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What Kind Of Light Does A Hosta Need?

Hostas are wonderful plants that deserve to be in every garden. However, due to objective reasons, it is not possible to grow them everywhere. In this article, you will find out what is the best preference for these plants.

The hosta needs a dappled shade to thrive. This is a kind of light in which a large part of the sunlight is reflected and only a small part of it reaches the leaves.

This type of sun exposure can be achieved by planting the hosta under a tree with a not very dense crown. For example, some conifers are suitable for this purpose. This is the reason why coniferous plant collectors usually also have a large collection of hostas.

You can also achieve a similar kind of light by placing a shade net above the hostas that reflects more than 50 percent of the UV rays. It’s a bit of a hassle but definitely worth it.

hostas sun or shade

The hosta grows in dappled shade.

If you plant a hosta in a dappled shade you won’t have to worry about too much or too little sunlight. The hosta will get enough light to have beautiful leaves, and this is particularly true of the yellow and golden varieties.

However, dappled shade is not the only type of light in which hostas can grow. In the following, I will tell you all the possible cases and what they lead to.

Can hostas handle shade?

Hostas can handle the shade. For most varieties, full shade is the most suitable planting location.

However, you should distinguish between full shade and total darkness. There is plenty of light in full shade, but it is light reflected but not direct. At the same time, total darkness is when there is almost no light.

Full shade is a place under a tree canopy or behind tall buildings. Such places are good for growing hostas.

However, places with no direct sunlight at all are hard to find, so your hostas are likely to get 1 to 2 hours of direct sun a day in the morning or evening, and this is perfectly normal.

Read more: How Much Shade Does A Hosta Need?

hosta light requirements

The hosta grows in full shade.

Keeping in the shade

In the shade, you need to worry a lot less about watering your hostas. The soil in the shade will dry out much slower except under the trees. You will have to water your hostas quite often under the trees.

Also, in a shady spot, the air is usually quite humid so the leaves will suffer less from cracking. However, you have to keep an eye on the health of the hosta because fungal diseases develop best in humid locations.

In full shade, slugs and snails will bother your plants much more often. To solve this problem, use traps, and iron phosphate.


Blue hosta varieties feel best in full shade. They do not need even a minimum amount of direct sunlight. Moreover, even 1-2 hours of direct sunlight can make them pale green and they will lose their bright blue color.

The most common shade-loving variety is Blue Cadet. It is a small-sized hosta that at maturity usually does not exceed 2 feet across. It has medium-sized leaves with a blue tint and sharp tips. It’s a bit like the Blueberry Muffin Hosta variety. 

The second variety is Blue Arrow. This hosta has narrow, sharp, green-blue leaves. It is a very interesting variety that, like the previous one, is small in size.

And finally, October Sky is one of the best shady locations. This hosta has wonderfully rounded leaves with a very interesting texture. The color of the leaves is almost blue with a grayish-white waxy cover. 

Read more: Tips On The Care Of Hostas

Full sun

Hostas can’t be in direct sun all day. Hostas are shade-loving plants and cannot tolerate much direct sunlight, especially in hot climates.

In full sun all day, the hosta will get regular sunburn. The leaves will have large holes with a brown edge.

Also, the leaves will not have their natural coloring. The color will be pale and burned out. Green varieties will have large yellow areas on the leaves. Yellow varieties will be almost white.

All the hosta can tolerate is partial direct sun. 1-4 hours of morning sun per day but no more. Yellow varieties can tolerate a little more direct sun than green and blue varieties.

The more southerly the fewer sun hours the hosta can tolerate. Conversely, the further north you go, the more sun you can give them.

Read more: Can hostas be in full sun?

what kind of light does a hosta need

This hosta gets too much sun.

How to keep hostas in partial sun

In order to be successful in growing hostas in partial sun, you need to take care of the watering. During the hot months, check how moist the soil is as often as possible. Don’t let the soil dry out more than two to three inches.

When the heat subsides, watering can be reduced. Also, avoid watering hostas during the winter months.

The second thing to do is mulch the root zone. The mulch will prevent the soil from overheating. Also, mulched soil is much slower to dry out.

A layer of mulch should be about 2 inches thick. Use only organic materials such as wood chips or compost.

Sun damage

Very often, hostas that grow even in the partial sun can be damaged. An obvious sign of this is large holes with a brown edge.

If you encounter this, the first thing to do is water the hosta with 1-2 gallons of water. This will give it some relief, but avoid watering it too often and too much.

Next, you need to install shade over the hosta. The easiest way is to put an umbrella over the shrub. Next spring, transplant it to a more shady location.

For more on this issue, see How To Fix Hosta Scorch?


One of the best varieties for the partial sun is Tom Schmid. It is a large variety that has large, elongated, and sharp leaves. The leaves are gray-green with a white edge.

Next is Alex Summers which is medium-sized. The leaves of this variety are also narrow and very sharp. The leaves are bright green with a yellow edge. A very interesting and sun-hardy hosta.

Gold Standard should also be mentioned. This cultivar has beautiful leaves that are bright yellow in color with a narrow green edge. However, it will not turn yellow in full shade, so it needs 2-3 hours of direct sun a day to look great.

Read more: What causes slits in hosta leaves?