Often when the specific parentage of a hosta is unknown, people will say that by its appearance, it must have Hosta XYZ in its background. A very common situation is to say that a plant is an H. 'Sieboldiana' or H. 'Elegans' type meaning that it is a large size, blue-green colored plant.

Frequently, hostas of unknown heritage will be related to the characteristics of a particular hosta species. Small, spreading plants may of a Hosta venusta type for example. Plants with a whitish coloration to the bottom of the leaves may be noted as being of the Hosta pycnophylla type.

In other cases, plants may be said to be "similar looking" to another species or cultivar in terms of size, leaf color and pattern or other physical traits.

If the parents of a particular hosta are unknown, hostaphiles will often find more general descriptive terms to describe it. One of these is to call it a certain "Type" hosta assigned to one of the more well known cultivars or species. Many large, blue-green hostas are said to be H. 'Sieboldiana'-type plants for example.


If you are interested specifically in hosta species, we have an index page that will lead you to the background listings for all of the 42 recognized species as well as to many forms and naturally occurring varieties of the species.


Some hosta experts or references claim that cultivar "A" is the same as cultivar "B". Our interpretation is that they mean that the physical traits of the two plants are exactly the same. Often this is based on visual observation or it may come from historical information known to the expert. Of course, this is different from the category "Similar Looking" in which cultivars may share certain physical traits but not others.


In this case, different plants have the same name. This usually occurs because two or more originators are unaware that the other(s) have given the same name to their cultivar(s). If one of the plants is registered with The American Hosta Society, it becomes the "official" plant of that name and the others should be renamed to avoid confusion.


This is the situation where the same plant has been known by different names. Sometimes a plant has been renamed by the originator or mistakenly listed in references or catalogs.

At times, rather than give the actual parent plant, originators will cite what is called a "complex cross" instead. This would be something like reporting [('Blue Angel' × 'Elegans') × ('Sagae' × 'Halcyon')] as the pod parent. These plants are actually the new cultivar's maternal grandparents and would be considered part of the plant's "background".

Hybridizers often sow dozens of seeds from the same pod and grow them on as seedlings. Normally, they may find one seedling worth naming but more likely, they will discard the entire group as unworthy. In rare cases, two or more seedlings are selected for introduction. Tissue culture propagations produce hundreds of new individuals from the one mother plant. Again, in rare cases two or more of these sports will mutate into plants worthy of naming. In both cases, these would be called sibling plants.


"Same As" plants are identical. Similar Looking hostas share several traits in common but are not identical. The color of the margins may vary or the size of the variegation is slightly different or one plant flowers differently from the other.


This group includes examples where two or more different plants have names that are similar. 'Maggie's Angel' and 'Margie's Angel' or 'Maraschino Cherry' and 'Maraschino Cherry Twist' would be examples.


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