Why Light Levels are So Important

Why Light Levels are So Important

The importance of light levels when growing hostas can really get overlooked and hostas are very often pigeonholed as shade plants. Light levels have a much greater part to play in the quality of your hostas than you may expect. The quality and quantity of light will drastically affect the appearance and growth rate of your plants. 

How Light Can Affect Your Hosta's Appearance

It is important to consider what you want your hosta to look like prior to planting it. Do you want it to be bright or maybe more muted? Well, light will have a major part to play in this. Some varieties will look completely different if planted in different light levels. Hosta 'June' for example, goes yellow in its centre with green margins if given more light or alternatively more green with blue margins if given less. This is the same for many varieties, 'August Moon' will be lime green if it's not exposed to much light or bright gold if exposed to a lot. 

Hosta JuneHosta June
Hosta 'June' more light left, less light right.
Hosta August MoonHosta August Moon
Hosta 'August Moon' more light left, less light right.
How Light Can Affect Your Hosta's Growth Rate
Getting the light levels correct in order to maximise growth can be much harder than getting the levels right to affect appearance. Your hosta may take time to show that the light levels are not sufficient for good growth and if you are unsure it can take several moved before it is happy and putting on growth.
Hosta Dancing QueenHosta Love PatHosta Paradise Glory
From left to right, 'Dancing Queen' in afternoon sun, 'Love Pat' morning sun, 'Paradise Glory' dappled shade.
We often have customers contacting us to say that their hosta hasn't done much after they planted it, and although this can be for many reasons, light levels are usually a big factor. Part of the issue is the very broad use of the term 'shade plant'. Although hostas will grow in full shade, they will grow much better if given a higher level of light. We would usually advise people to plant in dappled shade, by dappled shade we me under a tree canopy that may reduce the level of light slightly without creating too much shade. Dappled shade or partial shade can also mean higher light levels for shorter periods such as morning or afternoon sun. Very often, a bit of direct morning sun for a couple of hours can be even better than the canopy of a tree with day long dappled shade. It will very much vary from variety to variety.

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