(Image credit: skymoon13)

You’re in luck if you’re a northern gardener looking for cold hardy hostas, as hostas are remarkably tough and resilient. Exactly how cold hardy are hostas? These shade-tolerant plants are suitable for growing in zone 4, and many do just fine a little further north in zone 3. In fact, hostas require a period of dormancy in winter and most don’t take a shine to warm southern climates.

Zone 4 Hostas

When it comes to selecting hosta varieties for northern gardens, nearly any hosta is perfect. However, it appears that light-colored hostas are more susceptible to damage by frost. Here is a list of some of the most popular hosta plants for zone 4. Giant Hostas (20 to 48 inches (50-122 cm.) tall)

  • ‘Big Mama’ (Blue)
  • ‘Titanic’ (Chartreuse-green with golden borders)
  • ‘Komodo Dragon’ (Dark green)
  • ‘Humpback Whale’ (Blue-green)

Large Hostas (3 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) wide)

  • ‘Elvis Lives’ (Blue fading to blue-green)
  • ‘Hollywood Lights’ (Dark green with yellow centers)
  • ‘Parasol’ (Blue-green with creamy yellow borders)
  • ‘Sugar and Spice’ (Green with creamy borders)

Mid-Size Hostas (1 to 3 feet (30-90 cm.) wide)

  • ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ (Powdery blue-green)
  • ‘Cathedral Window’ (Gold with dark green borders)
  • ‘Dancing Queen’ (Gold)
  • ‘Lakeside Shore Master’ (Chartreuse with blue borders)

Small/Dwarf Hostas (4 to 9 inches (10-22 cm.) tall)

  • ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (Blue)
  • ‘Church Mouse’ (Green)
  • ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ (Golden with dark green borders)
  • ‘Banana Puddin’ (Buttery yellow)

Tips on Growing Cold Hardy Hostas

Be careful of planting hostas in places where the soil may warm up earlier in late winter, such as south-facing slopes or areas that get a lot of bright sunlight. Such areas can encourage growth that may be nipped by an early spring freeze. Mulch is always a good idea, but should be kept to no more than 3 inches (7.5 cm.) once the weather warms in spring, especially if your garden is home to slugs or snails. By the way, hostas with thick, textured or corrugated leaves tend to be more slug-resistant. If your hosta is nipped by an unexpected frost, keep in mind that the damage is rarely life-threatening.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.