Different Hosta Varieties Explained

Hostas are perennials with large, beautiful leaves and colorful flowers. They are known for being an excellent shade plant and a staple for shade gardeners. Because of their recent popularity, hostas have become a favorite for breeders, resulting in a proliferation of varieties. The following sections are the different types of hostas available to you.


Different varieties of hostas have been developed to grow to different sizes with different sized leaves. Container size and soil nutrients will also effect the size of your hosta, but the type will give you a range to expect.

  • Giant hostas have leaves that are greater than 144 square inches and the plants are taller than 28 inches.
  • Large hostas have leaves that are 81 to 144 square inches and the plants reach a height of 18 to 28 inches.
  • Medium hostas have leaves that are 25 to 81 square inches and the plants reach a height of 10 to 18 inches.
  • Small hostas have leaves that are 6 to 25 square inches and the plants reach a height of 6 to 10 inches.
  • Miniature hostas have leaves that are 2 to 6 square inches and the plants reach a height of 4 to 6 inches
  • Dwarf hostas have leaves that are less than 2 square inches and the plants are no taller than 4 inches.

Leaf Shape

Above the size of the leaves was mentioned in relation to the type of hosta and the size of the plant. The shape of the leave is separate from its size and is defined by it's length to width ratio.

  • Oval – 2:1 or 3:2
  • Broadly oval – 6:5
  • Round – 1:1
  • Elliptical – 3:1
  • Lance-shaped – 6:1


The substance of the leaves is the rigidity. The greater the substance, the stiffer the leaves are. The less the substance, the more floppy the leaves are.

Leaf Color

Modern hostas come in a wide variety of leaf colors and combinations of colors. Variegated leaves, where the color at the edge or center is different, are very popular with gardeners.

  • Green: The least popular variety. They handle shade and sun depending on the intensity of the heat in the local environment.
  • Yellow: Less chlorophyll in the leaves creates a lighter, yellow color that ranges from pale to deep gold. These hostas are often very sensitive to sunlight and should be planted in the shade.
  • Blue: Highly prized. The color comes from a layer of wax that the plant develops on the leaves. The wax can easily be rubbed away or melted, so keep these hostas in the shade and away from activity.
  • Blue-Gray: These hostas are bluish without the wax of the blue leaved hostas. However, they are also very sensitive to light and the leaves will burn in the hot sun.
  • Blue-Green: Leaves are somewhere between blue and green. They tend to turn green as the leaves mature or if they spend time in the sun.
  • Gray-Green: Leaves have a distinctive gray tint when raised in the right environment rather than the rich green of the Green hostas.
  • Marginally Variegated: Leaves have a central color and an edge color with the center being darker than the edge. The breadth of the lighter section varies between varieties and the difference in color ranges from dark green with light green to yellow with white.
  • Medio-Variegated: The leaves are lighter in the center and darker at the edges. With the lighter centers these leaves have less chlorophyll and burn in the sun.
  • Marbled, Streaked, and Flecked: These hostas have leaves with multiple colors that are in random combination over the surface. Each leaf on a plant may be different.