For well over a century, colorful plants in the Hosta genus have been a mainstay of shady gardens. The slow-growing Hosta 'Halcyon' cultivar is one of the best and most popular in its group known for blue leaves. The halcyon hosta is an erect plant growing to about 14 inches tall with heavily textured, heart-shaped blue-green leaves. The waxy texture of the leaves resembles that of seersucker fabric. Unlike some other plants with blue or blueish-green foliage, this one retains its color well without fading in the heat of summer thanks to the waxy coating. Halcyon sends up pale lilac-blue flowers on 26-inch stalks in mid- to late-summer. Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to its blooms.
Plant fast-growing hostas in the early spring or early fall, but not when it's too hot outside. Be aware that all hostas, including the halcyon hosta, are mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
|Common Name||Halcyon hosta, plantain lily|
|Botanical Name||Hosta 'Halcyon'|
|Mature Size||14-18 in. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Partial shade|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-draining|
|Flower Color||Pale lilac-blue|
|Hardiness Zones||3-8 (USDA)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses|
Halcyon Hosta Care
Like other hostas, halcyons will thrive in moist, well-drained soil in a partial shade to full-shade location. Halcyon hostas are great for any woodland garden, and because they are low-growing, they can also serve as edging plants. Plants with silver leaves, such as spotted deadnettle, look particularly good planted next to the bluish leaves of a halcyon hosta.
If planted in partial sun, halcyon will need extra water. Unlike some of the yellow-leaved hostas, Halcyon cannot tolerate more than a few hours of direct sunlight each day. If planted under trees, they require more water to compensate for the moisture absorbed by surrounding tree roots.
Hostas usually do not require division unless you want to propagate more plants. When the foliage dies back in the fall, remove the spent foliage to keep the garden clean for the following spring and to remove hiding places for slugs and small rodents.
Hostas as a group prefer to be planted in partial shade to full shade. Halcyon hostas grow best in shadier conditions because their bluish-green foliage can appear somewhat washed out if they receive too much direct sunlight
All hostas prefer relatively cool, moist but well-drained soil. They do best in neutral soil (soil pH 7.0) but will tolerate slightly acidic soil (pH about 6.5).
Hostas prefer consistent moisture but will tolerate somewhat dry soil better than constantly wet soil.
Temperature and Humidity
Hostas do quite well in the climates in their hardiness zone. They might wilt in very warm temperatures unless frequently watered, and high humidity sometimes encourages snails and slugs.
Hostas are sensitive to cold and will succumb to the first frost. They do not emerge in the spring until the soil has warmed considerably. Hostas require a moderate amount of winter chilling (temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a few weeks) to thrive and thus are not suitable for very warm climates.
Hostas generally don't require much, if any, feeding, especially if they are growing in good, rich soil. Hostas that are planted in dry, poor soils will benefit from diluted liquid fertilizer applied over the plants every four to six weeks.
Types of Halcyon Hosta
Hosta 'Halcyon' is a cultivar in the Tardiana group, which includes cultivars of a parent hybrid developed by crossing H. tardiflora with H. sieboldiana var. elegans. Plants in this group are generally large-leaved cultivars with blue-green or grayish-blue leaves. There are many blue-hued cultivars in addition to 'Halcyon' and here are more three popular choices:
- 'Blue Moon' features bluish-green, heart-shaped leaves and white flowers that come out in late summer.
- 'First Frost', an award-winner with the American Hosta Grower's Association, offers leaves with striking blue centers in the spring that turn dark green with creamy yellow margins.
- 'June' is another award-winner with the American Hosta Grower's Association; pointed gold leaves are bordered with blue and green shaded margins.
Because hosta flowers are not very showy, many gardeners remove the flower stalks. But hosta blooms are very attractive to bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, so environmentally-minded gardeners are increasingly leaving the flowers in place until they have faded completely, at which time the dried stalks can be cut down to their base.
Propagating Halcyon Hosta
Hostas are easily propagated by digging up and dividing the root clumps into halves or quarters. This is best done in early spring or late summer, but most hostas will survive division at almost any time. Because halcyon is slow-growing, it's best to limit division for times when you truly want to propagate the plant because division is not necessary for the health of the plant.
