Hosta of the Year in 2009, Earth Angel is one of the most beautiful sports of Blue Angel, with multi-colored leaves streaked in gold and several shades of green. / Rob Zimmer/Post-Crescent Media
COMING NEXT WEEK:
Addicted to coral bells? Next week, Iíll show you some of the newest and most beautiful, as well as tips on growing them, where to buy and more. Coral bells, and closely related plants such as foamy bells and others, are becoming highly collectible, with many fun, colorful new plants hitting the market.
Chat in real time with Yard MD columnist Rob Zimmer at 8 a.m. Mondays. He will be live on our website chatting about gardens and yards. This Monday, learn more about growing giant hostas.
On Twitter: Follow Yard MD on Twitter for the latest news, specials and unique plants and garden items Rob finds at garden centers throughout the area. If he spots something hot, you will be the first to know. Find him at: @YardMD
On Facebook: Enjoy and become part of the Yard MD community of passionate gardeners on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/yardmd
Among the most beautiful of all hostas, the Angel series of giant hostas features many plants with elegant form, leaf coloration, pattern as well as profusely blooming masses of fragrant flowers.
Each of these hybrid plants is a sport of the classic, giant hosta Blue Angel, one of the largest hostas ever produced, and now standard among hosta lovers and collectors. New hostas are created in two general ways. A sport is an offshoot, or new growth off of the parent plant that displays characteristics different from the parent. This could be an entirely different color, leaf pattern, streaks of white or yellow, or other differences. A seedling is an entirely new plant grown from seed from the parent plant that was cross-bred, either intentionally or naturally. Seedlings also often produce plants that look entirely different from the parent.
Blue Angel, with its elegant, cascading form and massive, heavily veined, pointed leaves, is a popular plant used by hybridizers for its steadfast blue color, huge size and leaf shape. Because of this, many beautiful and popular sports and seedlings have been developed by hosta growers from this huge plant.
Here are a few of these heavenly hostas to be on the lookout for if you are interested in collecting plants in this family of shade-loving giants. I am including a combination of easy-to-find cultivars as well as rare ones so that hosta lovers of all expertise levels can enjoy the challenge of seeking out these plants.
Plants in the Angel series of hostas become quite large, with one recorded specimen of Blue Angel recorded at 10 feet across! A more realistic and average size is 4-6 feet across and this can be expected within 3-5 years when given plenty of room in the garden.
My favorite of all hostas, Guardian Angel is already a classic, with giant leaves that are heavily misted with flecks of blue-green and bordered in a deep green and blue. Guardian Angel features leaves that are unusually twisted, with loose, wavy edges, an usual trait considering the parent plant features leaves that are flat and smooth along the edge.
Like others in the Angel series of hostas, Guardian Angel actually changes appearance throughout the growing season, emerging one color, then slowly transforming over the weeks and months of summer. In early spring, some of the leaves may emerge pure white in the center, with a thick, blue-green border. This white center slowly becomes flecked blue-green well into summer, with some leaves becoming almost solid-colored by the middle of July.
Angel Eyes is a very rare, alternate sport of Blue Angel that appears almost identical to Guardian Angel, though some growers consider it a separate plant.
This classic giant was awarded Hosta of the Year honors in 2009 for its massive, low-growing form and its elegant, streaked leaves in several shades of green, cream and yellow. Like Guardian Angel, the leaves of Earth Angel are more rounded and less pointed at the tip than the parent Blue Angel hosta.
Patience is a must for gardeners who wish to add this plant to their collection, as, like all hostas, Earth Angel takes a few growing seasons to really show its true colors. Young plants purchased at nurseries or garden centers look inconspicuous, with green leaves bordered in creamy yellow.
By the third year, however, the plant really begins to put on a show, with its leaves widening and beginning to streak heavily.
One of the most sought after sports of Blue Angel, Beckoning is another plant that transforms dramatically during the growing season. This massive plant, while slow growing, makes for a stunning specimen plant in the garden, especially during late summer.
Emerging solid green in spring, the leaves of this hosta slowly begin to change color in the center, first becoming lighter green, then creamy yellow, then a beautiful shade of light tan or white depending on how much sun is provided.
Beckoning is difficult to find compared to Earth Angel and Guardian Angel, as its rare beauty makes it a highly collectible plant.
Another beautiful member of the Angel series of hostas is this subtle giant that comes with two-toned leaves in deep green and darker blue. This plant features the same long, pointed leaves of Blue Angel, in a deeper green color. The green color of the leaf is overlaid with feathery deep, dark blue, creating the appearance of a shadow over the leaves. Each leaf is patterned differently, making this a unique and variable giant hosta.
One of the newest, and most sought after sports of Blue Angel is this heavily streaked hosta featuring leaves that give the appearance of marbling on the surface. Like its parent, the leaves of Confused Angel, named because its streaked and patterned leaves give the impression that plant is confused as to what color it wants to be, are long and pointed, with beautiful veining.
The leaves of this plant make it a highly sought-after plant, like most hostas that have streaked or marbled leaves. These hostas are prized by collectors who use plants with leaves streaked in white and yellow for breeding new varieties of plants. Breeding with streaked hostas increases the chance that the new seedlings will also be variegated.
Dream Maker is a similar, streaked sport of Confused Angel.
Another new sport of Blue Angel, this is the first to display uniform, variegated margins on the leaves. Flemish Angel, like its parent, grows to huge size with leaves that are deep, blue-green and thinly edged in creamy yellow to white. While Earth Angel shows similar variegation at a young age, the leaf form and coloration is completely different. The variegation on Earth Angel is concentrated heavily near the tip and its leaves are much wider, as well as more twisted and arched.
Fallen Angel is a another sport of Blue Angel that features leaves that transform over the growing season. The leaves emerge a solid grayish green that becomes more flecked and misted green as the weeks pass during spring and summer.
Gray Ghost is similar, though this plant is unusual in that its leaves emerge almost pure white, transforming slowly to green over the weeks and months leading into summer.
ó Rob Zimmer:920-993-1000, ext. 7154, firstname.lastname@example.org