Plant of the Month – October, 2007
At a Glance:
Latin Name: Hosta ‘Invincible’
Common Name: Hosta
Flowers: spikes of lavender bells
Foliage: large, waxy, dark-green leaves to 12″
Hardiness: perennial throughout Texas
Height: 24 inches
Soil: well-drained with added organic matter
Water Usage: frequent
Sources: Local retailers or Internet
Many of us are seduced by the wonders of hostas. There is only one other perennial with such a large group of cultivars and collectors: daylilies Hemerocallis.
But, unlike daylilies, not all hostas do well in Texas. Matter of fact, some are just plain terrible for us. Unfortunately, like so many other plants that do well in northern states, many varieties of this plant are not adapted to our tough Texas climate. Some fry in our hot temperatures, others are unable to withstand even momentary drought, and many just don’t hold up well to our long summers.
In an attempt to find the best varieties for Texas, the Ralph Pinkus Hosta Garden was created at the Dallas Arboretum. Mr. Pinkus was one of the first people to introduce hostas to Texans, along with many other plants.
Many different varieties of hosta have been trialed in this garden and continue to be added yearly. One variety that has shined from the beginning is hosta ‘Invincible.’ This solid-green variety initially didn’t impress me. Who would want a green plant, when you can have yellow or white variegated or blue varieties? Well, as I have watched this plant over the seasons, my opinions have definitely changed. In fact, I like it so much, I bought some for my own garden!
So, what makes this plant special? First of all, it looks great from late April right up until first frost. ‘Invincible’ truly lives up to its name. This is one of the few hosta varieties that doesn’t get leaf burn or crisp around the edges during our hot summer. The dark, glossy-green foliage looks as if it has been polished and waxed. The shiny foliage shows up well in the shady conditions it prefers. If you pay close attention to the leaves, you’ll see why they hold up so well. They are much thicker and heavier than most other cultivars.
‘Invincible’ grows quickly to form 2-foot-wide and -tall clumps of large, overlapping leaves of polished jade. In mid-summer, 2-foot-tall spikes of fragrant, lavender, lily-like flowers appear and persist for a month. Finally, in fall as the plant prepares to go dormant for winter, the foliage turns a nice autumnal gold.
In Texas, all hostas prefer shade under deciduous trees and must have protection from hot afternoon sun. Although they are shade plants, I do not recommend planting them in the darkest corners of the yard or under thick canopies of live oaks. For best growth, amend the soil heavily with organic matter and mulch with compost two times a year. Hostas are extremely cold-tolerant, so don’t worry about them freezing during winter. Slugs are the most common pest you will see, and contrary to some claims I’ve heard, I have yet to find a hosta variety they don’t love! A good application of slug and snail bait has worked well for me when problems appear.
Hosta ‘Invincible’ has done so well for me and has only continued to improve yearly. I can’t imagine why it is not more prevalent in Texas landscapes. ‘Invincible’ is by no means a new variety – it was patented in 1989. This year, I am adding new varieties to our trial program that were bred from this cultivar, in hopes of finding others that do equally well for us.
You can see this hosta in person at the Ralph Pinkus Hosta Garden at the Dallas Arboretum. The Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Road, overlooking White Rock Lake. For more information, visit www.dallasarboretum.org.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the Director of Horticulture Research at the Dallas Arboretum. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine.