I don’t care what the tags say, don’t plant hostas in full sun. Yes, there are several, such as ‘Sum and Substance’, labeled for full sun, but resist, I beg you.
The hostas will likely fry. Just ask Karen Kennedy.
Over the last few years ago, Kennedy, former president of Marion County Master Gardeners, lost a maple, then a birch, then a dogwood, and then another maple in the yard. Storms, winter temperatures and other environmental factors caused their decline and eventual demise.
The loss of these trees exposes her beloved hostas to too much sun. A longtime member of the Indianapolis Hosta Society, Kennedy has dozens of the shade-loving perennials prized for their varied foliage, size and stalks (called scapes) of white or purple flowers, many of them fragrant.
She has a small yard on Indianapolis’ north side, so relocating plants to a better spot is not always an option. One alternative?
“I give them temporary shade, especially during July,” she said. She constructs an awning to cast temporary shade on the hostas left exposed by the felled trees. She’s also started planting trees, first up, a Japanese maple to re-create the shade.
Of course, she said you can water the heck out of hostas in full sun, but even at that, leaves will get singed along the edges.
Hosta-lover Kennedy snips off any leaves that get burned. Will the normal person do that? “Probably not,” she said. “It’s the difference between being a gardener and having a garden.”
Give ‘em a drink
There are plants that thrive in spring sunshine but once summer rolls around, they start to fade. Siberian bugloss (Brunnera spp.), Japanese painted fern and lady fern (Athyrium spp.) and lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) are three examples. Watering these perennials during dry spells will keep them from going dormant.
This is also a good time to pay attention to the late summer and fall blooming perennials. Mums, asters, toad lily (Tricyrtis spp.) and rudbeckias will soon be taking center stage, so attention to watering will help with their performance.