12 Colorful Hosta Types for Your Garden

Varieties of colorful hosta plants in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Part of the Asparagaceae family, Hosta is a large genus comprising more than 70 species as well as hundreds of hybrids and cultivars. With rare exception, these herbaceous shade-loving perennials are grown for their foliage, not their flowers, yet hostas still offer surprisingly diverse color. The leaves can be blue, yellow, or green. Sometimes, one will find a pleasing blend, such as when there's just enough yellow and green to form chartreuse. In addition to all this variety in color, these stars of the foliage world are often variegated.

Most people know hostas as shade-loving plants, and, indeed, they serve this purpose admirably. Hostas can be excellent ground-cover plants for large expanses of shady garden territory, blanketing the earth with soft color while blocking out weeds. Few plants are easier to care for, though they can be susceptible to leaf damage from snails and slugs. Once established, hostas are incredibly easy to propagate by dividing the root clumps in spring or fall.

Here are 12 excellent hosta types that run the gamut of foliage color.

Gardening Tip

Hostas are renowned for being easy to grow, but they live up to that reputation only if they get enough water and are planted in well-drained soil. Plus, they require more feeding than you might expect for a plant that isn't grown for its flowers. The American Hosta Society recommends a 10-10-10 (NPK) fertilizer, applied three or four times a year.

  • 01 of 12

    Plantagenia (Hosta plantaginea)

    Plantagenia hostas with green leaves and white flowers

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  

    While hostas in general are grown for their foliage rather than blooms, an exception is Hosta plantaginea. This species is considered one of the better-flowering hostas, bearing highly fragrant, unusually large white flowers in late summer if the plant is given sufficient sunlight. The rest of the year, plantaginea forms a dense ground cover, spreading out as much as 2 feet, with glossy, heart-shaped leaves that are medium-green in color. Like most hostas, this is easy to care for, but it spreads faster than some other cultivars, requiring division every few years.

    • Native Area: China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 12–18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade; tolerates more sun than most hostas
  • 02 of 12

    'Ground Sulphur' (Hosta 'Ground Sulpher')

    'Ground Sulphur' hosta with bright green leaves

    Missouri Botanical Garden

    In addition to the familiar green hostas, you'll find many yellow-leaved ones, ranging in color from chartreuse to pure gold. One of the better varieties is 'Ground Sulphur,' a low-growing plant with a spread slightly wider than 1 foot. Because it grows low, damage from slugs and snails may be more evident than with larger varieties. The heart-shaped, sulfur-yellow leaves form a flat, spreading mound, and lavender flowers bloom in the summer. This hybrid makes a good edging plant. Yellow-leaved hostas, in general, need more sunlight than the green or blue varieties in order to display their best color.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growng Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 6–9 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 03 of 12

    'Fire Island' (Hosta 'Fire Island')

    'Fire Island' hosta with golden leaves
    David Beaulieu

    'Fire Island' has brilliant yellow leaves that gradually fade to a more chartreuse color as summer progresses. In mature plants, the leaves are rippled and corrugated. Unlike most yellow hostas, this cultivar doesn't tolerate much direct sun. It'll achieve its best color if direct sun is limited to the morning hours, enjoying shade the rest of the day. Lavender blooms appear in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–8
    • Height: 10–15 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade; prefers some direct morning sun
  • 04 of 12

    'Sum and Substance' (Hosta 'Sum and Substance')

    'Sum and Substance' hosta with green leaves

    Missouri Plant Finder

    'Sum and Substance' is quite a large plant, sometimes approaching 3 feet in height and 5 feet in spread. Its very large, heart-shaped yellow-to-golden leaves are glossy and have deep texture. This is a typical golden hosta that needs a fair amount of sun to bring out its best color. Fragrant bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer atop 38-inch stalks. This multiple prize winner is among the best of the yellow hosta types.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growng Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 2–3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
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  • 05 of 12

    'Golden Tiara' (Hosta 'Golden Tiara')

