Hosta 'Aurora Borealis'

This sport of H. 'Frances Williams' with wider leaf margins was originated by Thelma Rudolph and was registered in 1986 by Walters Gardens, Inc. of Michigan

Forming a very large size mound of corrugated foliage, this cultivar has dense clusters of near white flowers from mid-June into July. It is susceptible to spring desiccation burn (see below).

It is often mistaken for the original cultivar and, according to The Hosta Handbook by Mark Zilis (2000), "...many plants labeled 'Frances Williams' may actually be 'Aurora Borealis'..." and this cultivar has also been known as H. 'Chicago Frances Williams' in the past.

An article by Alex Summers in The Hosta Journal (1995 Vol. 26 No. 2) was titled, "Hosta 'Frances Williams': A New Look at an Old Favorite". The main premise of the piece was that over the long history of H. 'Frances Williams' which was discovered in 1936, the plant sold by that name in recent decades is actually H. 'Aurora Borealis'. He claimed to have a clump of the original Williams' plant which he named 'Bristol Frances Williams' to indicate that it is the one found by Frances Williams in 1936 in Bristol, CT. The plant known as H. 'Aurora Borealis' came from a hosta that Chet Tompkins' mother, Cynthia received from England in 1924 and later named by Thelma Rudolph of Illinois."

An article about H. 'Aurora Borealis' by Warren I. Pollock in The Hosta Journal (1997 Vol. 28 No. 1) states that, "Most, if not all, of the descriptions of this cultivar state it emerges from the ground three weeks later than does 'Frances Williams'. This is incorrect. It emerges perhaps three days later, if that. I am responsible for the error."

An article titled Too Many Lookalikes by Bob Keller in The Hosta Journal (2010 Vol. 41 No. 2) states that, "There are many registered 'Frances Williams' lookalikes including H. 'Aurora Borealis', H. 'Squash Edge', 'Holly's Green and Gold', 'Golden Circles' and 'Olive Bailey Langdon', as well as some unregistered ones."

"Plant is robust yellow marginated form of H. sieboldiana. Grows larger than and is reportedly not as prone to necrosis (i.e. spring desiccation) as H. 'Frances Williams'. Other authors consider it merely the mature form of the latter."

There is also a cultivar out of Canada with the French name H. 'Aurore Boréale'.

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bullet H. 'Gilt Edge'
bullet H. 'Samuari'
bullet H. 'Super Nova' (which is the reversed sport of 'Aurora Borealis').

Large, blue-green hostas with a gold/yellow marginal variegation such as H. 'Frances Williams', a medial (center) variegation like H. 'Brother Stefan' or yellow/gold leaf H. seiboldiana related cultivars such as H. 'Golden Sunburst' can make very attractive statements in the garden. Unfortunately, some of this type of hosta suffer from a physiological disorder called "spring desiccation burn".

For some reason, these plants often sustain discoloration and damage to the gold/yellow variegated margin or center of the leaf. Although this does not kill the plant, it does make it unattractive looking later in the season.

We have accumulated sample lists of similar size and color cultivars noted as being Resistant or Susceptible to spring desiccation burn.


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