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Hosta Sum and Substance – Garden Design

Hosta Sum and Substance will visually dominate any space in the garden. Because of the major impact of Sum and Substance specifically (and most hostas in general), hosta can be a challenge in garden design.

Sum and Substance is a giant.

hosta sum and substance
Hosta Sum and Substance.

I find most people who include hosta in their gardens fall into two categories (I also had this thought when pondering the use of Japanese maples in the garden):

  1. Those who love all hosta with a passion.
  2. Those who are drawn to interesting plants, no matter the genus.  I tend to fall into the second category with hosta and into the first category with oakleaf hydrangeas.

This distinction matters because if you fall into the first category there is no arguing with you (and why would we?)…you probably have a garden built around hosta and this can be a beautiful thing. For the rest of us, hosta can be a tough go, as the large leaves, often showy foliage, and tropical bent of hosta can become a difficult design challenge.

Plant bold textures in the foreground

Our instinct with plants that have bold texture is to place them in the background, perhaps even obscuring parts of the plant with bits and pieces of other plants. I would recommend a different tactic when locating Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ and other bold textured plants in the garden…place Sum and Substance in the foreground. The eye will be drawn into and through the garden space, whereas if ‘Sum and Substance’ is planted in the background, the eye will quickly move through the garden to the beacon in the back.

Hosta Sum and Substance, sun, and leaf color

The aesthetic design considerations of Sum and Substance aside, I find that placing ‘Sum and Substance’ in the garden is an exercise in slight adjustments with relation to the sun (no small task with a large hosta).

Hosta Sum and Substance is most notable for the size of its leaves, but a close second is the color, chartreuse moving to golden. The issue is that the leaf color develops best with sun. Too much sun and the leaves burn. For best leaf color I reckon that sun in the morning but shade by noon or so is the best.  This is not an exact science, so I recommend you take careful note of the shade/sun patterns of the location you intend to plant Sum and Substance and do your best.

Growing Hosta Sum and Substance

Keeping hosta happy in your landscape should be no tough bill unless you are one of those people who insist on planting with complete disregard for the cultural needs of your plants. Mostly shade, average to good soil, water regularly the first year, and you are pretty much set when it comes to hosta.

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