‘Sum and Substance’ is a monster of a Hosta. It has chartreuse leaves that grow to 15 inches long and 12 inches across. The plants themselves develop into clumps that can be 5 feet wide and 30 inches tall. Lavender flowers develop on 3-foot-long stalks in mid-summer. This hosta makes a bold statement in the shaded landscape. It is especially effective when used in combination with big masses of fine textured plants such as Lady Fern or Sweet Woodruff. The thick leathery leaves of ‘Sum and Substance’ give it a high degree of slug resistance and allow it to tolerate some direct morning sunlight.
Large perennials are traditionally sold in #1 container sizes. This is not the best size to purchase. These big plants need big containers to thrive and develop into healthy specimens. They become stressed and stunted in containers that are too small. Big perennials have the presence of a shrub and are most effective when installed from #2 or larger containers. In the garden center, the larger containers help the clients better understand the scale of the plants upon their first encounter with them.
At Johnson’s Nursery, many of the big perennials are produced in #2, #3, or #5 containers. This allows designers to use the plants like what would be done with shrubs. Proper spacing can still be allotted for each plant and the client doesn’t have to wait to see the visual impact. It puts the perennials in scale with the rest of the landscape.
Many of these big perennials are especially useful in areas where substantial plant mass is needed, yet snow will be piled in their location during the winter. Because they die to the ground in the fall, there is no need to be concerned about branches breaking as would be the case if a shrub were used.
Big perennials can be a lot of fun to work with- whether it’s for their fast growth rate, huge dimensions, or magnificent flowers. Grow a few and I’m sure you’ll feel like a kid again!