The number of new and different hostas has exploded over recent decades. One of the early hosta pioneers, Paul Aden author of The Hosta Book, stated that in 1988, "...at least 600 hosta cultivars have been formally registered."

In a 2010 presentation, Mark Zilis, hybridizer, author of three books on hostas and former owner of Q&Z Nursery commented that "...there are now over 8,000 identified types of hostas and around 5,000 hosta cultivars registered with The American Hosta Society." 

Through 2017, the Hosta Registrar reported that 5,859 cultivars have been registered with The American Hosta Society. That is an increase of nearly 10 fold in the number of registered hostas in the past three decades. The total of all named hostas is probably over 12,000.

Of this abundance of cultivars, many, many differ from others in only one minor trait making it difficult (and in some cases impossible) to differentiate between certain sets of cultivars. In fact, unless you are willing to make a lifetime study of hostas like Mark Zilis, most of us will be unable to tell hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hosta varieties apart. So, how do we approach this jumble?

Sounds like a huge number of hostas, but remember that there are reportedly over 70,000 named daylilies!

People who grow hostas seem to fall into one of four categories:

1) Backyard gardeners who use them as part of an overall landscape plan. They need a hosta of a certain size, color or form for a specific spot in their beds or borders.

2) Collectors who grow almost exclusively hostas and are constantly looking for the new and exciting introductions. They may have hundreds or even thousands of cultivars in their gardens.

3) Hybridizers who search for plants to use in their breeding programs. They want to know the traits and lineage of hosta cultivars.

4) A combination of the other three categories.

We hope that Hosta Helper can be of assistance to all four types.

Hostas are the number one selling species of herbaceous perennials. So, there is no question of their popularity in the home landscape where they are used for the beautiful foliage. The key traits under consideration for using hostas in the landscape are mature size and leaf color (including variegation). Beautiful arrangements of hostas and other plants or just hostas alone can be made following basic design criteria for these two traits. For those who want to go the next step, factors such as flower types, leaf texture, corrugation, petiole colors and mound shape can also be included in the decision process.

To help you select hostas for the home landscape, we have included sort pages based on size, basic leaf color and type of variegation for a large number of hostas.

Many of the people who like to collect hostas are interested in what is available out there in the world which might add to their collection. We have included background information such as the originator, historical information and plants that belong to various named series of hostas. For the fun of it, we also include groupings of hostas based on words included in their name or by categories such as geographical, animal, religion, movies, TV, music and many others.

For the hosta hybridizer, we have tons of information of value. Where available, we include the lineage of the plant including the mother plant of sports, the seed parent and/or the pollen parent. Of course the physical traits of each plant are important in trying to create new plants with certain traits. We also have a large list of hybridizers from the U.S. and other countries that might be useful as a resource.

As we have filtered through tons and tons of information about hosta cultivars, it has become apparent that some of the numbers thrown around are a bit deceptive. For instance, Mark Zilis in his wonderful publication The Hostapedia (2009) discusses around 7,000 named hostas that he has personally observed over 30 years or more. However, this does not mean that you can go to a nursery or online shop and buy that many different hostas.

Actually, many, many of the named plants exist only in the garden of the originator or a few collectors and will never be introduced into the marketplace. Others are under long term evaluation and some of those will end up in the compost bin. Some named cultivars have fallen out of favor and are noted as "not existing" anymore.

Hosta Helper Collection - So far, we have included information on over 12,000 cultivar and species names in our database. This includes both registered and non-registered plants along with duplicate, incorrect or out-dated names. We also include pictures of 3,352 different hostas that we have taken in public and private gardens, nurseries and at 17 National Conventions of The American Hosta Society. You can find our complete listing of pictured and non-pictured hostas in alphabetical order in our Hosta Cultivar Section. 

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