This seedling of
self-pollinated H. 'Big John' which was formerly known as H. 'Xanadu Empress Wu', was
Virginia and Brian Skaggs of Indiana in 2008. It was also granted a U.S.
patent in 2010.
This is a fast
growing, giant size plant that grows
up to 50 inches high and a spread of 108 inches or more. The
dark green leaves
are broadly ovate, moderately flat and slightly shiny on top.
From late June into July, very pale lavender flowers
with faint striping bloom on scapes up to 4 feet
tall. It sets viable seeds.
The Hostapedia by Mark Zilis (2009), "...wins the championship for
largest leaves of any hosta...many leaves over 30 inches
long...This cultivar should also be considered when breeding for
Field Guide to Hostas by Mark Zilis (2014), "Perhaps crossing 'Empress Wu' with 'Elatior' or 'Sum
and Substance' will someday yield the first 30"
(76.2 cm) long hosta leaf!"
The New Encyclopedia of Hostas by
Grenfell (2009) states: "Site in light to moderate shade in light woodland
or at the back of a larger border. Allow plenty of
space for eventual increase...Puckered, folded
leaves. One of the largest hostas."
This plant is part of the
group of hostas from Walters Gardens, Inc.
An article about H. 'Empress Wu' by Warren I. Pollock in
Hosta Journal (2011 Vol. 42 No. 1) quotes
"It is one of the first up...and one of the first to flower. Go figure! What is
really nice is that 'Empress Wu' holds her flowers right at or just above the
loftiest leaves. (One H. 'Elatior' in the world is enough!). For the hybridizer,
she keeps pumping flower scapes over a long period. How sweet!...Also, the dogs
very much enjoy the cool soil in her high shade on a warm summer day."
Rob Mortko in
Hosta Journal (2008 Vol. 39 No.3) says that, "This
seedling was named 'Xanadu Empress Wu', now shortened to 'Empress Wu'. In case
you're wondering, 'Empress Wu' was named in honor of arguably the most powerful
and influential woman in world history. She was the only female emperor ever in
China, reigning for half a century during the Tang Dynasty...in the 7th century
A.D...In many ways, 'Empress Wu' looks just like 'Big John' -- only on steroids.
In addition to size, however, it also has some other interesting differences. H.
'Empress Wu' continuously sends up scapes for nearly two months, with an overall
bloom time approaching three months. Blooming typically starts in late May,
almost a month before 'Big John'. "