The blue plantain lily has the most beautiful blossoms in the entire plantain lilies kingdom: the dark violet-blue bells stand in long racemes that appear really lush.
Profile of blue plantain lily:
Scientific name: Hosta ventricosa
Plant family: asparagus family (Asparagaceae), agave subfamily (Agavoideae)
Other names: –
Sowing time: spring, after frosts
Planting time: spring, after frosts
Flowering period: July to August
Location: semi-shady to shady
Soil quality: loamy, moderately nutrient-rich to nutrient-rich, humus rich, tolerates lime
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: single position, planters, under planting, Japanese garden, natural garden, potted garden, forest garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 (-26 °C / -15 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of blue plantain lily
Plant order, origin and occurrence of blue plantain lily
The blue plantain lily, botanically Hosta ventricosa, belongs to the subfamily of the agave family (Agavoideae) in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). It is probably one of two only types of hostas that come from China. Especially in the east of the country, it grows wild both in low-lying areas and in mountainous regions up to an altitude of around 2,400 meters (7,800 ft). Its preferred locations are moist, rather acidic and humus-rich soils in the shade of trees, but also grows on exposed northern slopes. Sometimes it can also be found in the temperate latitudes of North America, but these stocks are escaped. In Europe, the plants are said to have been cultivated since the end of the 18th century. In China, on the other hand, Hosta ventricosa has always been used medicinally and grown for consumption.
Characteristics of blue plantain lily
The perennial and herbaceous plant forms lush, up to 80 centimeters (32 in) wide clumps of about 60 centimeters (24 in) in height, at flowering it reaches up to one meter (40 in) in height. From autumn and over the winter, the perennials withdraw above ground, quite late in spring, only in April / May, they sprout again from the underground rhizomes. Like all hostas it grows relatively slowly.
The striking dark green leaves of the blue plantain lily, which shine strongly on the underside, are narrow at first and only broadly oval to heart-shaped and leathery with increasing age. They sit on stems up to 40 centimeters (16 in) long, winged and spotted in the lower part and can grow up to 30 centimeters (12 in) long and about 15 centimeters (6 in) wide. It is only after a few years that the wavy leaf margins known for the species and the clearly deepened, longitudinal leaf nerves develop.
Blue plantain lilyhave quite striking flowers that open in July and August in long, terminal racemes in dark blue to deep violet blue. 20 to 30 individual bells are hanging on each stem. The flowers do not smell.
Capsule fruits with black seeds form from the flowers.
Blue plantain lily – cultivation and care
The plants love partially shaded to shady, cool and rather humid places.
The soil in which Hosta ventricosa grows particularly well should be loamy-humic, not too low in nutrients, fresh to moderately moist, but not wet.
The stately blue plantain lily should best be planted as a solitary and with a planting distance of about 60 centimeters (24 in) from the neighboring plants. Since it is bought in a pot, it can theoretically go into the ground all year round. But wait in spring, due to the late shoots, until no more frost are being expected, which is from mid-May on. You do well a compost for planting.
Constant water supply is one of the fundamental factors of competent care for hostas. Do not let the soil dry out at any time of the year. Ideally, apply rainwater directly to the root disc. Do not pour the water into the plant heart, otherwise rotting will spread.
Fertilize the blue plantain lily with compost in March and June. A few handfuls of horn shavings provide the necessary nitrogen. Cultivated in a bucket, add a commercially available liquid fertilizer every 30 days from April to July.
Blue plantain lily, as many hostas, is in general very easy to care for. Even in the pot – but then with a little more attention-, especially when it comes to watering, is necessary.
The blue plantain lily can be split like all hostas and thus propagated. This is best done in spring. The pure variety can also be reproduced by sowing. To do this, just press the seeds into the soil, cover them lightly at most and keep them evenly moist at 20 °C / 68 °F. After the quick germination, cool down.
Diseases and pests
The biggest pests in terms of blue plantain lilies are nudibranchs, which especially seek for the delicate new shoots of the plants. Scatter slug pellets or keep the plants in pots, which reduces the risk. There is also a Hosta-specific virus with symptoms such as stunted growth and speckled leaves. Infested specimens can unfortunately only be disposed of with household waste.
Except in the year of planting, late frosts can hardly affect young shoots. If blue plantain lilys grow in the bucket, the root ball should not freeze and dry out. It is usually enough to put the vessels together in groups in front of a wall and place them on a warming base, for example made of polystyrene or wooden blocks.
Use in the garden
Hosta ventricosa is one of the few hostas, if not the only one, that impresses with both leaf and flower decorations. Handsome as it is, it is best used alone. From the shadow bed to planting on the edge of the wood, and combined with shrubs, ferns and grasses that can stand next to it. These include, for example, Chinese anemones (Anemone hupehensis), goatsbeard (Aruncus), ferns as e.g. Polystichum and rattle root (Cimicifuga). When planning in the bed, it is important to note that hostas are not on the spot until late spring, which is why it is best to fill these gaps with early-flowering plants such as winter aconite (Eranthis), crocus, snowdrops (Galanthus), yellow fumewort (Pseudofumaria lutea) or corydalis, which then withdraw when the hosta sprouts. Leaves and flowers of blue plantain lilyare also wonderfully suitable for cutting for the vase.
Only two types of blue plantain lily are offered.
With ‘Aureomaculata’, the leaves are adorned with yellow spots in the middle, which become more and more green towards summer.
Hosta ventricosa ‘Aureomarginata’, however, has dark green foliage with irregular white-yellow edges. Sometimes, especially when the plants are lighter or sunnier, whole leaves turn creamy white.