How to Grow White Feather Plaintain Lily (Hosta)

White feather plantain lily with white and green veined leaves clumped together

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

A perfect addition to any shade garden, the white feather plantain lily is a herbaceous perennial plant primarily grown for its unique foliage and decorative potential. Its leaves are whiteish when opening and they look almost like lilies. Then over the following weeks, the leaves typically transform into green-white. Since these plants lack chlorophyll, they grow slowly and, in many cases, will barely achieve full growth.

In mid-summer, fragrant and funnel-shaped lavender flowers bloom above the foliage. They make an excellent option for brightening up shaded gardens, as well as for planting in containers. The best time of year to plant it is in early spring or early fall after the summer heat. You can expect a magical color transformation in the summer months, when green pigment first becomes visible on the plant's white leaves. Be aware that all hostas, including the white feather hosta, are mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Common Name White feather hosta, plantain lily
Botanical Name Hosta 'White Feather'
Family Asparagaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 12-20 in. tall, 20-24 in. wide
Sun Exposure Partial, shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, alkaline (6.5 to 7.5)
Bloom Time Mid-summer
Flower Color Lavender
Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA)
Native Area Northeast Asia
Toxicity Toxic to cats, dogs, and horses

White Feather Plantain Lily Care

These plants are relatively easy to grow and require minimal care and maintenance. They need to be planted in full shade with moist soil.

White feather plantain lily with large white leaves with green veins from above

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White feather plantation lily leaves with white and green coloring

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White feather plantation lily with large white leaves and deep green veins in shade

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

White feather plantain lily with white and green veined leaves clumped together closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault


These plants cannot tolerate direct sunlight and will grow best in full shade. It would help if you protected the white feather plantain lily from the sun to prevent its thin, light-colored leaves from scorching.


Most plantain lily plants require more water than an average plant. Make sure you do not drown the soil but keep it moist for optimal growth.


When planting your white feather plantain lily, choose a well-drained, humus-rich garden soil. They will grow best in slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soil.

Temperature and Humidity

You must always shelter these shade-loving plants from cold, dry winds. They are warm-weather plants that will not survive long after the first frost of the season.


When planting a white feather plantain lily, gardeners will have to take additional steps to enrich the soil with organic manure adequately. Proper fertilization will help boost the soil's capacity to retain water and improve soil nutrition—both crucial for successfully growing these plants.

Types of White Feather Plantain Lilies


The white feather plantain lily can be pruned in a few different ways. You can deadhead them by using sharp shears to cut the flower stalks near the plant base, or they can be cut back after the first frost. You can also prune these plants to help deal with any damage done by pests.

Remove any leaves that have already been eaten by slugs, rabbits, or any other insects or animals in the garden.

Propagating White Feather Plantain Lilies

A white feather plantain lily can typically be propagated very easily, although it can be challenging to divide its tough root clumps. Divide the plants in early spring or fall by digging up the root ball and dividing it into small clumps of roots and leaves before replanting.

How to Grow White Feather Plantain Lilies From Seed

Growing white feather plantain lilies from seed are much like any other perennial. They need warmth (at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and moisture until the seedlings sprout. A peat-based planting substrate that is well-draining works best.

Plantain lilies also need air around their root structures. Plantain lily seeds do not need light to germinate, so a planting depth of 1/4 inch works well. Plantain lilies germinate within 7 to 14 days. If kept at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, they might even sprout within three days.

After six to eight weeks, you can transplant the white feather plantain lily outdoors.

Potting and Repotting White Feather Plantain Lilies

Since you need to keep these plants in shady areas, many gardeners will plant their white feather plantain lilies in a large pot or container. In containers, you can easily move the plant around to protect leaves from the scorching sun. Choose a plastic or resin pot with lots of drainage holes. Regular potting soil is fine for any hosta, and thirsty hostas like it moist, but not soggy.


In the winter, plantain lily plants naturally die back to enter dormancy. The leaves will wither, and the plant will appear dead. You can also help the process by cutting back the plantain lily leaves to the ground after the first frost. It may seem like a drastic move, but don’t worry; you will have beautiful plants again in the spring. Get rid of dead foliage, which also tends to shelter viruses and other pathogens. 

Common Pests

Unfortunately, the thin white feather plantain lily leaves are a delicacy for slugs and snails (as well as rabbits and deer). You may have to employ protective measures, including plastic bird netting, spraying, or slug baits.

Common Problems With White Feather Plantain Lilies

Hostas are usually not much trouble to grow, but white feather hostas require a bit more care due to their somewhat delicate leaves. Be on the lookout for these issues:

Brown Leaves

Browning on the outside edges of the leaves, a dull color, or faded spots on the leaves means that the hosta is getting too much sun. It's best to move the plant out of the sun.

Wilting Plant 

When it's too dry, the white feather hosta's leaves will wilt, but they will not die right away. Give the hosta a drink, but don't drown it or root rot will develop.

  • Do white feather hostas stay white?

    The white feather hosta emerges white in the springtime. During the summer, sometimes the leaves turn greenish-white or develop green stripes. This is completely normal for the white feather hosta.

  • How big do white feather hostas get?

    These hostas are not large plants, and they won't grow enormous like some types. The white feather hosta will grow only around 2 feet tall and equally as wide.

  • What's a sun-loving alternative to the white feather plantain lily?

    If you love the pale coloration of the plantain lily but have a sunny lawn, you might enjoy lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina). Its soft, fuzzy foliage is a light silvery-white, and unlike the white feather lily, lamb's ear will thrive in full sun.

  • Can I grow white feather plantain lilies indoors?

    Though traditionally grown outside, any kind of hosta (including the white feather lily) can thrive as a houseplant if it is given an annual dormant period in chilled temperatures.

  • Does the white feather plantain lily have flowers?

    While this plant can produce flowers in late summer, most people cut the stems before blooming to encourage more vigorous growth of the beautiful foliage for which the lily is famous.

Article Sources
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  1. Hostas. ASPCA.