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The petiole is the stalk that connects the leaf blade to the crown beneath the soil surface. Here, we are looking for any unique characteristics that will help identify the cultivar. In recent years, the most common trait that differentiates petioles is the presence of the color red. This may be in the form of red spots or may be a more solid reddish to purplish pigmentation.

The species Hosta longipes and H. pycnophylla have petioles with red to purple dots on them. As hybridizers continue to emphasize this characteristic, they are hoping to move the red color further up into the leaf blade itself. Who knows, we may have red leafed hostas not too far in the future. Is that good or bad? You decide.

List of Hostas with a) Red Petioles , b) Red Flower Scapes, c) Tall Flower Scapes and d) Branched Flowers Scapes.

There is also a trait called "no apparent petiole". Certain plants such as H. 'Gosan Lettuce' or H. 'Ginsu Knife' have leaf blades that continue more or less uninterrupted down the sides of the petiole. Instead of having a petiole that resembles a celery stalk, these types appear to have "wings" on the leaf stalk.

June Colley of the U.K. wrote an article in The Hosta Journal (2018 Vol. 49 No. 2) titled, "A Study of Red Petioles in Our Hanging Hosta Garden." She did an in depth discussion of the role of anthocyanin in the red color of plants including the petioles of hostas. June included the following chart giving examples of different pigmentation patterns she has observed:

i. Hostas with little red pigments or those with pigments confined to the lower end of the stem: 'The Twister', 'Purple Passion', 'Fujibotan', 'Neptune', 'Ruffed Up'.
ii Hostas that display a faded-look, flecking not well-defined: 'Doctor Fu Manchu', 'Jaws', 'Ebony Towers', 'Flemish Waves', 'Red Salamander'
iii Red or purple pigments found on the back of the stem only: 'Elvis Lives', 'Ginsu Knife', H. sieboldii f. spathulata, 'Cherry Berry'
iv Red or purple pigments found back to back on the stems (occurs in majority): H. jonesii, 'Blueberry Muffin', 'Best of Twenty', 'Violetta', 'Miss Linda Smith', 'Plum Pudding'
v Speckles or flecks distinctive and well spaced (not overlapping), more attractive: 'Red Sox', 'Deane's Dream', 'One Man's Treasure', H. okamotoi, 'Cinnamon Sticks'
vi Pigmentation dense, appearing solid in large areas: 'Sugar Plum', 'Lemon Snap', 'Designer Genes', 'First Blush', 'Harry van de Laar'
vii Pigments with bluish purple tone, some more distinct in late summer: 'Beet Salad', 'Raspberry Sundae', 'Mr Blue', 'Theo's  Blue', 'Monkey Business'
viii Stem margin pigmentation different from centre (also flecks in both parts differ in sizes): 'Raspberry Sundae'

There are many more cultivars that have red petioles. If you would like to add your opinion on where other red petioled hostas fit in this chart, please send us an EMAIL. We will add your suggested cultivars to the list along with your name.

To refresh your memory, here is a list of hostas with Red Petioles.


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