Whether you are looking to redecorate your landscape or just enjoy hostas, the Guacamole Hosta is a great plant to learn more about.
The Guacamole Hosta is a beautiful, large, variegated foliage hosta variety bred in North Carolina that is great for adding a bit more green to a colorful garden. Its name comes from its leaf design that is mostly light green with dark green streaked edges—it looks like an avocado, hence its name “Guacamole.”
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Guacamole Hosta and how to care for it. You might want to get one of these lovely plants for yourself by the time you finish reading!
Guacamole hosta: The basics
Guacamole hosta is a large variety of hosta, typically growing about 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall. This variety has big oval-shaped leaves that end at a point at the bottom of the leaf.
The leaves typically are light green with a dark green edge and resemble an avocado. If the plant receives a lot of sunlight, the center of the leaf tends to become more golden in color. The dark green border can be less visible in cooler climates. Mature leaves are about a foot long and about 8″ wide at their widest point.
Hostas are frost-hardy perennial herbaceous plants that die back to their roots in the winter and emerge anew each spring. This plant grows to be about two feet tall, but it can range from one to three feet in height. When the hosta grows flowers, it can add about another foot to its height. The white flowers are bell-shaped, grow in clusters, and can sometimes resemble lilies.
The Guacamole Hosta was developed by Bob Solberg of Green Hill Hostas in Franklinton, North Carolina, and introduced in 1994. ‘Guacamole’ was a sport of the popular ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ bred by Kevin Vaughn.
Guacamole Hosta has since become one of the most popular hosta varieties in North America. The variety was named 2002 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Growers Association. A decade later, the Guacamole Hosta received the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2012.
Planting Guacamole hostas
Guacamole Hostas are generally sold as potted plants (as pictured above) or as dormant bare-root hosta plants. Potted plants are more convenient, but bare-root plants may be cheaper and more available (especially from specialty online-order nurseries).
Hostas grow best in nutrient-rich, slightly acidic fertile soil that is moist (not dry), but that drains excess water away easily. Typically, sandy loam soil enriched with organic compost is preferable. Hostas – even those with chartreuse leaves – grow best in sheltered locations, where the large leaves are protected from harsh afternoon sunlight, strong winds, and potentially damaging precipitation like hail.
The Guacamole hosta is well-known for its variegated foliage coloring, with a lime green center and dark green leaf edges. This leaf color is most pronounced when the Guacamole plant receives quite a bit of sunlight. While the plant should be protected from the harsh afternoon sun, the leaves grow surprisingly well in full sun during the mornings (and even in the afternoons in mild climates). Guacamole hostas can tolerate summer heat waves (even in the temperature range around 100°F (38°C), provided they have adequate water and shade.
Hostas are native to coastal Asia, where they grow in dense forest environments that receive significant rainfall. A good rule of thumb for watering hostas is to give them about 1” (25mm) of water each week. If the hostas receive this much rain that week, they likely don’t need to be watered, but any shortfall should be made up with supplemental watering. Try not to water the leaves of the Hosta, and instead apply the water directly to the soil overtop of the roots (drip irrigation works very well for hostas). Hostas should be watered the morning if possible.
In the autumn, mature leaves of hostas are somewhat frost tolerant. Established Guacamole hosta plants can survive light frosts down to about 28°F (-2°C), but the leaves will be killed by a hard frost. Because pests love to overwinter in the big wet leaves, it usually makes sense to cut these plants back in the fall rather than waiting for spring. These hostas require several weeks of winter chilling below 40°F (4°C), in which the plants become dormant and rest before spring.
Caring for the Guacamole hosta
Caring for most hosta plants is very easy. They can survive in drier or darker environments and typically need minimal care. So, let us take a look at what they need:
Light, water, and fertilizer
Unlike your typical hosta, this type of hosta prefers a bit of sunlight, as long as it has enough water. Morning sun is optimal, as mid-day and afternoon sun can be quite harsh. If a tree, cloud, house, deck, or fence ends up blocking the sun for a couple of hours, your plant will still be just fine. Just make sure that your plant does not spend all day in the shade.
When it comes to water, just make sure to water your Guacamole hosta regularly. Keep the soil damp and do not overdo it. This type of Hosta can survive for a few days without water. Established hostas are surprisingly drought tolerant (but you’ll have to water them regularly for the first couple years).
Typically, a hosta’s soil needs to have a ph of about 6.5 to 7.5—the Guacamole hosta can go as low as 5.5 for its ph. These plants should be kept fertile, so make sure to get some good plant food or compost to help them grow.
Considering these plants can grow up to three feet wide, they will need considerable space between them. On average, you will want to space these plants about 2-3 feet apart if planting multiples. Plan for a mature spread of about 4 feet.
In some cases, you may need to divide up your Guacamole Hosta plant so it has enough room to grow. Dividing a plant means that you may separate a section of the plant to grow elsewhere to prevent crowding. It is similar to grafting.
The best time to divide a Guacamole Hosta plant is late spring or early summer. The leaves of the hosta will be curled up and will not have bloomed yet. Since hostas usually bloom in a thick clump, you will need to get a knife to divide it. Simply cut down the middle of the hosta plant to divide it (here are detailed instructions). Replant the root pieces and water deeply.
These types of plants do not need year-round care, but they are perennials, so they will need prep before winter. Most gardeners choose to cut back hostas in the autumn to clean up the garden and prevent overwintering pests.
Spring is the best time to plant new hostas, with plenty of plant food, water, and sun to get it growing. Once it has some curled-up leaves sticking out, this is a good time to divide it if you wish to do so. While the plant is very young, make sure to keep weeds away from it. Over time, the plant will become big like a bush and weeds will not be much of a problem. Also, stay on the lookout for slugs and snails; they love eating hostas and will damage the stems and roots of the plant. Setting up a slug trap can help protect the Guacamole Hosta from slugs and snails.
By the summertime, these plants will be in full bloom. To keep the hosta looking pretty, cut back dead leaves and flowers. You can cut off the flowers completely if you want to keep your garden very green or not too flowery. These flowers generally attract butterflies and hummingbirds when left to blossom.
Once summer is over, it is time to prepare these plants for winter. Trim the plant down completely. You should only really see the small stems popping out of the ground—no more leaves or flowers. Next, you are going to want to put some hay or mulch on the ground to prevent heaving. Heaving is when the ground will constantly freeze and unfreeze, which can uproot the hosta.
By next spring, your Guacamole Hosta should be ready to flourish again.