If you go up to any group of gardeners and ask them if hosta flowers are beautiful or ugly, you’ll quickly find yourself in the middle of two sides. One side will claim that host flower spikes are beautiful while the other side will vehemently deny it.
Do you let them bloom or cut the spikes off? Do the flowers add to the plant’s overall look or do they make it look awkward and gangly? Is there anyone right answer to this endless debate? Hosta enthusiasts like me have strong opinions regarding hosta flowers, and I want to share them with you so you can see both sides and make an informed decision on your own.
Every hosta plant will grow flowers, and it can be a fancy affair. During the summer months, I look for my hostas to produce spikes of blossoms. They look a little like lilies, and white or lavender are popular colors. They have bell-shaped blooms that can be very fragrant and showy, and they attract a lot of hummingbirds and bees to my yard. Some newer cultivars give you up to 75 flowers on every stem, and they sit high above the lush mounds of foliage.
Now, I know you’re curious and want to know more about hosta flowers. I know I like to have all the facts before I make a decision, so read on to find out everything you need to know about hosta flowers and answer the age-old question, “To behead or let them bloom?”
Table of Contents
- When do Hostas Bloom?
- Are There More Colors of Hosta Flowers than Lavender?
- Unusual Hosta Flowers
- Fragrant Hostas
- Hosta Flower Scapes
- What Creatures Do Hosta Flowers Attract?
- Hosta Flowers as Decorations
- Hosta Flower Frequently Asked Questions
- So, Is it off with Their Heads or Let Them Bloom?
When do Hostas Bloom?
When your hostas bloom will depend largely on the type of hosta you have. On one hand, this is nice if you’re someone who likes hosta blooms and wants to stagger the bloom time from the spring to the fall. On the other hand, if you’re someone who doesn’t like the flowers, this can be a hassle to go out and deadhead the spent flowers several times throughout the growing season.
Generally speaking, you can divide hostas up into early blooming and late blooming species. If you’re like me and you live in a cooler northern climate, early-blooming hosta varieties will start in mid-June before going into early July. Later-blooming and more fragrant hostas bloom in August until the first frost.
Early Flowering Hosta Examples
- Abbey Road
- After Midnight
- Five O’Clock Shadow
- Frost Giant
- Dark Horse
- Green Ripples
Late Flowering Hosta Examples
- Fragrant Bouquet
- Carolina Keepsake
- Honey Do
- Marilyn Monroe
- Old Faithful
- Silver Moon
How Long do Hostas Bloom?
Hosta flowers will bloom around three weeks from the first spike of flowers until they die back. Depending on the cultivar, this can start as early as May and go as late as September. During the blooming season, you’ll get spikes of flowers in a host of different colors.
The flowers sit above the mounds of glossy leaves, and many people think it creates a nice ornamental look. The blooming time for these flowers is so short because each bud will only last for a single day before it dies back and turns brown. So, it’s easy to have new and dying or dead flowers on the same stalk if you’re not quick enough to get rid of them.
Do all Hostas Flower?
Yes, every hosta plant will grow flowers if they have the correct growing conditions and enough nutrients. Some people see hosta flowers as a fancy way to add height with a little color to the shaded areas of their yard while other people see them as a distraction from the lush foliage’s coloring and look.
There are some hosta cultivars and species that are re-bloomers. This means that they can bloom more than one time during a growing season. This is particularly true if you make a point to go out and cut the first flush of scrapes off right to the ground level after they flower for the first time. They won’t bloom again on the same scrape, so the plant will have to grow a new one.
Are There More Colors of Hosta Flowers than Lavender?
I like looking at the softer lavender color that seems to dominate most hosta plant coloring, but there are other colors available. White and purple are the other two extremely popular flowers, and some hosta enthusiasts will even breed the purple flowered hostas to get darker coloring.
Hostas with White Flowers
I love splashes of white in my shady areas of the yard, and the white flower spikes can help offset some of the darker colorings on the plant’s foliage. Hosta plantaginea is one white flowered hosta that grows flowers that are an impressive six inches long. They’re pure white, and they like to open during the early afternoon hours around four pm. Other white flowered hostas include:
- August Lily
- Fragrant Bouquet
- Royal Standard
Hostas with Purple Flowers
Most of the purple flowers on hostas are a very, very light lavender coloring. Hosta enthusiasts typically call purple flowered hostas dark flowered hostas. You can get them in a range of purple hues, but lighter lavender is the most popular. A few hostas with purple flowers include:
- Fragrant Blue
- Sweet Susan
- Fragrant Queen
- Bachelor Party
Yes, There Is a Yellow Flowered Hosta
Surprisingly enough, there is a yellow flowered hosta you can add if you want a slightly brighter pop of color. I like how it looks when I put it next to hostas with darker foliage because the color really pops.
