All About Hosta Sum and Substance Plants

Meet the big, bold hosta that will give you neighborhood bragging rights.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

By: Julie A Martens

Botanical Names: Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’, ‘Sum and Substance’ Hosta

Step up the wow factor in your yard by adding Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ — one of the original biggies in the world of hostas. A true overachiever, this hosta grows 3 to 4 feet high and an easy 6 feet across. The record-holding ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta plant measures a whopping 114 inches (almost 10 feet) across and stands at a height of 4 feet. This particular Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ was planted in 1986 and reached that top tier size seven years later.

Professional hosta growers give ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta credit for stirring intense interest in using hostas in landscapes. The large, oversize leaves, which grow up to 2 feet across, command attention. Most of the first gardeners who added Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ to their yards wanted a specimen plant, a conversation piece. Its easy growing nature quickly won gardeners to using more hosta varieties in planting beds.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ unfurls striking chartreuse leaves that easily withstand a few hours sun. Leaf color changes depending on how much sun the plant receives. Less sun produces greener leaves, while more sun exposure results in gold tones. ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta actually prefers some sunlight, growing best when it receives from two to six hours of sun. Bright morning sun is best. Plants don’t thrive in the Deep South (Zones 7 and warmer) when they receive direct sun. Full sun is just too hot in these areas.

Leaves have a corrugated texture and strong vein patterns. Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ leaves are thicker and are actually quite slug resistant. Flowers appear in midsummer. The blooms are arranged on spikes that shoot up 4 feet high. Individual blossoms are lavender.

To help ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta plants achieve full size, give them plenty of elbow room. Avoid planting them in areas where their roots will face heavy competition for water and nutrients, like beneath a tree. A well-maintained mulch layer is also important to help Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ grow its best. Soil that’s mulched retains moisture longer and better, keeping it available for plant roots.

Be sure to prepare the planting area well, working in plenty of organic matter to help soil retain adequate moisture to keep those oversize leaves from wilting. For organic matter, you can use any material that’s readily available. Hostas do thrive with things like compost, composted leaves or well composted manure.

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