Hosta combinations that work: step-by-step

1) The single biggest mistake is buying an assortment of large, fancy hostas and putting them all together. It is the variation in leaf size, plant size and the combination of plainer, single coloured leaves with the fancier and variegated leaves used only as a highlight which makes hostas work together.

2) As a general rule, a variegated hosta needs the foil of single coloured leaves on a ratio of two or three plants to one. Going for size and leaf shape variation adds more drama as in this combination of the little frilly variegation of Kabitan with the large, rounded single coloured foliage of Goldrush.

3) Hostas come in gold, blue and green with variegations in white, cream, blue and gold. A blue and yellow variegated hosta will look better set against plain blue hostas or maybe a plain blue and a plain gold. Green and yellow variegated hostas will look best set alongside plain yellow or plain green hostas. Green hostas with sharp white variegations need lots of plain green to set them off.

4) Large swathes of hostas look better if they are kept to just one variety. This one on the left is Golden Tiara. We prefer hostas integrated with other plants, rather than only associating them with their own kind. This combination of a variegated hosta on the right with a froth of maiden hair fern adds interest in a narrow border.

5) In a complex herbaceous planting, the golden hosta adds light and a solid presence amidst Chatham Island forget-me-nots, Inshriach primulas, meconopsis and other plants.

6) Paler variegations – the golds, creams and whites – need more shade. They will be the first to burn in the sun.