    'Golden Tiara' hosta with green-and-yellow leaves

    ZoomTravels / Getty Images

    Featuring wide heart-shaped leaves with irregular golden-yellow margins, ‘Golden Tiara’ is a medium-sized plant that forms a spreading mound up to 38 inches wide. In late summer, the plant blooms with funnel-shaped purple flowers on 25-inch stalks. 'Golden Tiara' has a reputation for tolerating dry soils better than most hostas.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 1–2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 06 of 12

    'Blue Moon' (Hosta [Tardiana Group] 'Blue Moon')

    'Blue Moon' hosta with bluish-green leaves

    Missouri Plant Finder

    The Tardiana group of hostas is derived from a cross between H. tardiflora and H. sieboldiana 'Elegans.' These cultivars all have blue leaves and grow best in near-full shade. A small plant, 'Blue Moon' features bluish-green, heart-shaped leaves and white flowers that come out in late summer.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 6–9 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade; tolerates partial shade
  • 07 of 12

    'Halcyon' (Hosta 'Halcyon')

    Halcyon hosta plant with blue-green leaves closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    'Halcyon' is another cultivar in the Tardiana group, like 'Blue Moon,' but it's a slightly bigger plant, growing as tall as 24 inches with a similar spread. The broad spear-shaped leaves are heavily textured. This plant retains its cool blue hue well into the heat of late summer, much better than most blue-leaved hostas do. Lavender or lilac-blue flowers appear in late summer.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 18–24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 08 of 12

    'Elegans' (Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’)

    'Elegans' hosta with green leaves and pale purple flowers

     

    SvetlanaKlaise / Getty Images

    'Elegans' is a large, broad plant, growing as wide as 4 feet in spread. The large, heart-shaped leaves are glossy and heavily textured, featuring a green or blue-green color. Funnel-shaped white flowers with a bluish tinge appear on 36-inch stems in late spring to early summer. This plant grows slowly and may take several years to reach its adult size and shape.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 2–3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    'Minute Man' (Hosta 'Minute Man')

    'Minute Man' hosta with white-rimmed green leaves
    David Beaulieu

    Regarded as one of the best white-margined hostas, 'Minute Man' has large oval leaves with a thick texture and slightly wavy edges. Large pale-lavender flowers appear on 24-inch stalks in early to midsummer. This is an especially fast-growing plant, allowing for division and propagation almost every year.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 1–2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 10 of 12

    'Undulata Variegata' (Hosta 'Undulata Variegata')

    Hosta undulata
    Elena Peremet / Getty Images

    Any number of hosta cultivars can carry the terms "undulata" or "variegata" in their names. The former refers to a plant with leaves that have wavy or rippled edges, while the latter indicates leaves that are bicolor, with a central color surrounded by a contrasting margin. Variegated hostas are usually green with white or yellow margins. The foliage is termed "medio variegated" when the lighter color (white, light green, or yellow) occurs in the center of the leaf. For example, 'Undulata Variegata' is white in the middle with green at the edges. These plants produce lavender blooms in early summer.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 1–2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 11 of 12

    'Patriot' (Hosta 'Patriot')

    'Patriot' hosta with green leaves edged in white
    David Beaulieu

    Another good variegated hosta is 'Patriot', which sends up its lavender blooms slightly later than 'Undulata Variegata.' This cultivar is a "sport," a genetic mutation of another popular hosta, H. 'Francee.' 'Patriot' can spread as much as 30 inches, and the lavender bell-shaped flowers appear in summer on 34-inch stalks that rise above the leaf clumps.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 12–20 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • 12 of 12

    'Frances Williams' (Hosta sieboldiani 'Frances Williams')

    'Frances Williams' hosta with blue-green leaves featuring greenish-yellow margins

     

    James Guilliam​ / Getty Images

    'Frances Williams' is one of the most popular hostas of all time — and for good reason. This large variegated hosta has huge (12-inch) heart-shaped leaves with a puckered texture and prominent veins. The leaves are predominately blue-green with irregular greenish-yellow margins, which lighten to a creamy white with age. This hosta type is very easy to grow, spreading as much as 5 feet over time.

    • Native Area: Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 2–3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade