Yellow hostas shine on in the rain

Judith Adam

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‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ hosta has lance-shaped leaves that are almost entirely pale yellow, with only a sliver of green on the wavy edges. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)

After another week of bizarre weather, including extended torrential rain, flooding and power failures, the garden is feeling the impact of a punishing season. (Just ask the petunias what they think of it!) Most of the hostas are showing signs of environmental abuse, but fortunately the yellow hostas have weathered the storms quite well.

I’m fond of yellow hostas, although few of them are actually clear yellow. It’s said that hostas starting out gold in spring will become greener in summer, and others that are chartreuse in spring will mature to a golden hue. I think the position and amount of sun they receive is often the determining factor in just how yellow-gold these hostas can become during a growing season. They’re more tolerant of sunlight exposure than green hostas, and any amount of direct sun seems to enhance their foliage. Yellow hostas are good accents, especially around spring-blooming shrubs that fade to green in summer, and perennial plants with long-blooming blue flowers like agastache and salvia.

Among my four gold hostas is ‘Aspen Gold’, a thick clump of deeply cupped leaves with thick corrugated foliage that look like seersucker patterning. The cupped foliage gives it a distinctive style and the colour ranges toward deep yellow when grown in four hours of sunlight. Placing two or three dense clumps together fills lots of space and makes a bold statement. Another hosta with signature style is ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’, a low thick clump with lance-shaped leaves that are almost entirely pale yellow, with only a sliver of green on the wavy edges. The narrow leaves are puckered and deeply veined, showing the influence of both Hosta sieboldiana and H. lancifolia in its breeding. ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ starts out yellow in spring and retains its colour all summer in two or three hours of sun, however, more sunlight brings out a creamy white in the leaves. The leaves have a cascading form and are particularly attractive when used as a bed edging or beside steps or garden rocks. (My specimen is in too much light and has become quite pale, particularly when seen next to the egg-yolk yellow flowers of Corydalis lutea.)

Some of the yellow hostas have an elegant form, such as ‘August Moon’ and ‘Rosedale Golden Goose,’ with large puckered, veined leaves held horizontally, forming wide groundcovers when grown in groups. Both of these will be pale yellow in direct sun. My ‘August Moon’ grows in light shade and is bright chartreuse all season.

Of all the hostas in my garden, this small collection with yellow foliage looks the best after several weeks of abusive weather. Hostas with blue-grey (‘Krossa Regal’) have had their waxy bloom washed off by the pounding rain and now look dull green. The shiny foliage of ‘Aphrodite’ has lost its gleam and appears spotty, like a bad dishwasher rinse. Yellow may seem a delicate colour, but it turns out to be resilient in the hosta world.


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