People know Hostas for their shade-tolerant nature. But what if you love Hostas and you don’t have much shade? Which Hostas Like Sun?
Yellow (and variegated yellow) Hostas like sun more than other varieties. Breeds with thicker leaves and highly textured/ridged leaves also handle sun better than thin-leafed varieties. Some examples include: Sum and Substance, Piedmont Gold, Sun Power, Guacamole, and Stained Glass.
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Considerations for Growing Hostas in Sun
Even the most sun-tolerant Hostas will probably not survive in all-day sun. That’s just not what they’re hardwired to do. Anyone who’s telling you otherwise is probably just trying to sell you a plant.
At best, Hostas like sun in moderate amounts. The varieties I recommended above can tolerate around 6 hours of morning sun. They’ll likely burn up with 6 hours of intense afternoon sun or 6 hours of morning sun with even just 2 hours of afternoon sun.
There is some wiggle-room there, though. Shoot for no more than 6 hours of direct sun total for these sun-tolerant selections.
Consider each hour of afternoon sun as 2 hours and each hour of morning sun as 1 hour. This isn’t a perfect ratio, but it’s about right.
I’ve grown Stained Glass Hostas successfully with 3 hours of direct afternoon sun. Just make sure that they get plenty of water, especially during the summer heat. They will dry out quickly.
On the other end of the spectrum, Hostas don’t grow well in Full Shade either. They need some sunlight to produce flowers and grow properly. I cover this topic more in my Hosta care guide.
What is the Most Sun Tolerant Hosta?
This is a complicated question and it’s difficult to say for certain. If I had to pick one Hosta that I believe is the most sun tolerant, I would pick the Sun Power Hosta.
Obviously, with a name like Sun Power, you’d expect it to be sun tolerant. And Sun Power is renowned for its capability to handle direct sunlight. In fact, it’s more yellow if planted with several hours of direct sun.
But plant names can be misleading. Sun Power isn’t much more sun tolerant than comparable varieties like Stained Glass or Piedmont Gold.
Unfortunately, they’re still not full-sun plants. Sun Power Hostas like sun more than most Hostas, but they’ll still burn up with all-day exposure.
How Do You Protect Hostas from Sun?
So, suppose you still really want to plant Hostas in an area that gets all-day sun. If this is the case, then I really haven’t solved your problem yet. BUT, I’m going to do my best to solve it right now.
There are three really solid ways to overcome a challenge like this: shade cloth, garden decorations, and other plants.
1. Shade Cloth
Shade cloth is my least favorite way of protecting plants, but ironically, it’s probably the most effective.
You suspend this cloth over the area that you want to plant your Hostas in. It has small holes in it that let sunlight pass through, but it greatly decreases the severity of it. It works great.
My problem with it is that it looks unnatural in the landscape. You have to put up posts to attach it to, and it can look very out of place.
But there are ways to make it aesthetically pleasing. For instance, if you have a pergola or arbour, you can attach the shade cloth to the top of it. It will be mostly hidden and it will provide some nice shade below it.
2. Garden Decorations
Garden decorations can provide excellent shade for your Hostas. Birdbaths, statues, garden lamps, whatever.
Strategically place them so that they’ll provide the best shade for your Hostas. If you put them to the West of your Hostas, it will shield them from afternoon sun. Put a more sun-tolerant plant on the other side of the object.
This serves a dual purpose because structures in the landscape can create harsh lines where the base of the structure meets the ground.
Adding plants, like Hostas, around the base will soften this transition between ground and structure. This creates a more seamless garden.
3. Other Plants
This is one of the simplest ways to give your Hostas some more shade. Plant them next to larger plants that like Full Sun.
In the picture above, see how well the Sago Palms shade the plants underneath them? These Palms drastically reduce the amount of all-day sun that the plants beneath them are exposed to. (Also, notice how they have a birdbath providing quality shade as well.)
There are so many great plants that you can do this with. Juniper trees, Gardenias, Hollies, Barberries, Crape Myrtles, and Boxwoods, to name a few.
Try to pick varieties that will provide adequate shade over time but that won’t crowd out the Hostas with their roots.
Plants Similar to Hostas That Like Sun
If all else fails and you conclude that Hostas are just not going to work where you want to plant them, you do have options. In fact, there are way more perennials that grow well in Sun than in Shade. They also tend to have more eye-catching flowers.
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
If you’re familiar with Coral Bells, you may be thinking “Wait a minute, they like shade too!” And that’s true. But Heuchera are quite adaptable. You can successfully grow them in full sun.
The most important thing that you MUST remember is to water them very regularly. Especially during the Summer and especially when they’re first planted. You may need to give them a healthy watering every other day if both of these things are true for you.
Coral Bells are similar to Hostas in the way that they have wide leaves that come in a huge range of colors and grow in a mounding fashion. They also send up flower spikes that are similar to Hosta flowers.
If some Hostas like sun, then Salvia must adore it. They’re excellent full sun plants.
They’re not remarkably similar to Hostas, but there are compact varieties that will accomplish similar things in the landscape.
One variety that comes to mind is Wendy’s Wish. It’s naturally compact and rounded in shape. It reblooms through the growing season with fantastic flower stalks.
Dwarf Hibiscus have nice large leaves and a rounded compact shape. They like full sun too. Their blooms are absolutely nothing like Hosta blooms, but wow are they stunning.
Star Roses and Plants has the Head Over Heels series of Hibiscus, including the Head Over Heels Blush Hibiscus. They’re pretty phenomenal. Their blooms are about 4 inches across.
Dwarf Canna Lilies
The last suggestion I have for you right now would be Dwarf Canna Lilies. They have plantain-like leaves similar to Hostas, but they grow more upright. They thrive in Full Sun.
They come in several colors: green, bronze, burgundy, reddish-purple, and everywhere in between. Their flowers are really remarkable and elaborate as well.
Wrapping Up: Which Hostas Like Sun?
Now you should know which Hostas like sun and how to work around their limitations in sunny exposures.
My recommendation is that you don’t push the envelope too much. If you do, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. Understand your Hostas’ limitations and set them up to succeed.
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Looking for more reading on Hostas? Did you know that Hostas are edible?!