In their native environments, hostas are found growing in a large range of conditions. Some grow in woodlands while other prefer grassy plains. Many are found growing precariously from cracks in solid rock cliffs. Although some of these sites are shady, many are in the full sun. Rather than sunlight, the key factor seems to be the air temperature and moisture levels. This may be one of the reasons that hostas will thrive in higher levels of sun exposure in northern gardens than they do in the southern part of the U.S. where both day and night summer temperatures tend to be much warmer.

It appears that most of the hostas that we commonly grow in home landscapes originated from the margins of the forest or from open grassland areas in Asia. Other species that have not been quite so popular to this point in the home garden often come from quite different environments. Hosta hypoleuca is found growing in pretty dense shade as well as on full-sun cliffs in the mountains. Hosta longissima with its narrow, long leaves is native to damp meadows and grows among tall Miscanthus grasses at the higher elevations on Japanese islands. The miniature species, Hosta venusta is sometimes found growing on moss covered trees like an epiphyte. Sphagnum peat bogs are the home of Hosta alismifolia while Hosta kiyosumiensis grows on the banks of streams and swamps.

One other common characteristic of the native lands of hostas is that they all are in temperate regions of the world. This means that they regularly experience killing frosts in the autumn and freezing temperatures throughout the winter months. This is why most hostas need to go into cold dormancy for part of the year.

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