin to multiply. Creating a beautiful plant with ever-changing, green, and cream variegation.
However, chlorophyll cells never become abundant enough to protect these pearly leaves from sun scorch. A shaded location with dappled sunlight is best. As is a moderately moist, well-draining soil.
When the White Feather hosta is happy, Indigo blooms will celebrate summer, as they hover and sway just above the foliage.
13. Hosta Plant Care
This dwarf hosta will thrive in at least 4 hours of shade. But, prefers more. In lower light, cream, and blue-green variegation remains clear and vibrant.
In the brighter sun, thickset leaves will lose their patterning, becoming a solid gray-green.
A mature size of 8” by 12” is reached quickly when planted in consistently moist, fertile soil and protected from strong winds and rain.
Like all hostas, it’s best to water the Might Mouse in the morning. This will allow the foliage to dry off before nightfall. Any remaining water on leaves could result in mildew and bacterial infections.
Hosta Plant Care
With such a grand menagerie of stunning specimens, you may be wondering how best to care for them. Luckily, variegated hosta varieties are some of the easiest garden plants to maintain.
Hostas prefer partial sunlight or full shade, depending on the cultivar. The Royal Horticultural Society suggests moist, loamy, or sandy, well-drained soil with a 5.5 – 7.5 pH. This structure will support sufficient nutrient absorption and provide adequate root aeration.
If you have small children and/or pets, keep in mind that while hostas are considered edible, they contain saponins that can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.
Once established, hostas rarely need fertilizing. However, newly planted varieties benefit from a handful of slow-release granules with a balanced NPK added to the planting hole.
Choose companion plants for hostas that add to their aesthetic but also provide a mutually beneficial relationship. Try mint, chives, parsley, or sage as companion plants to help deter common hostas pests, such as slugs and snails.
Large varieties can be easily divided, once mature.
- Remove the roots from the soil.
- Divide the root ball in two.
- Replant them in your desired location, followed by ample watering.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you keep hostas variegated?
Most variegated hosta varieties require sunlight to maintain variegation. In these cases, sunlight keeps chlorophyll cells from increasing production for improved photosynthesis. However, there are a few dwarf varieties that prefer partial to full shade, while maintaining defined variegation.
What does Epsom salt do for hostas?
Epsom salts, in moderation, are beneficial for many plants. Hostas, in particular, are a rich source of magnesium. Which works to increase water retention, minimizing the amount of supplemental water they need to thrive. It also boosts chlorophyll production for improved photosynthesis and more defined variegation.
- Royal Horticultural Society – Hosta ‘Variegated’ (_fluctuans_) – plantain lily ‘Sagae’
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.