Illinois Prairie Hosta Society
The Illinois Prairie Hosta Society, a Champaign-Urbana area society, was formed in July 2004.
The objectives and purposes of the Illinois Prairie Hosta Society are to bring together, for their mutual enjoyment, people who are interested in growing Hosta as a hobby, promoting the development of better Hosta, and encouraging wider use and appreciation of Hosta in our area.
In 2011 the IPHS and U of I Arboretum joined together to create a garden for Hostas and Companion Plants that the community could enjoy. We are continuing to collaborate on design and new additions regularly. This is a garden that will continue to evolve as time passes. The garden is located at the Arboretum on Lincoln Avenue in Champaign. It is North of the Japan House and South of the North entrance to the Arboretum along the Kari Walkway.
First discovered in the mountainous regions of Japan and China, the genus Hosta now includes at least 61 species and over 7400 cultivars. (Mark R. Zilis. The Hostapedia, An Encyclopedia of Hosta. 2008) Although common lore calls Hosta shade-loving, the truth is that it is shade tolerant; its true colors and best growth come with morning sun, a site where it will get well-drained and evenly moist water, and under trees which provide light or dappled shade and have deep rather than shallow roots. In fact, H. plantaginea cultivars need 4-6 hours of sunlight daily to maximize growth, color, and the fragrant blooms for which the species is known.
Hybridization of hostas (the more commonly used form of the genus name) has resulted in the tremendous variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures known to hosta collectors today. The recent development of tissue culture (which relies on laboratory genetic reproduction rather than garden plant growth) has resulted in mass propagation of some cultivars and thus made them much more well-known. However, within the hosta community, collectors still prefer the originator stock and will purchase it when possible. Many of the hostas in these gardens were donated by Illinois Prairie Hosta Society (IPHS) members from their originator stock collections.
The “companion plants” in these gardens enjoy the same habitats as the hostas: they are tolerant of shade and prefer well-drained soil with even watering. Companion plants are valuable in any hosta garden as they provide more seasonal interest and texture variation. Some of these plants will colonize rather rapidly (e.g., variegated Solomon’s Seal) while others (e.g., heuchera) are very slow to reproduce. IPHS members and the University of Illinois arboretum donated the companion plants in these gardens.
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