Even though hostas have been grown in the West since the end of the 18th century, interest in smaller varieties is relatively recent. In “The Book of Little Hostas”, Kathy and Michael Shadrack pinpoint the introduction of h. ‘Pandora’s Box’ in 1996 as the defining moment that kindled that interest (Shadrack and Shadrack, 2010, p. 13). Since then, smaller hostas have enjoyed increasing popularity and new varieties are being offered on the market each year.
The American Hosta Society (“AHS”) defines a miniature (“mini”) hosta as a hosta with a leaf blade area at maturity no greater than about 6 square inches (39 sq. cm.). The length of the petiole (leaf stem) is disregarded and there is no restriction on clump height and width (Pollock).
Mini hostas are not only cute but also extremely versatile, with uses ranging from garden borders to rock gardens to containers. In this post I would like to focus on mini hostas in containers, which is my favorite way to display them. I use them in combination with other hosta varieties or with foliage plants such as heucheras and ferns. I also like experimenting with various container shapes and colors and natural materials such as rocks and moss for additional interest.
The right container will highlight the uniqueness of mini hostas, including their color, shape and size. It will also bring them closer to the eye level where their beauty would be easier to appreciate. A shallow, wide flower pot is an excellent choice for an effective display of an assortment of minis. The yellow shiny leaves of h. ‘Cracker Crumbs’ in the container above contrasts beautifully with the green foliage of the other two plants; h. ‘Teaspoon’ provides some height and highlights the size of h. ‘Tears of Joy’, which is tiny even by mini hosta standards. For additional interest, I used owl statuettes, rocks collected from the beach and moss from my yard.
Another way to display miniature hostas in containers is in combination with larger hosta varieties and other foliage plants. The orange color of the heuchera in the container above contrasts beautifully with the green and white of the larger hosta ‘Mediovariegata’. Miniature hostas ‘Pure Heart’ and ‘Golden Needles’ and moss complete the look.
Hosta ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is not a miniature hosta by the standards of the American Hosta Society, but a small enough variety to be an excellent choice for container planting. Shown above are two ways to display it – solo in a pot of contrasting color or in combination with other shade-loving perennials, including heuchera, fern and ornamental grass.
Clockwise starting form the top of the first version of the container: the larger h. ‘Snake Eyes’, h. ‘Mini Skirt’, h. ‘Tears of Joy’, h. ‘Allan P. McConnel’, h. ‘Golden Needles’.
Shown above is a container arrangement with assorted hostas when first planted (left) compared to what it looked like a few weeks later after the plants grew (right). Notice the modifications to the arrangement. As the larger h. ‘Snake Eyes’ grew, I removed two of the four mini hostas from the container and replaced them with larger rocks. As you can see, your container does not have to stay the same throughout the season – do not be afraid to experiment and modify, if necessary.
An interesting and uncommon way of displaying small and miniature hostas is in a strawberry pot. The container above was inspired by Carolyn Walker at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens whose blog I love and highly recommend. (You can see Carolyn’s strawberry pot here: https://carolynsshadegardens.com/2012/05/10/hosta-containers-and-companions/). It was my first attempt at displaying minis in containers and still one of my favorite.
I plant my pots each spring and dismantle them in the fall when I move the plants to the garden. This is the easiest way to overwinter hostas grown in container, although there are other methods such as storing your pots in an unheated garage or leaning them on their side in a protected area and covering them heavily with mulch until spring.
The small rock garden above was created using the plants from the strawberry pot with the addition of a few other minis, bleeding heart ‘King of Hearts’ and some rocks. You can see a comparison of this garden when first planted (left) versus a few years later when it was freshly redone (right).
I hope this post has given you some ideas and has convinced you that using mini hostas in containers is easy and fun.
Pollock, Warren. “What’s a Mini Hosta? Upgrade, Critique & Where to Next?” The Online Hosta Journal, Vol. 41, Fall 2010, http://www.americanhostasociety.org/Publications/41/Contents.htm
Shadrack, Kathy Guest, and Michael Shadrack. The Book of Mini Hostas. Timber Press, Inc. 2010.