Hosta – Variegated Turning Green

Q: I have several hostas that once had a green center and white edge but each year the variegation seems to fade more and more. In fact, some of them are solid green this year. I have some of the same type in other parts of the yard that have maintained well-defined variegation so I’m guessing that the ones that have faded are missing either a nutrient or are planted in the wrong soil. What do you think?

A: I think I will let my friend Bob Polomski at Clemson University answer you. According to Bob, nutrients have no bearing on this gradual color change. This reversion to green is called viridescence and is a physiological response to warm summer nights. In regions where the nights are cool, the leaf color of ‘Albomarginata’ hosta remains unchanged. Full sun tends to exacerbate the change in color and appearance of the leaves.

You could force your hosta to return to its original color by cutting it down to ground level when the leaves begin to turn green. Afterwards new white-margined foliage will emerge and remain
unchanged into the fall. However, if you perform this drastic operation too often, expect to see smaller leaves in the clump in subsequent seasons.

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