In Mr. PGC's opinion, not every hosta has an outstanding trait that jumps out at you the minute you see it. Those types of plants are few and far between. They are the ones that become the "Classic Hostas" known to most Hostaphiles around the world.

However, each hosta cultivar or species has one or more traits that help to make it useful in the home landscape. Hostas given labels for the following traits show some sort of unique or "special" characteristic which helps to separate them from other hostas. By labeling the hosta cultivars, we hope to assist the gardener if finding plants to fill certain roles in the home garden. Afterall, there are closing in on 10,000 cultivars of hostas and we need to have some ways to try to make some sense of this volume of plants when choosing the 10 or 20 types that we want for our suburban or urban backyard shade garden.

The base colors of hostas leaves include shades of green, blue-green, yellow (gold) and white. This is defined as the color that covers 60% or more of the leaf surface. Also included in this trait is variegation which is, perhaps, the most important feature that draws many people to hostas. Variegation consists of an area of the leaf that is not the same as the base color of that leaf. The two most common variegation forms are marginal (along the edge of the leaf) and medial (variegation in the center of the leaf). The third form is called streaked where specks of color different from the base color appear on the leaf surface.

Leaf color will be identified for a plant if it is the trait that helps to make a particular plant "landscape useful". Leaf color may help to make the plant standout on its own or to be a complement to other nearby plants. A plant will fall into this category if it has "outstanding" color in some way such as a deep blue or brilliant gold margin.

Some hostas stand out from the crowd simply because of their size. Of course, the most common example would be those huge plants that are outstanding specimens on their own. On the other extreme are the miniature size plants which are very tiny and work only in the very front of the border or in containers.

Most hostas have a rounded form to their clump. However, there are certain plants that have a more vase-shaped or upright form which is unique in itself. Some hostas have an "unruly" form with foliage that flops here and there on its own.

Most hosta flowers range in color from pure white to lavender to purple and shades in between. The majority of them are bell-shaped and single with 6 tepals (combination of petals and sepals). So, flowers receiving this label have some unique or outstanding feature above and beyond the ordinary. They may have outstanding color, shape, season of bloom, height of scapes, etc.

Hostas are known for their foliage. There are several non-color traits that relate to the leaves that can help to differentiate one cultivar from another. Also, these traits can help to enhance (or detract) the value of the plant in the home landscape. Outstanding or unique leaf traits that we try to identify include leaf corrugation, ripples, waviness and thickness or substance.

In recent decades, the color red has become more prominent in hostas. Hybridizers and others are trying their best to create new hostas with not only red petioles and flower scapes but red also moving up into the leaf blade. Cultivars with this designation are noted for unique or unusual red coloration.

This is a catch-all category where we hope to designate those hostas that are truly "unique" for some reason. The criteria for being cast in this way are difficult to quantify. It may describe a "one of a kind" hosta or a plant that has a "one of a kind" individual trait. This is one of those, "you'll know a unique hosta when you see one" things.

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