PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm


Here’s a weird little factoid – forty below zero in Fahrenheit is also minus 40 in Celsius. It is also the level of cold Hostas can endure. They can survive that but then can get decimated by deer, slugs, and snails. Here’s another weird little factoid – you can eat the hostas before the other critters do.

Hostas are master magicians, disappearing without a trace in late autumn and suddenly exploding from the earth in mid spring, growing shockingly fast, from spiky little shoots to a jungle of huge fleshy leaves in just a couple of weeks. The spiky stage, when the tightly curled up leaf shoots resemble asparagus, is what you want. The flavor lands somewhere between asparagus and lettuce. Shoots that are 4-10 inches tall are the best. All parts are edible, but become bitter with age.

Hostas are all dramatic foliage with huge succulent leaves atop single stems. These colonize over years into ever-increasing clumps of stems. In early summer, flower spikes shoot above the foliage and open to lovely white or pink to pinkish purple flowers that look like mini lotus blooms. Some varieties have enormous 18 inch leaves, some are two or three toned, some are heart shaped. Colors range from brilliant chartreuse to steely blue-grey-green. Some smooth, others oddly puckered.

Hostas love shade but most will tolerate a little sun too. Depending on variety, they will get 1 to 2 feet tall and are nearly care-free. We use Sluggo brand repellent for slugs and snails. You’ll have to figure out how to keep the venison away yourself.