hos·​ta ˈhō-stə How to pronounce hosta (audio)
: any of a genus (Hosta) of Asian perennial herbaceous plants of the lily family with densely growing basal leaves and tall racemes of white or violet flowers

called also funkia, plantain lily

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There are about 40 species of hostas or plantain lilies, which are hardy perennials in the lily family, native to eastern Asia. They prefer light shade, but will grow under a variety of conditions. They are valued for their conspicuous foliage, which may be light to dark green, yellow, blue, or variegated. The ribbed leaves grow in a cluster at the base, and stalks bearing clusters of tubular white or bluish-purple flowers emerge from the leaves.

Examples of hosta in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some hostas grow pretty large, while others, like 'Blue Mouse Ears,' stay under a foot tall. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 9 Apr. 2024 Plants are organized by category and include varieties of sun to shade, groundcovers, hostas, mums, sedums, and peonies. Journal Sentinel, 8 Apr. 2024 Lisa’s favorite plantlife includes sedums, small evergreens, hostas, and shrubs. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 25 May 2022 The thin racemes that produced the hosta’s pink flowers need removing, the high-bush blueberries have too many canes, the honeysuckle has grown leggy, and then there’s the rhododendron. Robert Klose, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Feb. 2024 Hellebores do well at the edge of a woodland garden with other shade-loving perennials, such as ferns, hostas, gingers, foamflowers, and toad lilies. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 8 Feb. 2024 Lilies and hostas, their leaves already paled and half rotted by the cold autumn rain, remained recognizable. Yiyun Li, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 Otherwise, water early enough in the day so that the hosta foliage can dry by nightfall. Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 24 Aug. 2023 Some of the plants most vulnerable to deer are hosta, daylily, pansies, tulips, hydrangeas, hibiscus, and roses. Chris McKeown, The Enquirer, 19 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hosta.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, genus name, after Nicolaus Thomas Host †1834 Austrian physician and botanist

Note: The genus was named in honor of Host by the Austrian botanist Leopold Trattinnick (1764-1849) in Archiv der Gewächskunde, Band 1 (1812), p. 55.

First Known Use

1930, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hosta was in 1930

Dictionary Entries Near hosta

Cite this Entry

“Hosta.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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