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Hosta lovers will rejoice in 2017 as one of the classics receives top honors as award-winning Hosta of the Year.

Each year, the American Hosta Growers Association selects a hosta variety to showcase and market as Hosta of the Year. The plant selected must meet several criteria, including wide availability at a fair price, as well as proven growth success in a wide variety of habitats and gardening zones.

Hosta of the Year

The 2017 Hosta of the Year is the spectacular Brother Stefan. A large hosta, this plant features some of the most intense seersuckering or corrugation found on any hosta variety.

Brother Stefan grows 3 to 4 feet wide after a number of growing seasons. Like most hostas, patience is needed in order to enjoy the plant's mature characteristics. Much like people, hostas develop their character and wrinkles over time. Most garden centers sell one to two year-old plant plugs that have yet to develop the mature colors and texture of a mature specimen.

Brother Stefan has variable coloration with a generally deeper green edge over a light green or gold center. Feathering and streaking of the different shades of green reaches in toward the center of the leaf.

The wonderfully textured foliage is definitely the main attraction for this incredible hosta. Large, leathery leaves are heavily pebbled or corrugated, giving the plant a stunning look in the garden.

A versatile plant

This hosta is also tolerant of full sun, becoming brighter and brassier with more sunlight during the day. Morning sun is ideal.

Because of its extremely heavy substance, Brother Stefan is generally avoided by deer, making it even more appealing to hosta lovers.

Since it grows well in sun, the design possibilities are endless with this amazing plant. Pair Brother Stefan with hostas and other perennials in shades of blue, lime green, pink and purple. The wonderful texture makes combinations with ornamental grasses, ferns and conifers especially beautiful.

Previous Hostas of the Year

This plant is one in a long line of award winning Hostas of the Year that are available to gardeners to collect and display in their yard and landscape.

Previous award-winning plants demonstrate the wide range of hostas available for home gardeners. Long gone are the days of the old "grandmother" hostas in green and white. Today's hostas are a much different specimen. In blues, golds, many shades of green, silver and other fascinating color combinations, hostas also come in a greater variety of shapes and sizes than ever before.

Hosta growers and breeders continue to develop stunning new plants, many that do not resemble traditional hostas at all. Some of the newest hosta varieties just hitting the market are those with red stems and leaves, as well as hostas that feature bright yellow flowers. Watch for even more of these stunning plants to become available widely over the next several years.

Here are some of my favorite previous hostas of the year:

2011: Praying Hands

This hosta holds its rigid leaves upright, creating an impressive display. It is an excellent choice for container plantings, where this growth habit is especially attractive.

2008: Blue Mouse Ears

The classic miniature hosta in beautiful, rich blue, this plant is extremely versatile and fun to grow in the garden.

2005: Striptease

One of the most elegant and beautiful, Striptease features a dark green edge, with lighter center and lightning flashes of silvery white separating the two colors.

2016: Curly Fries

From last year, this fun, twisted, curling hosta features exciting foliage and versatility in the garden. Another great choice for containers.

2014: Abiqua Drinking Gourd

One of the true giants, this plant features extremely large, leathery, deeply cupped leaves in rich blue green.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors.

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