Common name: Plantain Lily, Hosta, Funkia

Family: asparagus family (Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae, formerly was listed under the lily family, Liliaceae)

Height x width: 6-30" x 12-36" , varying with cultivar

Growth rate: moderate to fast

Foliage: basal, long petioles, ovate to elliptic to cordate, margins entire occasionally undulate, to 10" long and 2-6" wide, green or bluish glaucous or variously colored white or yellow

Flowers: white to purple, sometimes fragrant, trumpet-shaped, on 12-48" scapes (leafless stem), summer

Hardiness: zones 3-8

Soil: moist, well-drained

Light: part to full shade, will tolerate sun in North if sufficient moisture

Pests and Problems: slugs, hail, wind, leaf spots, crown rot, chewing insects

Landscape habit, uses: shade of tall trees, borders, woodland or natural gardens, good as either specimen or massed

Other interest: native to Japan and China; named for 19th century Austrian physician and botanist Nicolaus Thomas Host; common name said to be either  for German botanist  Heinrich Christian Funk, or vernacular Japanese fukurin fu; common name from resemblance of leaves to common weed plantain; Amer. Hosta Soc. and chapters provide further information

Other culture: low maintenance, rugged and strong grower, controls weeds; allow plenty of space when planting

Propagation: seed (mainly for breeding), division in spring, "rossizing", tissue culture


In the following table:

height--short (under 1'), medium (1-2'), tall (over 2')

bloom--early, mid or late summer

The following are only the most commonly seen species in U.S. commerce.
Species height flower color bloom foliage
capitata short purple mid olive green, undulate
clausa medium purple-rose mid-late olive green, spreading habit
crispula short pale mauve early white-edged
fortunei medium lilac mid green to grayish
gracillima short violet-rose late narrow, lanceolate, undulate
hypoleuca medium pale lavender mid glaucous pale green, ovate
kikutii short white mid arching green
lancifolia medium deep violet late narrow, dark glossy
longipes medium purple, white late green
longissima short rosy mauve late green, creeping habit
minor short mauve mid lustrous green, undulate
montana tall mauve, white mid green, variable
nakaiana short lilac mid green, undulate
nigrescens tall white late early leaves, shoots purplish
*plantaginea tall white late bright yellowish green
*sieboldiana tall lilac,white mid thick bluish green
sieboldii medium purple mid thin white margins
tardiflora short clear mauve late glossy olive above, thick
tibai short pale mauve late glossy, long petiole
tokudama short grayish white mid-late glaucous, rugose, textured
undulata medium lilac mid white, green margins, undulate
*ventricosa tall violet late dark green, vein netting
*venusta short lilac mid green, stoloniferous


In the following table:

height--short (under 1'), medium (1-2'), tall (over 2')

bloom--early, mid or late summer

TG (Tardiana Group) 

