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Hosta with Henk Goeijers

Holland is about more than just spring flowering bulbs. I recently met with a Dutch farmer who gave me a tour of his hosta fields.

Allen: Henk, as an American, it's fascinating to me to see hosta growing out in the full sun in open fields like this.

Henk: Yes, it is possible in Holland. We like the sun but we don't get too much of it and that's why we are able to grow them in full sun.

Allen: It's interesting how perennials generally have become so popular. I think people are planting many more perennials then they ever have and hostas certainly lead the pack in popularity.

Henk: About 10 or 15 years ago there were just a few varieties, now there are so many. So there is a choice for everybody.

Allen: How many different varieties do you grow here on your farm?

Henk: We grow about 100 different varieties.

Allen: And how many do you produce in a year of individual hosta plants?

Henk: That's over 2 million.

Allen: Gosh, that's amazing!

Allen: And they go all over the world?

Henk: They go all over the world.

Allen: I think in the beginning of the hosta craze, everyone was interested in the foliage of the plant, the leaves were so spectacular, but now they are developing other aspects of them.

Henk: Yes, we've got different varieties, bigger leaves, very small leaves; there are some new hostas with special flower stems.

Allen: And maybe larger flowers?

Henk: Larger flowers, very nice, wide new flowers.

Allen: You know, some of the range in size is fascinating to me because you have the little miniatures that have tiny leaves, all the way up to large leaf hostas.

Henk: Yes, for instance when you take a 'Sum and Substance', which can have leaves of an unbelievable size.

Allen: With 'Sum and Substance', I think it's the color that's so striking as well as the big leaf.

Henk: Yes, the color is fascinating, of course, especially when they are in the shade. It's a fantastic color, you see it right away. It's really magnificent.

Allen: Yes, I think there is something about all the different varieties of hosta that I like. But I think I lean more toward the gray leafed ones, some of the old stand-bys that I have grown are 'Elegans' and 'Krossa Regal', both gray varieties.

Henk: Yes, they are still very popular, of course. The 'Elegans' is a very old variety which is still very, very popular because of the gray, strong leathery leaves and 'Krossa Regal' is one that grows a little bit upright. More and more people who deal with cut flowers are growing hosta varieties because they can put it in a bouquet of flowers. The gray, or the bigger leaves, are fascinating in a bouquet.

Allen: Yes, so not only is the hosta beautiful in the garden where it creates textural contrast it also can do the same in a flower arrangement.

Allen: Many people are planting hostas in their garden, what advice would you give them to grow the biggest, fullest plant possible.

Henk: The soil is very important. It must not be too wet, but it must not be to dry. And it needs shade, it's a real shade plant, so put it in shade. You will get the best color that way.

Allen: I've found that you have to be patient because often the best plant is three to four years old.

Henk: A hosta needs about three to four years before you can say, "Ok, that's it!"