The Miracle Lemony Hosta has a lighter, creamy yellow coloring with brighter green foliage and textured leaves. This newer hosta also emits a light fragrance that can attract hummingbirds. It can get between 12 and 14 inches tall, and it’ll bloom in the midsummer months.
Hostas with Red Flowers
There are no true hostas with red flowers. However, hosta enthusiasts have created hybrids that have a reddish-hue on their flowers or soft red streaks surrounded by white. The Black Cat, Edgar Allen Poe II, Premature Burial, and Crime and Punishment are examples of hostas with a red hue or stripes to the flower.
Hostas with Blue Flowers
Just like with the red hosta flowers, there are also no true blue flowers. There are a few rumored hybrids out there that have very pale purple-blue coloring to them. It’s a periwinkle shade, and you can find it under Lederhosen Hostas. Oshima Silk and Winfield Blue are also reported to have purple-blue flowers.
Unusual Hosta Flowers
While it’s true that many hostas are one color throughout, some are rumored to have a picotee edge to them. All this means is that the petals come with a darker margin to the inner coloring, and this can help offset the flowers a little more.
So, you could have a light lavender coloring with a darker purple coloring running along the edges. Awakening Angel, Fresh Prince, Beyond Glory, Otter Point, Old Glory, and Glory are all examples of hosta flowers with a picotee edge.
Another unusual type of hosta flower is the closed-edge variety. What this means is that the flowers don’t open up like normal hostas. Instead, you get the normal flower spike with small rounded balls along it that sit atop the plant. A few examples of this type of hosta would be Tiny Bubbles, Paper Lantern, Purple Lady Fingers, Saketini, and Ruby.
During the 1980s, the Hosta plantaginea was imported into the United States and it was wildly popular for the double flowers it produced. It’s also a very fragrant plant, and each bud has a very full look due to the extra petals. Examples of this type of hosta include Aphrodite, Karen’s Delight, Poseidon, Royal Oyster, Peacock Feathers, and Yea.
Finally, you can get spider-flowered hostas. These hostas grow very narrow-petaled flowers with a tight funnel shape. Most of these hostas come related to yingeri and laevigata. The flowers are unique, but they can be underwhelming. If you want these types of flowers, plant Academy Mirkwood, Gentle Spirit, Lily Pad, Quill, or Whisky Sour hostas.
Although it may have gone out of style for a few years, fragrance is making a big comeback in today’s gardens. I know I love walking out in my yard and smelling all of the sweet scents the flowers give out, and the pollinators like bees and hummingbirds love it too!
Currently, there are over 250 different types of fragrant hostas available at a rough estimate. It’s difficult to say how many there really are, but you’re spoiled for choice. If you’re like me, you can mix and match colors and hues with different fragrances to create a paradise for any pollinators around your yard or garden. A few types of fragrant hostas include:
- Iron Gate Delight
- Summer Fragrance
- Emily Dickinson
- Warwick Essence
Hosta Flower Scapes
Better known as flower spikes, these are the parts of the hosta that grow up from the middle of the plant and form the flowers. They do add height to your landscape, but they can also distract from the pretty hosta foliage, depending on which side of the debate you fall on.
The flower scapes do draw some of your plant’s energy away from the foliage, but they can produce larger and fragrant blooms. There are a few different flower scapes to consider when you’re picking out your hosta flowers.
Branched Flower Scapes
If you’re looking for a fuller look in your garden, branched flower scapes give you multiple flower branches that can give you that larger and fuller floral display. This can create a more even look that I love, and it also gives the scrape a fuller look when the plant blooms.
The flowers come in lavender and white shades, and the scrapes can grow to be up to 30 inches tall while being slightly thicker to make them more sturdy.
Fascinated Flower Scapes
If you end up with a fascinated flower scrape, this is a fancy way of saying that it has abnormal growth. The flowers will come from a single growing point (usually on the top of the stem) instead of growing along the sides of the stem.
You’ll also usually get a wider and flatter scape than normal, and it can produce more flowers than you thought it would. This type of scape could come from a plant that is stressed or trying to thrive in abnormal growing conditions.
Short Flower Scapes
Maybe you don’t want a towering flower scape over your hosta’s foliage. If not, you can check into species that have short flower scapes. They’ll usually grow to be less than a foot high at full maturity, and the flowers stay closer to the foliage in general. This can help give you hosta flowers a fuller and more cohesive look, and it’s nice to have when you’re limited on space.
