Hosta Species - Groups - Cultivar Series - Hosta Names

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

According to Mark Zilis, hybridizer, author of three books on hostas and former owner of Q&Z Nursery in Rochelle, Illinois in a presentation at the 2010 The American Hosta Society convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota "...there are now over 8,000 identified types of hostas and around 5,000 hosta cultivars registered with The American Hosta Society." Note: Q&Z Nursery closed in the fall of 2014.

That is an increase of nearly 10 fold in that 22 year period. Of all these new cultivars, many, many differ from others in only one minor trait so they are often difficult 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 of varieties apart.

Hosta Helper Collection - In our ongoing efforts to help people select hostas for their gardens, we have photographed many, many hostas on our journeys around the gardening world.

So far, we have included information on 8,008 species and named cultivars. We also include pictures of 2,782 hostas that we have taken in public and private gardens, nurseries and leaf shows over the years. You can find our complete listing of pictured and non-pictured hostas in alphabetical order in the Hosta Cultivar Section of this website. 

We have also selected a hundred or so of the "Classic Hostas" in the opinion of Mr PGC. For more on these, click the icon.



Finally, as we have sifted through the huge amount of information in The Hostapedia, we have made note of the best and the worst hostas according to the author, Mark Zilis. These are listed in our Mark Zilis All-Star and Mark Zilis NO-Star listings.

About Hosta Numbers: As we have sifted 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) comments on around 7,000 named hostas that he has observed over his long career. However, this does not mean that you can go to a nursery or online shop and buy that many. 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 are noted as "not existing" anymore.

Hosta cultivars for which we have one or more images are listed by alphabetical order.

Taxonomists (people who categorize and name living organisms such as plants) can go into dizzying detail in their arguments over what constitutes a species. However, for most of us, a simple definition is that the plant either currently exists in the wild or there is evidence (fossils, herbaria specimens, etc.) that it once did.

In his investigations, Schmid (1991) found such evidence for 43 species of hostas including the following:

Our database has listings of cultivars related to each of these species of hostas.

In nature, variations occur within plant species that are not great enough to warrant naming an entire new species. These identifiable variations on the wild species are called varieties. Yes, this term is commonly also used, although incorrectly, to signify what is really a cultivar i.e. cultivated variety.

In addition to the 43 species listed above, Schmid (1991), also listed the following significant botanical varieties (naturally occurring) and forms of the genus Hosta:

H. clausa normalis

H. kikutii caput-avis

H. kikutii var. kikutii forma leuconata

H. kikutii var. polyneuron

H. longipes var. caduca

H. longipes forma hypoglauca

H. longipes latifolia

H. longipes forma sparsa

 
H. longipes forma viridipes
H. longipes var. vulgata

H. longissima var. longifolia

H. montana forma macrophylia

H. plantaginea var. japonica

H. sieboldii forma angustifolia

H. sieboldii forma okamii

H. sieboldii forma spathulata

Hosta Groups Names - In his 1991 book, The Genus Hosta, W. George Schmid determined that a number of hostas that were historically called species were actually cultivars. Most of this change in classification was due to the lack of evidence that these plants had ever existed in the wild which is one criteria for being called a species.

bulletH. 'Crispula'
bulletH. 'Decorata'
bulletH. 'Fortunei'
bulletH. 'Helonioides'
bulletH. 'Lancifolia'
bulletH. 'Opipara'

 

bulletH. 'Tardiflora'
bulletH. 'Tokudama'
bulletH. 'Undulata'

 

Hosta Series Names - Some hybridizers or plant originators choose a "trademark" word which they include in the names of all or most of their hosta cultivar introductions. Here are some of the most common hosta series. Click on the name to see a list of relevant cultivars.

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