Hostas or plantain lilies are native to Asia, specifically China, Japan, Korea and Eastern Russia. It’s believed that there are around 45 species of hosta, but there are debates around the classification of species and cultivars.
Today, they are widely grown for use as shade tolerant plants, and are extremely popular in many garden designs and styles because of their interesting foliage shape and colouring.
Mostly grown for their foliage, they also have blooms that appear in June to July. The blooms tend to be purple or white in colour and bloom on tall stems. These are a nice addition to a foliage plant, though the flowers can look shabby after a few days. The flowers can be deadheaded to conserve energy. Alternatively, stalks can be left on the plant until autumn when the foliage also dies back.
Although hostas are grown as ornamental foliage plants, they are also edible. In fact, in parts of Asia they are grown as a vegetable. The leaves have a taste similar to lettuce, whilst the shoots have an asparagus-like flavour. Use in stir-fries and salads, or large shoots can be boiled or used like any other vegetable.
The flowers are also edible but aren’t eaten as often because they don’t have much of a flavour. They can still make a good garnish if you want to add a natural finishing touch to your dishes.
However, bear in mind that they can be toxic to pets if ingested.