The following are only the most commonly seen in U.S. commerce of the hundreds available. Those marked * are the most popular. Much breeding the last 2 decades has led to many hybrids (where no species is listed) and much taxonomic confusion as to true parentage.
Cultivar species size flowers bloom foliage
*'Albomarginata' fortunei medium lavender mid white-edged
'Albomarginata' undulata medium lavender mid white-edged
'Albopicta' fortunei medium pale mauve mid yellow, green margin
'Allan P. McConnell'   short light purple mid white-edged
'Antioch'   tall lavender mid wide white-edged
'Aoki'   medium pale purple mid blue-green
'Aphrodite' plantaginea medium white, double mid green
*'August Moon'   tall white mid gold
'Aureomaculata' ventricosa tall bluish purple late yellow, green margins
*'Aureomarginata' fortunei medium mauve mid yellow-edged
'Aureomarginata' montana tall lavender late wide yellow-edged
'Aureomarginata' ventricosa medium lavender late gold-edged
'Aureo-nebulosa' tokudama medium whitish mid yellow, blue margin
'Aurora Borealis'   tall whitish mid blue, yellow-edged
'Big Daddy'   large whitish mid puckered steel blue
'Birchwood Parky's Gold'   medium lavender mid gold
'Blue Angel'   large whitish mid textured blue
'Blue Boy'   medium pale lavender mid blue, spreading
'Blue Cadet'   short lavender late blue
'Blue Moon' (TG)   short whitish mid blue, round
'Blue Umbrellas'   large whitish mid blue-green, cupped
'Blue Wedgewood' (TG)   medium lavender mid metallic blue
'Bressingham Blue'   medium whitish mid blue
'Bright Glow'   medium whitish mid gold, thick
'Brim Cup'   short lavender early white-edged
'Candy Hearts'   short lavender mid green, heart shaped
'Chinese Sunrise'   medium lavender late yellow in spring
'Christmas Tree'   medium whitish mid cream-edge,puckered
'Decorata'   large purple mid white-edged
'Dorset Blue' (TG)   short whitish early blue
*'Elegans' sieboldiana tall white mid blue, thick
'Emerald Tiara'   short purple early yellow, green margin
'Erromena' undulata medium lavender mid green
'Flavo-circinalis' tokudama medium whitish early yellow-edged, blue
*'Francee'   medium lavender mid white-edge,dark green
*'Frances Williams' sieboldiana medium whitish mid beige-edged, blue
'Fringe Benefit'   tall lavender early cream-edged
*'Ginko Craig'   short purple mid white-edged
'Gold Drop'   short lavender mid gold, heart-shaped
'Gold Edger'   short lavender late gold, round
'Gold Regal'   large pale purple early gold, upright
'Gold Medallion' tokudama medium whitish mid gold
*'Gold Standard'   medium lavender mid yellow, green margin
'Golden Scepter'   short lavender mid gold
'Golden Sunburst' sieboldiana tall whitish mid gold
*'Golden Tiara'   short lavender late gold-edged
'Great Expectations'   tall whitish early yellow, bluish edge
'Green Fountain' kikutii medium lavender late green, narrow
'Green Gold'   large lavender mid creamy-edged
'Groundmaster'   medium lavender mid white-edged
'Hadspen Blue'   short near white late very blue
*'Halcyon' (TG) x tardiana medium lavender late blue
*'Honeybells'   large pale lavender early green
'Invincible'   short whitish mid shiny green
'Hyacintha' fortunei medium mauve mid blue-green
'Kabitan' sieboldiana short lavender mid yellow, green margin
*'Krossa Regal'   tall lavender late frosty blue, upright
'Lemon Lime'   short lavender mid gold
'Little Aurora'   short whitish mid metallic gold
'Love Pat'   medium near white late blue, cupped
'Lunar Eclipse'   large lavender early white-edged. gold
'Moonlight'   medium lavender late green-gold,white edge
'North Hills'   medium lavender mid white-edged
'Northern Halo' sieboldiana tall whitish mid blue, cream-edged
'Patriot'   medium lavender early wide white-edged
'Pearl Lake'   medium lavender mid blue-green
'Piedmont Gold'   medium lavender late bright gold
'Pizzazz'   tall lavender late blue, white-edged
'Platinum Tiara'   short lavender mid green-gold,white edge
'Resonance'   tall lavender mid cream-edged
*'Royal Standard'   large white late green
'Saishu Jima'   short purple late narrow, twisting
'September Sun'   medium whitish early gold, green margin
'Shade Fanfare'   medium lavender mid white-edged
'So Sweet'   medium lavender late white-edged
'Sugar and Cream'   tall whitish late white-edged
'Sum and Substance'   tall pale lavender mid gold, thick
'Sun Power'   tall lavender late gold, upright
'Sundance'   medium lavender mid cream-edged
'Vanilla Cream'   short whitish mid yellow
'Variegata' fluctuans tall lavender mid white-edged
'Vera Verde'   short lavender late white-edged
*'Wide Brim'   tall lavender mid bluish,white-edged
'Zounds'   medium whitish early gold, crinkled

(cultivar photos courtesy Missouri botanical gardens plantfinder)

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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