Francee Hosta: Growing Tips for a White-Margined Favorite

Ground Cover for Full Shade

Leaves of Francee hosta
Francee hosta has variegated leaves. David Beaulieu

The botanical name is straightforward: Hosta 'Francee.'  The former is the genus name, while 'Francee' is the cultivar name. Most gardeners flip the two words to form the common name (I do not italicize or capitalize "hosta" when using it as a common name). The plant is an herbaceous perennial.

Characteristics of Francee Hosta

This hosta matures to 1-2 feet tall, with a slightly greater spread. Francee bears light lavender flowers during the summertime, but it is as a foliage plant that it has bragging rights. The leaves of this variegated plant have white margins with green centers and can attain a length of 8 inches.

Like most kinds of hosta, another part of Francee's allure is in its texture. I explain what "texture" means in the context of the world of hostas in my article on a blue-leaved type, H. 'Halcyon.'

Optimal Growing Conditions:

Hostas are known for their cold-hardiness, and this type is no exception. Its growing zones are listed as 3 to 9. Install it in a location where it will receive partial to full shade and where the soil drains well. The further north in its range you are, the more sunlight it can stand. While not overly demanding in terms of soil fertility, the plant is most likely to thrive in soils rich in humus. Regarding watering, Allan Armitage provides advice that all of us who have grown hostas can relate to, saying, "Keep plants consistently moist, or leaf margins become brown"  (Armitage's Garden Perennials, Page 167).

More Care Tips, Including Pest Control:

Spring and fall are both considered good times to divide this perennial, although more people find it easier to perform this job in spring. Unhappily, watering and dividing are minor care tasks compared to the hosta care that gardeners dread the most: namely, pest control. Creatures great and small esteem it as a gourmet salad green, and most of the hours of care you put into your hosta plants will consist in trying to outwit these pests.

A small pest that delights in devouring hosta in my region (New England) is the slug (depending on where you live, you may have to do battle with a similar garden pest: snails). Don't underestimate the severity of the damage that these lowly pests can cause. I discuss some ways to kill slugs in my review of a book written on that subject.

A great pest (great in size, that is) that presents a problem for hosta growers is the deer. You can try fencing deer out or driving them away with repellents, but if you have a really bad deer problem in your area, you may find it best to take the path of least resistance and simply grow deer-resistant plants, instead.

Uses in Landscaping:

Given its preferred growing conditions (see above), Francee is, of course, a natural for shade gardens. But more specifically, I recommend it:

  1. As a ground cover
  2. As an edging plant (for use along shady paths, for example)
  3. For woodland gardens

The Parentage and Offspring of Francee Hosta

Hosta 'Francee' is part of a proud line of hostas. Francee came from H. 'Fortunei Albomarginata' as a sport (the name, Albomarginata bespeaks the characteristic white leaf margins of this line of hostas). Francee, in turn, also produced a sport that has become a favorite with growers: H. 'Patriot.'