Growing Hostas for Food in Your Garden

Those who are looking to branch out and try something new in their gardens are often surprised to hear about how many common garden plants are actually edible. Growing food in your garden does not have to involve growing traditional, annual vegetable crops in rows. You can eat a range of ornamental plants – flowers such as nasturtiums, pansies, violets, borage, lavender and many others can all have edible uses. You can also eat a range of common garden weeds, such as nettles, dandelions, plantago major, chickweed and fat hen. One other plant that you might not know you can eat is hostas.

Hostas can be a surprisingly delicious leafy vegetable. It is not just a good ornamental plant for a shade garden. Hostas will often grow well in the shade of fruiting trees and shrubs, and so can be an excellent plant to include in an edible border or forest garden.

Hostas don't only look good – they taste great too. While all hostas are said to be edible, amongst the best-tasting edible hostas are said to be:

  • Hosta fortunei
  • Hosta sieboldiana
  • Hosta sieboldii
  • Hosta montana
  • Hosta longipes

If you already have hostas in your garden, and are not sure which variety or varieties you have, it is usually still worth trying to taste a leaf or two to see whether or not you fancy adding a little hosta to your diet.

The tastiest part of the hosta is the 'hoston' – the rolled up leaf soon after it first emerges in the spring. These 'hostons' are lovely in a stir fry, though older leaves can also work well adding a little crispness and texture in stir fry dishes.

Older leaves can also be eaten as an alternative to spinach in a wide range of casseroles, soups,stews, curries and other dishes, or as a pot herb. The flowers themselves, and flower buds, are also edible.

As a green, leafy vegetable, hostas can often be grown in shady locations where many other, more traditional leafy crops could not be grown. That means it can be invaluable for making sure that you can obtain a useful yield from every inch of your outdoors space.

Basically, hostas can be a versatile and valuable food crop – definitely earning their keep as food producers in a garden that is both edible and ornamental. Making the most of the space in your garden often involves thinking about incorporating plants that can fulfil more than one function – and the hosta definitely fits the bill.