Sun Tolerant Hostas

big-daddy-hosta-2-400Is there such a thing as sun tolerant Hostas? Find out which varieties fare better in sunny areas and those to avoid plus growing tips for “sun” Hostas. I have also written about how to use hostas in a perennial bed border.

How many times have you been on a garden tour and have seen a Hosta variety that you remember for days?  It is what makes avid gardeners take their pencil and paper along to these outings and write down all the names of the excellent varieties they want to add to their own flower beds. However it can be difficult to duplicate the planting conditions and sun exposure.

Many times each year someone that visits our home will ask me about “Sun Hostas” and mention they have heard or read there were some new Hostas that were good to plant in the sun.

I always tell them, no, there are no “Sun Hostas” but that some of the varieties are able to stand more sun than others. The person asking always seems disappointed when I tell them that there are no specific Hosta varieties bred to consider it a plant for full sun.

I too would love to purchase a Hosta that would thrive in the hot sun in the south west corner of a building!

Hosta Varieties that Fare better in Sunny Areas

Not all is lost though, as many of the heavy rugose leaved Hostas will withstand more sun than others. Varieties that are better suited for hot sun places are Halcyon, August Moon, Sum & Substance, Sun Power and ones like Big Daddy with large corrugated leaves. Also, June, Touch of Class, Gold Regal, King Tut, Lady Isobel Barnett, Krossa Regal, Paradigm, Elaitor, Nigrescens, Komodo Dragon, Montana, (the species all green variety) and Bressingham Blue.

Mostly you have to try it in your setting and soil to see how things work.  If there isn’t any afternoon shade, then probably plant something different in that spot or use some man-made shade.

Varieties of Sun Tolerant Hostas

There may be more, but these I have in my gardens and so can say they are quite sun tolerant.

  • Halcyon
  • August Moon
  • Sum & Substance
  • September Sun
  • Sun Power
  • Big Daddy
  • June
  • Touch of Class
  • Gold Regal
  • King Tut
  • Lady Isobel Barnett
  • Paradigm
  • Elaitor
  • Nigrescens
  • Montana (all green species)
  • Bressingham Blue
  • Krossa Regal

Characteristics to look for:

  • Thicker leaf texture – the thicker the better
  • Corrugated leaves
  • Look for larger varieties with more root mass to absorb more water

What you Give Up:

  • Will possibly lose their dark bluish coloring
  • May have sunburn around edges of leaves
  • May also have sunburn holes in the middle of the leaves
  • May lose their glaucus bloom (powder coating) in the leaves
  • May lose their bluish color

I  had for years Halcyon planted in probably 85% full sun, hot west sun in the afternoon, and they survived just fine each year.  They would burn some, but not bad for all that sun. (These were out in the open, not next to a cement walk or foundation that generates temperatures 10 to 15 degrees hotter.)

They however, did not retain their nice bluish color in that full sun.  I wanted them for a mass planting and didn’t care that they weren’t as blue as Halcyon should be, but wanted them more for their floral display in August! En masse, Halcyon can be one of the better floral displays for Hostas.

Hosta Varieties to Avoid in Sunny Areas

Any Hosta with a thin leaf texture (the ones the slugs like best) either greens or golds or variegated, will not take a lot of sun, and will burn in too much sun.  However, if they are in too deep shade, that is not good either as they do need some light to grow well.

What to Avoid:

  • Thin leaf texture
  • Green or Gold Variegated Leaves

I have found that water and soil is the tweekable items to getting Hostas to be able to withstand more sunlight.  This is what all the books say, and what all the speakers say, is that they need at least an inch of water per week to maintain healthy plants.

The leaves are so large and water evaporates so fast from them that they need to receive much extra water.  Not just a cup or two when you think of it, but even lots more water when the temperature gets over that 90 degree mark.

And, when the clumps get over 5 years old, the roots are fighting for all the soil and water they can as they get so root bound.

Planting Tips for Growing Hostas in Sun

  • Give them plenty of water  (soak older root bound plants)  Put the hose on the root ball area of the plant and let it run slowly for 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Good quality soil  (lots of compost please!)
  • Man-Made Shade

Many years I have a tendency to believe the weather man saying it is going to rain the next day and so won’t go through the work of watering the ones I know need extra water, and then the rain will go around us, and then a day or two will go by without the extra moisture they need.  This is when Hostas start to deteriorate.  I have seen amazing things happen and the plant comes back to life when they are given plenty of water on time when they need it.

