Made in the Shade

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CAN YOU BELIEVE that it is already August? Summer is nearly gone, but now is the hottest time of the year. Any time spent in the garden is surely better in the shade!! So why not make that shady garden area a place of real beauty and real COOL? Whenever I think of shade, I think of hostas. They will undoubtedly become one of your all-time favorite plants. Why? Because they are the perfect perennial!! Hostas are easy to grow, elegant in design, shade loving yet sun tolerant, come in a variety of colors and sizes, produce exotic flowers and get along easily with other plants in the shade garden.
Where do I buy a hosta plant? Almost all yard and garden nurseries will carry them. They may only carry varieties known to do well in your area. No problem. That is a great way to start. Keep in mind that you will probably want more than one plant. You can plant them anytime during their growing season, which is spring through fall. You will want to make sure they are planted in rich, well-drained soil and given adequate water for a month or two after planting. This is especially important if planting in the summer months. Mulching hostas is a great idea to show them off and keep that moisture base evenly distributed.
Once established, a hosta will mature in 3-6 years and produce the lushest foliage at this point. You will see beautiful long stems of flowers which can range in color from white to lavender.  You do not need to divide hostas, but after three years you may want to thin them out a bit to keep them from grossly overlapping.  Remember, the leaves are the real glory of this shade lover.  The darker the leaves, the more shade tolerant. Hostas with lighter leaves will tend to endure more sun-imbued spots.
What problems might I have with hostas? Slugs love their showy leaves and may make them appear lace-like, which is not a good hosta look. If your shady areas have lots of slugs or snails, opt for hostas with thicker leaves as those pests prefer a softer chew! As the plants mature, the leaves will become thicker and this in itself may help. Also, the mulching will help keep the crawlers away as they prefer a smooth travel surface. Foliage will begin to die back when cold nights set in. Do not fear—it will return in the spring!! You can let the dying foliage stay around as extra cold weather protection or cut it back and add a little more mulch. I like to cut the dead away so that in spring there is a fresh new plant!
Be careful when starting a hosta garden as they do tend to become an addiction!! So many to choose from and so many colors—you must google this amazing plant and see all the possibilities of making that shady garden spot the most beautiful place in your yard!!
Stay COOL!!





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