Hostas are shade lovers grown mostly for their beautiful foliage, and they're probably the very best plants for groundcover under trees in most parts of the U.S. Its simple: they're delighted to grow in shady spots where your grass will not. (They are super hardy in cold areas, but are somewhat difficult as far south as the Gulf Coast.)
Any gardener who lives in the huge area where Hostas are popular knows them. Now with over 1000 named cultivars, there are Hosta collectors everywhere. Just choose your favorites from the small, medium, and large sizes, and an endless choice of leaf designs. The plants, members of the lily family, are native to Korea, China and Japan, and gardeners there have used them for centuries for landscaping. The craze for Hostas is more recent in the U.S. And why not? They offer an endless variety of their wonderful fountain mound shape of handsome foliage--in lush shades of green, bluish-green, yellowish green, and all sorts of variegated types. Nothing is easier to grow; in fact, most gardeners simply ignore them, and they form their beautiful round shapes all by themselves, year after year.
Propagation is simple, too: If you've never divided a Hosta, let me tell you how simple and successful it can be. I once volunteered to help a friend divide three or four large, old Hosta clumps into smaller plants to line a shady walk. We began by digging them up, and then split the big fleshy root masses with a hatchet. Underground, Hostas are much like Daylilies, with fleshy, heavy masses of thick rootstocks. Once, we had the old clumps chopped into 8 or 10 equal-size pieces each, we simply dug a trench on both sides of the shady walk, and buried the pieces spaced evenly apart. They looked fine on through that summer, and the very next spring, each one was up, healthy, and already formed into a perfect circle! So don't think if you divide yours, you'll disturb that wonderful round fountain shape. They just recover and create a new whorled circle wherever you put the divided pieces. Today, that walk is edged with large, lush circles of Hosta foliage all season long.
The Flowers Yes, Hostas do flower, and some cultivars have quite beautiful blooms, mostly purplish, blue or white, on tall lily-like stems above the foliage. Hosta purists often nip off the flower stalks before they can bloom, preferring to throw all the growth into the all-important foliage of the plants.