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Miniature hostas in alpine gardening

May 30, 2019
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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words miniature hostas ? Probably not alpines and alpine gardening!

Hostas come in all shapes and sizes and there is a wide range of miniature hosta varieties perfectly suited for trough and pot culture. Their increased popularity is easily seen in the large number of cultivars available. There is even one National Collection of small and miniature hostas, comprising of over 130 taxa.

A good plant to start with is the readily available Hosta venusta. This Korean species is the smallest in the world. Over the years, it has been used extensively to create new dwarf varieties small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Hosta ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’, ‘Elsley Runner’ and ‘Tears of Joy’ are also ones to look out for as well. 

A few years ago, H. ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ was popular when it came to dwarf specimens. Nowadays, there is a whole range derived from it, all included in the ‘Mouse’ family: ‘Holy Mouse Ears’, ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’, ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Smiling Mouse’!

How to grow

In the garden, hostas prefer to grow in shade in compost rich in organic matter. As a result they grow best in pots and containers, away from the competition of more vigorous plants.

They will associate well with clump-forming dwarf ferns like Ceterach officinarum or Asplenium trichomanes, preceded by bulbs like Galanthus ‘Elfin’ or Narcissus minor ‘Little Gem’. Add a dwarf Japanese maple and you’ll have the perfect mini foliage garden!

Finally, if you want to learn more about using hostas in various garden settings why not try Planting the dry shade garden a book by Graham Rice featuring over 130 plants that grow well in shade.

Image of Răzvan Chişu Răzvan Chişu

Răzvan Chişu MCIHort, has had a passion for alpines since he joined the AGS aged 14. As a professional horticulturalist, he divides his time between garden design jobs, giving lectures and running plant hunting tours. His plant interests are diverse and wide ranging, from bulbs, to ferns, succulents and hardy perennials.