Soil is the second thing that plants need almost more than moisture, as with good soil filled with compost, retains water readily.

We did some house renovation on our house in the past few years,  and in replanting two beds, we had to purchase “black dirt” to fill in for the beds next to the house.

I was beside myself with joy when I planted the new beds and in each hole I dug, I put a half pail of compost and then filled in with the new loose soil!  It was such a hot dry summer, and all the older beds were hard clay and plants in them, couldn’t be persuaded to be moved, and this was the first time I had ever had a new bed with new soi

I had amended soil in the old beds, but it never was like planting in nice loose soil.  It was just like gardening programs on television!  I could see after about a month, into August, that the Hostas were starting to take hold and really did well, even with the hot weather continuing.  I watered them all at least once each week, some of the miniatures and smaller varieties more often, even every day.

(I use a pail of water and an 8 oz. plastic glass and pour a small amount on the little ones, and then go back again.  If the temperature is at 90 or above, the water evaporates very quickly.)

You can also use man-made shade too, with trellises or vintage gates set in the garden, with vines making the shade needed for a hosta.  Pergolas too, add much interest and focus on the gardens, as well as the shade again.

One Last Tip

One of the best ways to tell if a specific Hosta variety fares well in sun is to go to your local nursery in August and look at the Hostas. Check the leaves closely and see which varieties do not have burnt leaves. You can also do this while on a garden tour or when visiting friends.

Make sure that the ones you are looking at have actually been in the hot sun and are out of protected elements.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mystic Gardener April 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Very good information about hosta that do well (better) in the sun and Execellent information on the care and planting of Hosta..
Very good information all round.


Judi May 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Thank you Mystic Gardener for the nice complements!


Becky Groth August 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm

We are planning a border of Hostas in the front of our house. We want a strip of large hostas about 12 ft. long. There are so many listed here, could you please shorten the list for us? Thanks for your help. Becky


Birdell Reed February 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

Thank you for the information about the Hostas. I found out about hostas that grow in the sun by accident. I don’t have trees around my house. I always buy flowers that like the sun. Some people look forward to looking at my flowers each year. Where can I buy some of these hostas? I don’t ever see the kind that can grow in the sun around here. Birdell Reed


Judi February 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Hello Birdell,
Thank you for your questions. There are numerous places to purchase Hostas. I don’t know where you live, but the first is to check nearby nurserys. Most will only have 20-25 varieties. Go on your computer and type in Hostas in say Michigan if that is where you live. There should be a lot of places that come up for you to check out. Some will be nurseries, and some will be mail order nurseries. You will pay more locally usually as they are usually larger and older plants than can be shipped from a nursery. There are some locally here in West Central Wisconsin that grow many, many varieties and also do mail order. (don’t order anything in the hot summer!) Order early in the winter or spring and have the site ready to plant when they are sent.
Now, another thing to consider is your soil. Since you have a lot of sun, you will want to prepare your soil with Lots of compost. And, be prepared to water, water, water. Hostas need Lots of water, since their leaves are large and evaporate water fast. Another thing you can do is to plant Hostas in containers to keep a better check on them. Again, depending on your location, these can be wintered over in a garage. Hostas need the cold in the winter months to make food for the summer months.
So, for a few places to purchase Hostas there is Uniquely Hostas in Elroy, WI is a good site to check out. Also Klehms Song Sparrow Farm in southern Wisconsin, Hostas Direct, Minneapolis, MN, Land of the Giants Hostas, Funkie Gardens, House of Hostas in Green Bay, WI. to name a few.
I hope I have helped you in your growing of Hostas!


Kelda brooks April 14, 2017 at 4:27 am

Hi there!

I recently bought some June hostas to plant in my front yard to line my sidewalk. It is part sun to sun and am willing to give it a try. I am going to run a soaker hose through them and have mulch on top of the soil. My question is, should I water them daily? We live in TN (zone 7) and it does get very hot and sometimes very dry in July and August. Can I over water them and if I am, how will I know? Thank you so much!


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