Frances Williams Hosta Plant Profile

Landscaping Uses, Care

Frances Williams hosta leaf close-up.
David Beaulieu

Hosta plants are valued mainly as foliage plants, although some growers enjoy the trumpet-shaped flowers of Frances Williams. Most gardeners are more interested, however, in the thick, variegated leaf of the plant. It is oval-shaped and can become a foot long. The bluish-green center is hemmed in by a jagged, greenish-gold margin. The leaf is cupped and seersuckered, with showy lines as well. Do not confuse Frances Williams hosta with the similar-sounding 'Francee.' Both are variegated, but Francee's variegation is green and white.

Botanical Name Hosta sieboldiana 'Frances Williams'
Common Name Frances Williams hosta, Frances Williams plantain lily
Plant Type Herbaceous, with a perennial life cycle
Mature Size 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet in height, with a spread about twice that
Sun Exposure Partial shade to full shade
Soil Type Evenly moist and well-drained, with average fertility
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic
Bloom Time Early summer
Flower Color White, with a hint of lilac
Hardiness Zones 3 to 8
Native Area Japan

How to Grow Frances Williams Hosta

This is a fine plant choice for low-maintenance landscaping. Frances Williams hosta should not give you too much trouble if you keep three care tips in mind:

  • This plant does not simply tolerate shade, it positively needs it.
  • Be sure to furnish with adequate water during periods of drought.
  • Be on guard for pest problems.

Regarding the shade requirement, note that this is a classic hosta in that it truly is a shade plant, as is generally the case with green-leaved kinds. But there are types of hosta that want a little more sunlight in order to achieve optimal color: most notably, the golden-leaved kinds. Not Frances Williams, though: Its color suffers from excessive sunlight.

Remove its flower stalks after blooming, as there is no sense in the plant's using up energy on seed production. Any mulch that you apply (whether for winter protection or to retain moisture, etc. during the growing season) should be kept away from the crown to minimize the chance of crown rot. Divide the plant in spring if its growth seems to be petering out or if you simply want more hosta.

Disciplined cleaning habits in the garden will eliminate some of the hiding spots for slugs, one of the worst pests for hostas. For example, cut and remove spent foliage in autumn.

Deer are also a big problem in growing hostas. To address it, there are options ranging from deer repellents to deer fencing.

As if these pest problems were not bad enough, hosta, according to the ASPCA, is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. On the plus side, this is a plant that brings hummingbirds to your landscaping.

Light

Providing Frances Williams hosta with shade is a must. Give it partial shade at the very least.

Soil

Mix humus into the planting bed to create a well-drained loam.

Water

Keep the soil of Frances Williams hosta evenly moist.

Fertilizer

Fertilize it each spring with compost.

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: The latter emerge from the ground and come into bloom before the tardy hosta puts on enough growth to get in the way.

Other Types of Hosta

Besides variegated hostas like Frances Williams, 'Patriot' (a Francee relative), and many more, there are green, golden, and blue types, such as:

  • Hosta clausa var. normalis: dark green; 1 foot x 1 foot; zones 3 to 8; partial shade to full shade
  • Hosta 'Fire Island': golden; 12 inches tall and 28 inches wide; zones 3 to 9; partial shade
  • Hosta 'Halcyon': blue; 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide; zones 3 to 8; partial shade or full shade