Friday, August 26, 2011

What's that smell? Fragrant Hostas?!

I am away from the Red House and visiting an artist's garden in New Jersey today.  Walking through the cool, shaded garden paths, I smell something that stops me in my tracks.  It is a waft of sweet floral perfume, rather like honeysuckle.  I look around - no honeysuckle here.  In fact the only blossoms nearby are... white blooms of hostas?  Holey slugbait, there are fragrant hostas?!

Apparently there are!  Why did I not know about these earlier?  Radhika, the owner and tender of this garden, has a whole walkway lined with these deliciously fragrant hostas, making the scent more noticeable.

One has to lean in to get a full heavenly whiff, as the smell does not seem to carry very far.

Radhika does not know what variety of hosta this is, but apparently all fragrant hosta cultivars come from the same granddaddy, Hosta plantaginea.  Often called an 'August lily', this hosta blooms later in the summer than other kinds and has large 6" long white flowers.  It can also continuously produce new leaves during summer as opposed to sending out all of its leaves in one spring flush like most other types.
The flowers of the unknown hosta in this garden are about 3" or 4" long, and the buds have lavender tips.

According to Tom Carlson with Hostas Direct, deer prefer to eat the fragrant varieties of hostas before the non-fragrant ones - apparently they are sweeter.  (Wonder who did the taste test to determine that?)
The bees seemed to love these hostas.  They are reputed to be a magnet for hummingbirds as well.

For more information on fragrant hostas and a list of available cultivars, Tony Avent of the renowned Plant Delights Nursery has a great fragrant hosta article.  There are varieties with purple flowers, as well as ones with variegated leaves.

And if anyone knows which specimen this is, be sure to let me know!


  1. Dear Indie, This is a great posting! Good information; nice pictures. I didn't know there were fragrant hostas. Thanks for all the links -- I look forward to learning more about them. P. x

  2. Thanks, Pam! I look forward to learning more about them, too :)

  3. The bees obviously find them fragrant too. I have never noticed a scent from my hostas so I may have to search these ones out.


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