Growing miniature hostas in containers

By Elin E. Johnson

Do you have a small yard? Do you think hostas are pretty? If so, you should grow miniature hostas in containers. There are many to choose from, and as long as they are in a shady spot, they are perfectly happy in containers.

Containers with small hostas can be placed among ferns and other perennials.

When I first became aware of the “little ones” there were only a few available. But over the past 20 years, many miniature hostas have been introduced. They are so popular that they have their own category in the annual popularity survey conducted by the American Hosta Society.

‘Mini Skirt’ is my favorite little hosta.

Many of the little ones are descended from H. venusta, a tiny green hosta. The Hosta Journal had an article about this species in a recent issue, and it noted that venusta is from the Latin word venustus, meaning beautiful and graceful. It is “only found on Jeju Island off the southern coast of Korea and on adjoining Chinese land areas to the north.” Several of the cultivars mentioned in the article are ones I have grown: ‘Tiny Tears’, ‘Masquerade’, and ‘Imp’. Two of them were developed by Mary Chastain, and are favorites of mine: ‘Lakeside Neat Petite’ and ‘Lakeside Miss Muffet’. These two are actually classified as “small” rather than “mini,” but they are just as lovely in containers. 

This trough contains a tiny green H. venusta and the variegated ‘Pixie Vamp’ and ‘Cherish’.
A variegated boxwood accompanies ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Lakeside Dimpled Darling’.

The 2008 Hosta of the Year, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, was the first little hosta to be chosen for that honor. It is a unique little hosta with heavily textured, rounded blue leaves and it is currently Number 1 in the mini hosta popularity poll. It’s a good grower with a mass of lavender blossoms. It arrived on the hosta scene with a bang, and now it has many descendants, referred to as the “mice.” They range from minis to small; some are variegated types, others blue and green, and one, ‘Church Mouse’, has ruffled leaves. I have it in my collection, as well as ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’, ‘Snow Mouse’, ‘Sun Mouse’, and ‘Mouse Trap.”

Pots with different sizes of hostas can be displayed on shelves.

The first little hosta I bought was ‘Ginko Craig’, and not long after that, I added ‘Chartreuse Wiggles’, which is still one of my favorites. I planted them among my other hostas and thought they looked pretty. But there were two problems:

1. The slugs and snails had easy access to them on the ground.

2. The other, larger plants quickly overwhelmed them.

Back left is ‘Lakeside Ninita’ and back right is ‘Orange Marmalade’. In the middle of the hypertufa trough is ‘Little Treasure’ and three ‘Snow Mouse’ hostas are planted along the edge.

So I found it best to dedicate a special bed in your garden for the little ones or grow them in containers. It is so much fun to compose a bowl of little hostas and companions. Pretty rocks, miniature conifers, small figures, and other miniature plants are all great candidates. Fairy gardens are very popular right now, and local garden centers are stocking many cute items that can be used to compose adorable scenes. Children love these little gardens! A 16-inch bowl can hold three plants – mini hostas or companions. Make sure that the plant(s) you choose to accompany your hostas are also tiny. Dwarf lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Minutissimum’) are excellent companions, as well as dwarf conifers.

Chartreuse Wiggles’ has lovely narrow wavy gold leaves. The blue hosta is ‘Serenity’, and this combination is accompanied by a dwarf spruce (Picea spp., cvs.).

It is not necessary to bring your hostas in for the winter. They overwintered in their pots in my garden just fine. Making sure they are watered regularly is the only special attention they require. Try one or two of these little ones – I’d be willing to bet that you will love them, too.m 

‘Lakeside Neat Petite’ is lovely when in bloom.

Resources: – pictures and description of all registered hostas – The American Hosta Society
The Book of Little Hostas by Kathy Guest Shadrack and Michael Shadrack

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