{Almost} Wordless Wednesday :: Fragrant Plantain Lily (Hosta plantaginea)

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 by Trillium Art


One of the best things about moving to a home with mature gardens is the discovery of the existing plants. This especially holds true when you move in during spring’s arrival! We have enjoyed watching the garden change through the different seasons as we take account of what’s here and evaluating what will stay and what should be moved.

At the side of the garage is a shadier garden complete with a Golden Mockorange (it’s struggling but it bloomed!), Trilliums, Lily of the Valley and Hosta. Now, I must admit that I’m a bit of a Hosta snob. I do enjoy several varieties and I have my favourites that I use in my designs. Now, I’m not sure how many times I have walked past this shady garden and not given this group of hosta a second look until… wow, the fragrance stopped me in my tracks!


Hosta plantaginea is the only fragrant species of Hosta and there are multitudes of varieties that have evolved from this plant. H. plantaginea has the largest of blooms of all the hostas, sometimes growing to more than twice as large as those in all other hosta species. I love the pure white colour of these flowers, very elegent indeed. The blooms open towards the end of the day – I even caught one on my camera phone. The leaves are a bright, glossy, heart-shaped lighter green with no variegation. They create a lovely mound and keep growing throughout the season.


There is quite a bit of docmentation about Hosta plantaginea starting with it’s initial cultivation in China (200 BC). It was grown in Europe in the 1700’s and even reported to be part of Josephine Bonaparte’s Garden of Malmaison! It was introduced into the United States in the early 1800’s and was often grown in a greenhouse due to it’s tropical appearance.


The question then becomes…which variety do I have the pleasure of smelling? This is a definate drawback from not planting these gardens myself. I have a feeling that the beautiful hosta in my garden is the Royal Standard Hosta, a result from a cross between H. plantaginea and H. sieboldiana. This beautiful mound of leaves has done well this summer with no care from me. There is very little slug or earwig damage (holes in the leaves). The blooms are large and oh, so sweet! I can honestly say that I will be adding this one to my list of favourites. I have plans for next year, dividing up the plant and including them in the containers at my front door!


Royal Standard Hosta

Zone: 2

Light Conditions: requires part sun to produce the best flowers

Height: 24”

Spread: 36” – 40”

Flowers: pure white blooms, very fragrant, can be 6” long or more (most Hostas are 1-2”), blooming late summer into early fall

Tips: great for cut flowers, grow well in containers and mixed planters

Tags: , ,

2 Responses

  1. Virginia Mitchell says:

    I love them too and I have several. There was one, as long as I can remember, in my parents’ garden, north of Montreal. I believe that the scent was just my little secret and once discovered, I always made sure to enjoy it when I noticed them in bloom. They would be great in containers, wouldn’t they! By the way, I do have one such plant that refuses to bloom; it’s multiplying alright, but no flowers?!?

    • Trillium Art says:

      What a wonderful memory! In terms of a Hosta not flowering…possible it’s not mature enough, needs different kind of light (more sun or more shade) or it could be a soil issue. Have you tried transplanting it to a new location? It will need lots of compost and a well-drained site. Hope you have better luck next year.

Leave a Reply