White Hostas

White Hostas (An Explanation)

white hostas 'White Feathers' is a popular all-white emerging hosta

White hostas are seemingly magical plants. However, be wary if you ever come across one – no matter howe xperienced a gardener you are. Remember back in 8th grade when you learned about chlorophyll (that stuff plants use to convert sunlight into energy)? Well, plants can only use green pigmentation to create chlorophyll. This means that all white hostas, as beautiful as they are, must either develop green tissue, or they won’t survive.

However, do not be dismayed – there are some hostas that emerge entirely white, but will later develop green tissue as the season progresses. There can be many possible color combinations, as long as the hosta can produce and store enough energy for survival.

Partially-White Hostas

Partially-white hostas are probably the best way to go, should one be in search of a white hosta. Color changes are common in hostas. External factors such as sunlight and soil can affect the color, but more permanent variations are due to genetic mutations. ‘White Feathers’ (seen above) is a popular white hosta image. ‘White Feathers’ emerges white, but later streaks with green.

There are several ways to go when making decisions on how to purchase white hostas:

  • Viridescence: Emerge white or yellow and develop darker leaves.
  • Lutescense: Emerge with shades of green that turn to shades of white or yellow.
  • Albescence: Emerge in a shade of yellow-green and turn to near white.

Guardian Angel Viridesence Hosta
'Little Aurora' Hosta Celebration Hosta Albescense

Seen above are examples of viridescense (left), lutescense (middle), and albescense (right.)

Learn more about color variation in hostas.

Growing White Hostas

In order to determine the difficulty of growing white hostas, consider the ratio of white to green in the plant. As a general rule, the more white tissue there is, the more sensitive the plant and the more particular it will be about sunlight. Additionaly, white leaf tissue is often thinner, making it more susceptible to burning or melting-out.

Also, because the plants need to create their own food in a fewer number of days/weeks than green hostas, they’re noted to be slower-growing.


Medio or Marginal Variegation Hostas

Because hostas that emerge white can be difficult to nurture, consider placing hostas with strong white medio or marginal variegation habits in your garden. While medio and marginal variegation can occur with any hosta color, there are several white-variegated varieties that would make particularly stunning additions to any garden.

Medio variegation is when the variegation occurs in the center of the leaves (photos below).

‘Fire and Ice’ Hosta and ‘Fireworks’ Hosta are two excellent examples of medio variegation found in hostas.
Fire and Ice Fireworks Hosta

Marginal variegation is when the variegation occurs on the outsides of the leaves (photos below).

‘Blue Ivory’ and ‘Patriot’ are good examples of marginal variegation in hostas.

Blue Ivory Hosta Patriot Hosta