What is a Plantain Lily?

Vasanth S.
Vasanth S.
Handful of peat moss, which is good for plantain lilies.
Handful of peat moss, which is good for plantain lilies.

A plantain lily is a perennial plant that is commonly used as ground cover. The name is used to describe a number of species within the Hosta genus including Hosta tokudama, Hosta montana, and Hosta fortunei. Varieties of the species differ in foliage color and shape. A common characteristic among plantain lilies is their ability to thrive in the shade. They make a great addition to shade gardens and are great container plants as well.

Typically, a plantain lily features large leaves and flowers that resemble lilies. Most species reach a height of 24 inches (about 61 cm), with a spread of 35 inches (about 89 cm). Hosta montana features white flowers and variegated green and yellow leaves, while Hosta fortunei has similar leaves but features purple flowers. The flower stalks are usually removed after the flowers have dried up.

The plantain lily is ideal for shade gardens since it doesn't require that much sunlight to grow. Shade gardens are usually in areas that are lacking exposure to direct sunlight. The area might be barren and unkempt, since not many plants can grow there. Plantain lilies help to fill an otherwise empty area.

These lilies are typically planted as border plants or as ground cover. As border plants, plantain lilies provide a separation between the shade garden and the rest of the yard. As ground cover, plantain lilies can fill the space between other plants or provide a good backdrop for taller shrubs or trees. The plantain lily is also grown as a container plant.

Most species of plantain lily can grow in several types of soil, as long as it is well-draining. Adding a few inches of mulch around the plantain lily generally improves moisture conditions. Applying an all purpose, slow releasing fertilizer also helps the plant develop.

Plantain lilies are propagated by division, usually in the spring. To divide the plant, it must be dug up first. The entire root ball should be excavated, and the plant should be laid on its side. Typically, the plant is divided into two sections, but if the plant is large, additional divisions are produced. A knife that has been sterilized in fungicide is usually used to make the cut.

Afterward, the divided plants are placed into new holes and filled with soil. Amendments to the soil provide support and nutrition for the roots. Some commonly added materials include peat moss and pine bark. The newly planted perennials will need regular watering.

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    • Handful of peat moss, which is good for plantain lilies.
      Handful of peat moss, which is good for plantain lilies.