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Hosta Substitutes

by Barry Landry (cajunbarry)

Ligularia / Farfugium (below) - a good hosta alternative for subtropical climates

Alternatives to Hostas for Hot Dry Climes

Here in the Texas Hill Country the hot and dry climate is not conducive to growing hostas. Add the element of slugs, snails and pill bugs and one can find it near impossible to grow these beautifully - foliaged plants here in the southwest region. Some good plant choices to substitute in USDA 8 and greater include caladiums, Drymiopsis, Acanthus, Aspidistra (especially variegated varieties), calla lilies and Ligularia (Fugarium) to name a few. An excellent resource for information about Texas and southwest regional drought-tolerant plants and specifically "woody lilies" (Yuccas, Nolina, sotol, agave, Manfreda, etc.) is Peckerwood Botanic Gardens and Yucca do nursery located in Hempsted, Texas. The proprietors of the nursery are conservationists who take frequent trips to Mexico to find new plants and to aid in the preservation of wild species where they find them by only collecting seeds, etc. and propagating new plants at their facility. I realize that the alternates above are not really the same as the elegant beauty that hostas possess, but in hot dry climates there aren't many plants to chose from other than being creative with what we have to garden with. Besides, gardeners are a group of folks who are constantly "pushing the envelope" to prove to the world that it can be done, regardless of who says it is impossible to do. One other mention is the "King of Hostas", Tony Avent, and his incredible nursery Plant Delights. Not only does Tony breed hostas, but he collects and tests them in his growing grounds before offering to the public. Another cool thing about the nursery's offerings is that there are many plants they grow that can be used as alternatives to hostas. The catalogue and Tony's writing are a true delight. Happy Gardening! Barry Appleseed References:


hosta substitute, Hostas, woody lilies, agave, manfreda, nolina, caladium, aspidistra


Great topic! I was a "collector" in my Zone 7 Atlanta garden. I love hosta. I had some really awesome ones that I hated leaving when I moved! My husband and I have had many conversations about what might be a substitute here in Florida. We couldn't really find anything quite the same, but over the years, we've pretty much observed bromeliads, ti plants, and Amazon lilies kind of fill the bill.
Daylilyjoy commented on 10/14/09
Fine Gardening&#x27;s latest print issue (October 2009) has an interesting and colorful survey-results article about reader&#x27;s favorite shade plants per region. Hostas fared well in the survey, but it may be surprising to some what shade plants are becoming popular for the upcoming gardening runway 2010. <br/> <br/>For instance, the Northeast regional &#x27;winner&#x27; was Golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra &#x27;Aureola&#x27;), whilst the favorite plant for shade by popular vote in southern California is &quot;Coleus&quot;. Move over hostas...
cajunbarry commented on 07/24/09
Don&#x27;t forget cannas and bananas for vividly colorful warm-weather foliage.
cajunbarry commented on 07/15/09
What a cool plant! In Seattle, I&#x27;ve been using hostas as a tropical accent plant. Being from New England, I always think of hostas as plants in a traditional perennial border... but under my palms in the courtyard, they take on a whole new look! Still miss all the cool plants that work here and not there though!
chief cultivator commented on 07/15/09
Thanks for the info! It&#x27;s always nice to have another suggestion for the garden. I might have to take a field trip to check out those nurseries!<br/>
gardengirl commented on 07/15/09