For well over a century, plants in the Hosta genus have been a mainstay of shady gardens. Although the flowers are generally unremarkable, this plant comes in hundreds of species and cultivars with a remarkably diverse array of leaf colors and sizes. The plentitude of green hues and leaf textures allow some landscapes to fill enormous shade gardens with nothing but a selection of hostas. And no single hosta is more popular than the 'Halcyon' cultivar.
Hosta 'Halcyon' is cultivar in the Tardiana group, which include 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 leaves. The 'Halcyon' cultivar is one of the best and most popular of this group. It is an erect plant growing to about 14 inches tall with heavily textured blue-green leaves with a spear shape. The texture of the leaves resembles that of seersucker fabric. Unlike some other blue-leaved plants, this one retains its color well without fading in the heat of summer. 'Halcyon' sends up pale purple-blue flowers on 26-inch stems in late summer. This plant won the Distinguished Merit Award from the American Hosta Society in 1987.
This is a very slow-growing hosta that can take several years to assume its mature shape and size. But once established, 'Halcyon' is dependable and requires almost no care.
|Botanical Name||Hosta 'Halcyon'|
|Common Name||Halcyon hosta, plaintain lily|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||12 to 24 inches|
|Sun Exposure||Part shade to full shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, moist, well-draining soil|
|Soil pH||Neutral; 6.5 to 7.5|
|Bloom Time||Late summer|
|Flower Color||Pale blue-purple|
|Hardiness Zones||3 to 9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Cultivated hybrid; parent species are from northeast Asia|
How to Grow 'Halcyon' Hostas
Like other hostas, 'Halcyon' will thrive in just about any moist, well-drained soil in a part shade to full-shade location. 'Halcyon' is great for any woodland garden, but it is also low enough to serve as an edging plant. Plants with silver leaves, such as spotted deadnettle, look particularly good planted next to the bluish leaves of 'Halcyon'.
The sunnier the location, the more water this plant will need, but unlike some of the yellow-leaved hostas, this is not a plant that will tolerate more than a few hours of direct sunlight each day. If planted under trees, they will need more watering to compensate for the moisture absorbed by tree roots.
Because hosta flowers are not very showy, many gardeners clip off the flower stalks as they appear. But the flowers on hostas are very attractive to bees 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 clipped back.
Hostas do not require division, unless you want to do so for propagation. When the foliage dies back in the fall, remove it to keep the ground clean for the following spring and to reemove hiding places for slugs and small rodents.
Hostas as a group prefer part shade to full shade locatoions. The 'Halcyon' cultivar is one that shows its best side in shadier conditions, as the blue color can appear somewhat washed out in too much light.
All hostas prefer relatively cool, moist but well-drained soil. They do best in a neutral soil, but will tolerate somewhat acidic soil.
Hostas prefer consistent moisture, but will tolerate somewhat dry soil better than constantly wet soil.
Temperature and Humidity
Hostas do quite well in the climate conditions found throughout its hardiness zone. They may wilt in very warm temperatures unless frequently watered, and high humidity sometimes encourages snails and slugs. These plants are sensitive to cold, and will succumb for the season at the first light 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) in order 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. Plants in dry, poor soils will benefit from diluted liquid fertilizer applied over the plants every 4 to 6 weeks.
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 when you truly want to propagate, as division is not necessary for the health of the plant. The root clumps on hostas are very tough, and division can be a hard job. The best method is often to use a sharpened spade to first slice down through the root clumps before digging up the pieces.
There are few serious pest and disease problems with hostas, but those that do occur can be something of a plague: Snails and slugs will often chew ragged holes in the leaves. 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 nails. These plants can also be prone to deer feeding on them.