Variegated Hosta: A Low-Maintenance and High-Impact Garden Addition

A perennial favorite for many gardeners, variegated hosta is among the popular plants to grow. These stunning plants add eye-catching color to any yard or garden space. In addition, they don’t need sun and thrive in shaded areas. Most people consider hostas among the best easy-to-grow plants to propagate and care for, but there are still things to remember regarding having the best-grown variegated hosta in your home or office.

Here’s all you need to know about variegated hosta, including specific growing and caring tips.

What is a Variegated Hosta?

Variegated Hosta Background

A variegated hosta is a type of perennial plant that typically has leaves with green or yellow areas outlined in white, cream, or gold. At their tallest point, they can reach two feet in height. Hostas come from the plant family called Plantaginaceae, which includes other plants such as Bellflowers (Campanula), Goatsbeard (Aruncus), Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia), Buttercups (Ranunculus).

Hostas are attractive garden plants for two simple reasons: they don’t need direct sunlight and flourish in the shade, unlike many plants. Furthermore, they are also relatively easy to propagate and care for. Hostas, as perennials, reappear yearly with adequate care, and they can even be grown in pots and containers.

Variegated hosta grows from rhizomatous roots, and in July or late spring, they produce flowers on long stalks that stretch far above the clumping foliage. You can propagate hostas in spring or as soon as the summer heat subsides in early autumn. Remember that variegated hostas are toxic to pets, so be cautious where you put them.

When to Plant Variegated Hosta

You can plant variegated hostas throughout the summer growing season, but they will need additional care (mainly watering) to avoid succumbing to the heat. You can also purchase hostas as potted plants or dormant, bare-root cuttings to plant in the autumn or spring.

Hosta Varieties

Variegated Hosta Varieties

There are fast-growing, medium-growing, and slow-growing varieties among the hundreds of hosta cultivars. Smaller kinds develop quickly and can reach maturity in 3-5 years; the larger variety, on the other hand, can take 5-7 years.

Some of the common hosta varieties are as follows:

  1. H. sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ – This variety grows 30 inches tall with a spread of up to 4 feet. It’s massive (10 by 13 inch) heart-shaped leaves feature a blue-green tint and a corrugated texture.
  2. H. ‘Sum and Substance’ – This massive hosta can grow up to 36 inches tall and 5 feet wide. It has huge heart-shaped leaves that measure up to 15 by 20 inches and are lustrous yellow before becoming golden.
  3. H.’ Patriot’ – This cultivar has medium-sized green leaves with white borders and can grow 18 inches tall and 2 feet wide.
  4. H. sieboldiana’ Frances Williams’ – This variety features 12-inch wide puckered leaves with dark and light green veining. It can grow 18-24 inches in height and up to 5 feet wide.
  5. H. tardiana ‘Halcyon’ – The leaves on this hosta are light, spade-shaped, and gray-blue in hue. It grows in clusters of up to 3 feet broad and 18-24 inches tall.
  6. H. ‘Golden Tiara’ – This variety has light green leaves with a golden border and grows to be approximately 16 inches tall and 3 feet wide.
  7. H.’ Blue Mouse Ears’ – This cultivar is a little hosta that grows just 6-12 inches tall with round, heart-shaped, blue-green leaves.

Propagating Variegated Hosta

The best way to grow variegated hosta is by division, and below are the steps to follow:

  1. First, dig up the plant carefully, not damaging the leaves or roots.
  2. Cut off a section of roots, ensuring it has at least two eyes on it (plantlets) and plenty of healthy leaf tissue.
  3. Plant the division in fresh potting soil, keeping the top of the root in contact with the soil while covering it with an inch or two of soil.
  4. Keep lightly watered until new growth appears. Water is enough to keep the soil moist but never soggy.
  5. Do not fertilize, as this can cause variegation problems. Fertilize when plants are actively growing. Always replant into fresh potting soil so there is no chance of introducing disease spores.
  6. Be careful not to harm any delicate leaves when handling them – they can be damaged easily!

Caring for Variegated Hosta

Hostas, although easy to care for, can still be affected by pests like aphids or white flies, diseases like leaf spots or root rot, and environmental factors like extreme cold or dry soil. While you cannot guarantee your variegated hosta will stay happy and healthy all season long, there are vital steps you can take to ensure it stays healthy and happy.


Hostas tolerate most kinds of soil as long as they are well-drained. However, it would be best if you didn’t plant them in clay soil since it retains too much moisture. They also like soil rich in organic materials and has an acidic pH. Use a well-drained regular commercial potting soil for hostas grown in pots.


Variegated hosta can thrive in complete shade, but most varieties flourish in dappled sunlight for a few hours daily. Examine the light needs of your hosta variety. The plant may be exposed to too much sunlight if the leaves have a dull tint, brown tips, or a dull color. Planting them in a shady area will help protect the leaves from scorching by the sun. To avoid frost damage to your variegated hostas, place them in containers and bring them indoors before winter arrives.


Variegated hosta flourishes in moist soil but not soggy soil. You will want to water them occasionally during dry spells but not too much so that they become waterlogged. They only require average watering (1 inch per week) in the summer months and less water in the winter. They also like soil that drains quickly, so be sure not to overwater them. However, in the late fall, ensure to cut back on their watering until spring, when you can start up again.


Variegated hostas usually need less nitrogen as they produce more chlorophyll than green hostas. To ensure your variegated hosta stay green all year long, fertilize them with a high-nitrogen fertilizer once a month. Fertilize in the spring with compost or a mixed organic fertilizer. In the fall, after the leaves turn yellow, stop fertilizing.


It is extremely important to mulch variegated hosta plants before you plant them. Mulching helps with water retention and protection against weeds and protects delicate foliage by shading them from the sun. However, avoid using too much mulch as this could lead to excess moisture around the plant roots, promoting disease.

Humidity and Temperature

Variegated hostas are not picky about humidity or temperature and can thrive in various environments. It is recommended to plant them in an area shielded from severe winds. Typical indoor temperatures are suitable for variegated hostas, especially when grown in pots, as long as they get a chilly time for winter dormancy.


Variegated hostas are perennials, meaning they grow over many years. To keep them healthy, ensure you prune the plants every year. It is best to prune the plants during their dormant period in late fall or winter. Avoid cutting back the foliage to less than half of its original length. Some gardeners trim off all of their leaves during the summer months so that their new growth will have more time to recover before winter sets in.

Common Problems of Variegated Hosta

Variegated hosta is susceptible to several pests, diseases, and environmental factors. Snails and slugs that gnaw ragged holes in the leaves of variegated hostas can destroy the plants if left untreated. Other problems that affect variegated hosta include:

Shredded Leaves

Hail storms can severely injure hosta leaves, resulting in disease concerns. It would be best if you clipped the damaged leaves whenever you notice these signs.

Burned Leaf Edges

Too much sun, which burns the leaves, frequently causes brown, withered margins on hosta leaves. In the summer, keep the plant properly hydrated and give some shade. Leaves that have been damaged may be clipped and tossed.

Spots on the Leaves

This is frequently an indication of a bacterial or fungal infection. Keep these diseases at bay by leaving plenty of space between plants and watering them with soaker hoses rather than aerial sprays.

Yellow Foliage

This often indicates crown rot; your plant is most likely a victim of excessive watering or rain. Yellow leaves that have been severely damaged will have to be removed and destroyed.

Variegated hostas are stunning plants and are perfect for those who want a bit of variety in their garden. Due to their variegated nature, they cannot be used in large numbers or as lawn replacements, and they can be an effective ground cover and add some flair to your backyard. Regardless of your application, these beautiful plants will make a statement wherever they’re planted!

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