Tall Flower Scapes
Normally, a lot of hostas varieties produce taller scapes that can sit over two feet above the plant itself. One plant can grow several scapes, and each scape will produce flowers. This can add a showy or ornamental look to your garden or yard, but they only last for a day before you’re left with bare scapes. You can leave them for height or cut them back if you have a species that will rebloom to encourage new growth.
Whorled Flower Scapes
Finally, you have whorled flower scapes. These hosta flowers will wrap around the stem when they bloom to create a whorled look. In turn, you can get a very balanced and even look to your plant when it blooms, and it can also help the scape look fuller until the flowers die off. They come in lavender and white flowers in varying sizes.
What Creatures Do Hosta Flowers Attract?
One bonus for keeping hosta flowers and not beheading them is that they can attract pollinators to your yard. These pollinators are good for all of your plants, and they can help to ensure that your plants live on. I like to sit and watch the bees and hummingbirds bustle about when all of my plants are in bloom.
Bees love hosta flowers, especially the more fragrant varieties. If you have a sunny vegetable or flower garden, hostas give the bees a cool and safe spot to feed and rest. The hosta blooms will also encourage the bees to come in and pollinate your other plants or vegetables.
Hosta varieties that have larger leaves will catch and hold water drops in the flower folds or on the leaf surface. These drops of water are an excellent way for birds to rehydrate as they move around your yard. Additionally, birds like to eat the hosta seed heads, so they’ll move from plant to plant.
Hummingbirds add a cheerful element to your yard or garden, and they’re very attracted to hosta flowers (or any flowers for that matter!) While hummingbirds can go for any flower, they like funnel or bell-shaped flowers the best because they have slender, long beaks and tongues that fit down into the plant to get at the nectar. This is a great food source that will keep them around your yard as long as your plants are blooming.
Hosta Flowers as Decorations
You can use hosta flowers and scapes as decorations. The hosta’s leaves come in a broad range of colors, textures, and sizes, so it makes beautiful greenery for flower arrangements. Also, the foliage looks wonderful by itself in a bowl or vase of water on your table as a centerpiece. They’ll last for a surprisingly long time if you keep the water levels up.
To decorate with the hosta flowers, cut the scape when there are only two flowers open. You can place them in a vase of water or in a flower arrangement. They’ll slowly open and provide you a showy decorative element over the next two weeks. Once the blooms fade, gradually snip off the scape to keep the rest of the flowers healthy and let them continue to open.
To keep your cut hosta foliage or scapes looking nice for as long as possible, top of the water levels every other day or so. You don’t want it to run dry. You can add a food packet to the water to encourage them to last longer, but you want to be careful when it comes to adding nutrients like a fertilizer. Nutrients can produce bacteria that block the flower stem.
So, when in doubt, add flower food. There is sugar and a bactericide in the flower food that will help you feed your plants while prohibiting bacteria growth. Floralife and Chrysal are great brands that give your hostas a nice balance of nutrients and bactericide.
Hosta flowers are edible, but they have a very bland taste to them. They are toxic to dogs and cats, but people can eat them without a problem. They’re commonly used as a very colorful garnish in salads or on the side of your plate.
Hosta Flower Frequently Asked Questions
Which parts of the hosta are edible?
You can eat the entire hosta plant if you want, and it has a taste similar to asparagus with a bitter edge. The flowers and buds do well as garnishes, or you can fry them or eat them fresh. The curled leaf shoots are edible too.
How do you cut the flower scapes off?
If you decide you’d rather behead your hostas, you can cut the scapes off right to the ground with a pair of clean shears. You can either wait until the hosta flowers have started to die back, or you can cut them off before they flower for a neater look.
Are all hostas fragrant?
No. Some cultivars are very fragrant, but other types of hosta flowers don’t have any scent at all. Make sure to look for fragrant varieties if you want to attract pollinators like birds or bees to your yard.
So, Is it off with Their Heads or Let Them Bloom?
At the end of the day, this all comes down to personal preference. If you want my opinion, I say that beheading them isn’t a bad idea if you have a sea of purple, lavender, or white flower spikes in your hosta garden because it can distract from the beautiful foliage.
If you end up with very fragrant and striking flowers, let them bloom until they start to die off and then cut the flower scapes down to the ground. The Hosta Society recommends cutting the scapes when the flowers start to die so the plant can invest this energy into growing the foliage and staying healthy.