How to Grow Frances Williams Hosta

Frances Williams hosta leaf close-up.

The Spruce / David Beaulieu

Native to Japan, Frances Williams hosta plants are prized as foliage plants and landscape fillers. They are among the most popular hosta plants, thanks to their thick variegated leaves, which are oval-shaped and can grow to be up to a foot long. The bluish-green center on the leaves is hemmed by a jagged, greenish-gold margin.

Best planted in early spring or early fall (and before any rainy season in your area), Frances Williams hosta will grow at a moderate pace, reaching full maturity within two to four years' time—though it will look good in your landscape well before that.

Botanical Name Hosta  sieboldiana 'Frances Williams'
Common Name Frances Williams hosta, Frances Williams plantain lily
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size 1.5–2 ft. tall, 4–5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial shade, full shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White, lilac
Hardiness Zones 3–8 (USDA)
Native Area Japan
Toxicity Toxic to dogs, cats

Frances Williams Hosta Care

All hosta plants are a great choice for low-maintenance landscaping, and Frances Williams hosta should not give you too much trouble as long as you offer it the proper lighting and water care.

Remove its flower stalks after they bloom in early summer, as there's no sense in the plant using up energy on seed production. Use mulch to help retain moisture around the roots or protect the plant during the winter months—just make sure to keep the dirt away from the crown of the plant in order to minimize the chance of crown rot. If you wish to divide the plant (in the case that its growth is becoming too large, or you simply wish for more hosta), do so in the early spring once the ground is soft enough to be worked.

Light

Frances Williams hosta plants love a lot of shade and should be planted in a spot that gets at least partial—if not full—shade all day. with shade is a must. Overall, you should aim for at least six hours of shade a day. If it receives too much light, your plant's leaves will lack color or varigation.

Soil

All hosta plants do well in a soil mixture that is well-draining and rich in organic nutrients. If you find the soil in your landscape is lacking, you can mix humus into the planting bed to create a well-drained loam. You can also add organic matter to the planting bed to increase the nutrients available to your plant.

Water

Water your Frances Williams hosta deeply and regularly, providing at least an inch of water per week. If your climate is especially warm or you're experiencing drought-like conditions, you should water your plant more frequently, as often as every other day. If the plant suffers from a lack of water, it could go into drought-induced dormancy.

Temperature and Humidity

Hosta plants are perennials, meaning they need at least six weeks of temperatures below 42 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve dormancy. Once dormant, the plants can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if covered by a layer of snow. Additionally, the plant is not picky about its humidity levels.

Fertilizer

Host plants do best when fed with organic compost in the early spring and again throughout the growing season if you'd like. If you choose to use a store-bought fertilizer, choose an organic blend geared towards perennials, like a fish emulsion.

Are Frances Williams Hosta Plants Toxic?

All hosta plants are toxic to cats and dogs if ingested, so make sure to keep any curious cats or dogs away. The plant has glycoside saponins, which can cause illness if any part of the hosta is ingested, though sickness is rarely fatal. If you notice your pet exhibiting any of the below symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

Uses for Frances Williams Hosta in Landscaping

Growers use this cultivar as a ground cover for shade. More specifically, consider using it as an edging plant in a shady area or as part of a woodland garden. Some homeowners grow the plant in a mass in foundation plantings on the north side of a house.

A clever way to use hosta is as a companion plant for spring bulbs. The latter, while they furnish your landscaping with marvelous color in springtime, are notorious for looking ratty later. A well-placed hosta can hide that unsightly foliage, without interrupting the progress of those flowering bulbs that put on their showy displays in early spring.

Common Pests and Diseases

Disciplined cleaning habits in the garden will eliminate some of the hiding spots for slugs, one of the worst pests for hostas. You should make sure to cut and remove any spent foliage in the fall, and periodically look through the leaves in the spring and summer for any culprits.

Deer are also a big problem in growing hostas—the woodland creature love the leaves of the plant and will often strip the steam bare in just one evening. If you notice a serious issue with your hosta plants and deer, you can try using a deer repellent, or installing deer fencing.