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When a part of a clump makes a permanent color change, it is called a sport. However, it has been discovered over years of observations in the garden that certain hostas experience temporary, seasonal changes in their colors every year. In other words, they emerge from the soil in the spring with a certain color pattern and by fall, they have transformed into a slightly different color. The degree and extent of the seasonal change is often influenced by the weather during a particular summer.

Of course we have already mentioned that blue-green hostas will often lose the wax on the surface of their leaves allowing the green color from below to show through. What we are talking about here is an actual change in the pigment inside the leaf cells that cause a change in color over the length of a single growing season.

Seasonal Color Changes and Effects

Albescence - Lutescence - Viridescence - Blue to Green - White Surfaces


          1. Albescence - Alba is the Latin term for white. So, what happens here is that plants start as another color such as yellow or cream but turn lighter and whiter as the season moves through the summer.

          2. Lutescence - The term lutea means yellow in Latin so this has to do with a change in yellow hosta leaf tissue. In this case, the plants emerge as greenish-yellow, pale yellow or yellow and, as the season progresses, they become more of a golden-yellow color. In a few cultivars, this actually results in an attractive fall golden hue.

          3. Viridescence - Latin for green is viridis and this term relates to the change in the green pigment of hostas. Generally, these plants emerge in the spring as light green or medium green plants and turn to darker green by the end of the summer months. Therefore, they generally are at their peak color interest in the spring and early summer.

          4. Blue to Green -  The color blue on hosta leaves is due to the presences of a waxy "bloom" that covers the surface of a normally green leaf. This wax is at its thickest and reflects blue light the best in the early spring after the plants first emerge. The heat of the summer and rain beating down on the leaf wears away the wax revealing the green below.

On many blue-green hostas, this color change will vary from year to year, site to site and even leaf to leaf depending on the intensity of the sunlight, heat, dry weather and other factors. However, certain cultivars are noted for routinely changes color, generally from blue-green to dark green, every season. We have created the term "Bluescence" for such hostas and have gathered a listing of cultivars noted for this feature.

          5. White Surface Effects -  A few hosta species such as Hosta hypoleuca, Hosta pycnophylla and Hosta longipes 'Urajiro' are known for having white on the underside of the leaves. This color is the result of a covering of an opaque white powder that the plants produce.

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