Hostas in pots

Rob Zimmer
Hostas make surprisingly good container plants, either single specimen pots, or in combination with annuals, perennials and grasses.

Hostas are the number one selling perennial in the United States, with good reason. Their versatility in the garden, easy to grow habit and stunning beauty make them garden staples everywhere. 

Gardeners searching for new ways to grow hostas have been rewarded with a huge crop of newer varieties that are compact, colorful, deer and rabbit resistant, and perfect for containers.

Perennials, hostas, in particular, have become more and more accessible as garden container plants. Plant hybridizers and breeders are creating dozens of new varieties of dwarf, compact plants perfect for those gardening on patios, porches, apartments and small spaces.

The first question I am often asked is what to do with these plants over winter. There are several options available.

If you have access to an unheated outbuilding, shed or garage, simply placing the entire container inside is one of the best ways to overwinter perennials in containers. Once the coldest part of winter has passed, usually by late February or early March, the container can be placed back outside and you can begin to water. 

You can even use hostas in hanging baskets for a unique garden conversation piece.

Another option for overwintering container hostas is to simply remove the plant from the container and trench in the garden temporarily over the winter months. Dig up in the spring and return to its container home.

Some gardeners treat container perennials as annuals and simply let them brave the elements. If they survive, wonderful. If not, a new collection is obtained the following year.

With so many new hostas on the marketplace, shopping for container varieties is fun and enjoyable. Many new hostas do not even closely resemble the hostas many of us grew up with. The newer plants are frilly, colorful, twisted, elongated, looking almost like tropical plants. Many of these have an upright growth habit or form, making them wonderful selections for containers.

Some of my favorite hosta varieties for growing in containers are Praying Hands, Electrocution, Curly Fries, Rhino Hide, Krossa Regal, Regal Splendor, Blue Mouse Ears, Rainforest Sunrise, Guardian Angel, June and Whee. 

Most of these will take even full sun, making them even more flexible as container garden plants.

As in any gardening combination, use hostas and plants with contrasting colors, textures and bloom styles for added beauty and texture in the garden.

Hostas of all sizes make excellent container plants. Some of the truly huge varieties will obviously need a larger container.

Miniature hostas make excellent choices for container fairy gardens or miniature gardens where they provide beautiful color, texture and form.

Growing hostas in containers is an exciting and interesting way to display a collection. Whether you grow single variety pots or mix and match hostas with annuals, perennials and grasses, you'll enjoy exploring a whole new way to garden.

Find Rob Zimmer online at On Facebook at Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer, Saturday mornings, 7-8 AM, on WHBY.