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If I had one arm twisted behind my back, I couldn’t choose just one favorite hosta. I couldn’t even say “uncle” without mentioning the golden chartreuse “Rich Uncle” hosta, or blurting out other fave-raves like the glorious and big “Sum and Substance,” the striped seersucker-textured “Brother Stephan,” the gorgeous “Blue Hawaii,” and not to be overlooked “Paradigm,” “Frances Williams” and “Abiqua.”

See what I mean? There is an amazing variety of hostas — not just green, blue or striped. And we don’t give them enough credit for their versatility, although hostas won’t thrive in deep, dark shade and some types of hostas can take more sun, such as ones with yellow in the foliage. Hostas can light up the shade, fill voids around trees and shrubs, soften lawns and walkways and send up pretty blooms.

Monrovia recently sent out an e-newsletter describing the benefits of using hostas: Create a mood from calm and cool to happy and sunny; short and wider forms are ideal for wrapping around curves; summertime flowers on tall stalks add vertical interest; from small-leafed “Mouse Ears” to large-leaved “Sagae,” they’re just so useful; and they’re easy to grow.

Monrovia also suggests five ways to use hostas for maximum appeal.

1. Massed for maximum appeal. One hosta by the dozen is always an effective choice. If, however, you love the look of a hosta “collection,” with loads of different varieties, here’s a tip: Add plenty of solid colors such as blues and greens. Those will make striped and variegated hostas pop.

2. Filling shady containers. I love the look of hostas in pots. At summer’s end, I’ll find a place in my landscape for the new kid. Hostas are elegant, sophisticated container plants and generally, you can fill a pot with just one plant. A galvanized bucket or tub is a great look.

3. In a mixed border. As Monrovia points out, what makes flowers look even more “flowery?” Being surrounded by lovely foliage. With such a wide variety of sizes, leaf shapes and colors, you can bring plenty of high contrast to a mixed border with hostas.

4. On a shady, dry slope, particularly beneath trees or a hillside where water runs off without absorbing into the soil. Hostas may take a few years to settle in, experts at Monrovia point out, but they are resilient and spreading roots will knit together to help stop soil erosion. And they keep down weeds.

5. As a singular sensation. Some hostas are just so spectacular (“Sum and Substance,” “Abiqua”) and architectural in shape that they can stand alone with nothing but room to grow.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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