Halcyon hosta

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Looking for a dreamy yet classic foliage plant to add some depth to your garden? The Halcyon hosta is most certainly worth a look!

The Halcyon hosta is a shade-tolerant perennial plant known for its beautiful heart-shaped dusky blue-green leaves. This medium-sized variety grows to about 40″ wide and 18″ tall. It has matte pointed leaves and grows best in partial shade and rich, well-drained soil. Halcyon Hosta is often used for breeding new hosta varieties of medium-sized blue hostas.

In this article, we will go through some of the different aspects of the lovely Halcyon Hosta, including what it looks like and how to take care of it.

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Halcyon hosta (shown on the left, with the solid grey-blue-green leaves)

Halcyon hosta basics

The Halcyon Hosta was developed in the UK by Eric Smith in the 1970s as part of his popular Tardiana group and introduced through the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society (BHHS) in 1988. Halcyon remains one of the most popular types of hostas worldwide and is also a popular cultivar for breeding new hosta varieties.

The Halcyon Hosta has heart-shaped blueish leaves. However, sometimes they can be narrow and spear-shaped as well (particularly when the plants are young). The leaves are smooth, flat, and have a fairly thick texture with a waxy coating. There is a variegated version with golden leaves and blue edges called June hosta, which was developed as a tissue-cultured sport of Halcyon.

Halcyon Hosta plants are medium-sized for hostas. They typically grow to be about 18 inches tall and can spread out to be anywhere between 36 to 42 inches wide. They can grow to be fairly large, and have dense foliage. Halcyon sometimes doesn’t grow as quickly as other types of Hosta, and it will take several years for it to completely mature and reach its full shape. That said, this variety is particularly easy to grow and is also well-suited to growing in a container.

Halcyon hosta has bell-shaped pale lilac flowers. The flower stalks grow to be about 2 feet tall from the base of the plant. These scapes and little flowers will appear sometime in the late summer and will bloom for a period of about 3 weeks, often in June or July.

How to plant Halcyon hostas

Choose a planting location in partial shade, if possible. Halcyon Hostas can grow well in full shade, but they do need some light to photosynthesize. They also tend to prefer rich soil that is well-drained.

This plant does best when planted in a place where there is partial shade, as too much sun exposure will dry out the leaves and eventually harm the plant. If you choose to plant this hosta under trees, you will need to water it more to compensate for what the tree roots might take.

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 grow best in sheltered locations, where the large leaves are protected from harsh sunlight, strong winds, and potentially damaging precipitation like hail.

When you are planting more than one Halcyon hosta, each individual plant should be placed about 30 inches apart. That is the ideal spacing. The soil pH should be neutral – between 6.5 and 7.5 – but Halcyon Hosta can do okay in slightly higher ones; you just might want to find something you can put on your soil to help lower the pH there if it is higher.

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Caring for Halcyon hosta plants in the garden

Halcyon Hosta really needs almost no care once it is established and has started maturing. These plants are quite dependable on their own.

You will need to water the Halcyon Hosta regularly, weekly at least, or maybe even more if you live in a place with a lot of heat. 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 over top of the roots (drip irrigation works very well for hostas). Hostas are best done early in the morning (evening watering can encourage overnight slug and snail damage)

The plant can survive well in USDA zones 3 through 9, but it isn’t meant to grow in very warm climates or places with high levels of humidity. Hostas require several weeks of winter chilling below 40°F (4°C), in which the plants become dormant and rest before spring.

It’s also sensitive to cold and will succumb to the first hard freeze and not come back until spring has warmed up the ground quite a bit. The leaves of hostas are somewhat frost tolerant and can survive light frosts with air temperatures down to about 28°F (-2°C).

Halcyon hosta plants won’t need much fertilizer, but it might be a good idea to feed them some if your soil is poor or if you notice the hosta isn’t growing as well as it should. Halcyon Hostas are pretty slug resistant, but watch out for slugs and snails appearing around them because they can damage the foliage. It’s also prone to deer feeding as well.

If given enough light and the proper shade ratio, the brilliant blue leaf color will stay for most of the summer and stretch late into it. After the blooming season is over, cut off the flower stems. And any leaves that are discolored should be trimmed back or cut off back to the ground. Remove fallen and dead foliage in the fall to keep the ground clean and ready for spring. Read more about when to cut back hosta plants.

When propagating a hosta plant by division, do it in late summer or early spring. You can do this by digging up the plant and dividing it carefully using a spade or shears. Propagating in this way allows new stems to branch out and grow underground from the mother plant for a while and then pop up to make a new one. These plants can then easily be cut away and are ready to be transplanted somewhere else. Propagating by division improves the chances of success in this process.

Sunny halcyon
‘sunny halcyon’ is a bright lime-green sport of the original dark blue-green halcyon hosta.

Reasons to grow Halcyon hosta

  • They are very low-maintenance plants
  • They don’t cost much and are typically under $20
  • Dense foliage crowds out a lot of garden weeds
  • The flowers attract beneficial pollinators
  • They live a long time (Halcyon hosta can live for 30 years or more)

Similar hosta varieties to Halcyon hosta

Here are some other hosta cultivars with blue leaves similar to Halcyon hosta:

  • Blue Silver Hosta
  • Powderpuff Hosta
  • Tokudama Hosta
  • Winfield Blue Hosta
  • Goldbrook Grayling Hosta
  • Kiwi Blue Baby Hosta
  • Prarie Sky Hosta
  • Ultramarine Hosta
  • Silver Bay Hosta
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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.