formerly known as Hosta sieboldiana

Status Change - In his 2010 Species Update, W. George Schmid examined the origins of what was then the species, Hosta sieboldiana. The sports and hybrids of this plant account for more different cultivars in home gardens than any other hosta. In his extensive study, Schmid concluded that the plant grown in our gardens as H. sieboldiana is actually a hybrid cultivar developed in Europe after it was imported there from Japan by Philip von Siebold in 1862. One of the key factors in defining a species is that it may be found in the "wild" and that does not appear to apply to this hosta. Therefore, the proper name for this plant is H. ‘Sieboldiana’.

Although this change has been officially adopted by The American Hosta Society, there seems to be a bit of disagreement concerning this change among some Hostaphiles. Bob Solberg of Green Hill Farm in North Carolina in The Hosta Journal (2018 Vol. 49 No 2) states that he and Mark Zilis of T&Z or Q&Z Nursery in Illinois on a recent trip to Japan found at least one example of the species form of 'Sieboldiana'  growing in the wild.

If you have a large size, bluish green, mound forming hosta, odds are that it has 'Sieboldiana', somewhere in its background. Perhaps the classic of this type is H. 'Elegans' which has been around for around a century.

The average size mound of this hosta will be about 24 inches high and over 60 inches wide at maturity. It will have near white flowers with a pale lavender mid-tepal stripe from late June into mid-July. The leaves are broadly ovate, with thick substance and are heavily corrugated. It emerges blue-green in the spring due to a waxy cover or bloom on the leaf. However, the wax may melt away as the summer progresses resulting in a dark green colored leaf by fall.

According to The Hostapedia by Mark Zilis (2009) there is some confusion about the actual characteristics of 'Sieboldiana'. The true forms that he has observed do not always match those of H. 'Elegans'. They have less corrugation in the leaves, are not as blue and form clusters of flowers that are less dense than those of 'Elegans'.

Zilis (2009), continues "The true 'Sieboldiana' is uncommon in hosta collections and nurseries. Most plants with this label are actually green-leaved seedlings of H. 'Elegans' and are not the true type...I attempted to find 'Sieboldiana' in the wild or wild-collected specimens. No collector I encountered had ever seen it...Even veteran plant-hunters, who had found hundreds of other unusual hostas in the wild, had never seen it."

At the January 19, 2013 Hosta Scientific Meeting in Lisle, Illinois, Mark Zilis said that Japanese plant collectors believe that they have found plants of the species that resulted in 'Sieboldiana', in a remote part of one of the Japanese islands. He said that the discovery is yet to be scientifically confirmed but he hoped that a more definitive declaration would be coming in a year or two.

"H. 'Cucullata'= 'Sieboldiana' " - Also, this may have been sold as Mackwoods No. 1 at one time.

So, it sounds as if, when someone talks about a "Sieboldiana" type hosta, they are really talking about H. 'Elegans' and its many, many seedlings and sports.

Bill Meyer in The Hosta Journal (2003 Vol. 34 No. 1) states that, "'Sieboldiana' virtually the opposite of H. sieboldii, they both add large leaves, rounded leaf shapes, rugosity and heavy substance. They are also the origin of the wax that makes green hostas appear blue and of lutescent yellow coloring (all other species produce viridescent yellow seedlings). Like H. sieboldii, they yield large quantities of seed...Slow growth and poor division formation are at the top of the list of negative traits. In addition, they flower early, at a time when few other species bloom, often adapt poorly to hotter climates, go dormant in the summer and lack new leaf production during the second half of the season. Some would consider them overused."

An article by W. George Schmid in The Hosta Journal (2009 Vol. 40 No. 3) states that, "Over the last 40 years I have learned that any plant with 'Sieboldiana'  or 'Tokudama' in its background cannot stand drought."



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