Hosta roots are very tough, and division can be difficult, especially if the soil is very wet. The best method is to use a sharpened spade to first slice down through the middle of the plant before digging it up in pieces.
How to Grow Halcyon Hosta from Seed
Though it is possible to grow halcyon hostas from seed, the germination rate is extremely low and the success rate for seedlings is very poor. Therefore, most choose to propagate hostas through division, which is a much more reliable method.
Potting and Repotting Halcyon Hosta
Many hostas can be planted in containers, and the halcyon hosta is no exception. Make sure the pot has good drainage, use good-quality potting soil, and place the container in dappled or indirect sunlight. Choose a decorative plastic or terracotta pot, and make sure the depth of the pot is less than the width; all hostas love to spread out their roots, and a shallow but wide planting vessel will help them achieve that.
Protect container-grown hostas to ensure they survive the winter by sheltering them in a south-facing location against the house or an unheated garage. Hostas grown in the ground can be left where they are, covered with mulch to help protect them during extremely cold temperatures. Remove the mulch when temperatures warm up in the spring.
Few serious pest and disease problems affect hostas, but those that do occur can be something of a plague: snails and slugs will often chew ragged holes in the foliage. This is disfiguring and unattractive, but it rarely kills a plant. These pests can be baited to collect them for removal. Keeping the ground free of thick mulches can also discourage slugs and snails. Hosta is not deer resistant, and the foliage is quite a favorite meal for them.
Common Problems With 'Halcyon' Hosta
It's difficult to stop just about any hosta from growing back every year. But, even the hardiest of hostas can see a few problems, especially if you have deer or rabbits in your area. Be on the lookout for these signs and learn what they mean.
Ragged/Jagged Leaf Edges
Clean, completely clipped-off hosta leaves, dropped leaves on the ground, and jagged bite marks around the edges of the leaves mean you have rabbits and deer grazing your plants.
Brittle, brown leaves can mean the plant is feeling heat stress or it's getting too much direct sun that's scorching the leaves.
Brown Spots on Leaves
After warm, wet conditions, you may see odd-shaped white or tan spots with brown borders on the leaves. This typically means that the plant is suffering from anthracnose, a fungal disease. The leaves become tattered. Remove damaged leaves and divide plants to give them better air circulation.
Yellow Streaks on Leaves
If you spot yellow or brown stripes or streaks on hosta leaves, especially in June, it may mean nematodes (microscopic roundworms) are feeding inside the leaves. You will need to remove and place the affected plants in the garbage. It may be difficult to treat this problem with pesticides.
Leaves Aren't Blue-Green
If your halcyon hosta isn't as blue-green as you'd hoped, it could be that the plant is getting too much sun. The blue tint seems to fade faster in brighter sun. Blue hostas have a waxy coating on the leaves that stay bluer longer if the plant is well-hydrated and not scorched. However, too much watering, such as heavy summer rains, can make the blue waxy coating degrade quickly.
How long do halcyon hostas live?
With the right care, most hostas can live up to 30 years or more.
Can I grow halcyon hostas indoors?
Hostas are typically not grown indoors. While these make great outdoor container plants, they love to spread their roots, so expect to move up to a larger pot regularly. Eventually, you'll need to consider dividing your hosta to save space and moving the divisions outdoors.
Where should I put halcyon hostas in my house?
Although they are not typically grown indoors, if you choose to grow hostas indoors, perhaps if you're lucky enough to have a greenhouse, position the plant so that it receives dappled sunlight. Never allow the hosta to sit in full sunlight.
What is the bluest hosta?
Hosta 'Halcyon', 'Blue Cadet', and 'Blueberry Muffin' are the most popular and bluest hosta cultivars.
How big does a halcyon hosta get?
A halcyon hosta is somewhat compact. It can grow 18 inches tall and 36 inches wide.
Is the halcyon hosta sun-tolerant?
It can take up to four hours of direct sun a day, but only if its soil is kept moist.
Hosta Leaf Nematodes. Missouri Botanical Garden.