Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ after I brought it home on 6-7-18, #455-13.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’

2004 Hosta of the Year
1990 Alex J. Summers Award
Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit

Developed by Florence Shaw and registered on her behalf by Paul Aden in 1980. Its parentage is unknown although there is some speculation…

There are at least 55 registered sports from Hosta ’Sum and Substance’ and 38 cultivars with it as a parent.

I found this Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ while plant shopping with my sister and her husband at Mast’s Greenhouse on June 7, 2018. This legendary cultivar has been on my Hosta wish list for a very long time and I was glad Mast’s had several to choose from.


Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 6-9-18, #456-19.

I did some rearranging with the old shade bed and put the Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ between the Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and ‘Guacamole’. Hosta ‘Red October’ had been in this spot but it was having some difficulty. When I dug under ‘Red October’ I found a huge mole run and the Hosta’s roots were even barely touching the soil. So after removing Hosta ‘Red October’ and several Iris, I dug around in the soil to fill in the holes and put Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ in that spot. ‘Red October’ is happy in its new location, too.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 6-14-18, #459-39.

Family: Asparagaceae (formerly in Liliaceae)
Origin: Developed by Florence Shaw and Registered by Paul Aden in 1980.
Zones: USDA Zones 3a-8b (-40 to 15° F).
Size: 36” tall plus x 72” in time if not divided.
Spacing: 36” apart.
Flowers: Pale lavender flowers in late July into August on 38-40” stems.
Leaves: Very large dark chartreuse leaves. Slightly corrugated, veined, thick, cupped up and down.
Light: Light to full shade. This Hosta is also sun tolerant to a degree.
Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil.
Water: Average water needs once established.
Propagation: Division every 3-5 years.
Uses: Attracts hummingbirds, shade garden, containers, etc.
Tolerates: Dry shade and high humidity.
Resistant: Information suggests this cultivar is slug and snail resistant.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 6-20-18, #461-16.

I measured the Hosta on June 20 and 21 and the Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ was 8″ tall x 14″ wide. The flower stem was 17″ tall.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 6-21-18, #462-17.

Someday the leaves will grow much larger, but when this photo was taken the largest was 5 1/4″ wide x 7 1/2″ long.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ with its first flower on 7-12-18, #476-9.

Hosta ’Sum and Substance’ is a very large cultivar that can grow 36” tall and around 70” wide in time if grown in optimum conditions. The large, thick leaves are moderately corrugated, slightly cupped up and down and are resistant to slug and snail damage. I have read where the leaves can grow 20” long x 15” wide. Only time will tell.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ flower stem on 7-12-18, #476-10.

As with all Hosta, best performance is achieved with consistently moist soil. If your Hosta isn’t growing well, it is likely a problem with moisture and/or the soil.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 7-29-18, #487-60.

The Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ did very well its first year here.


Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 3-24-19, #556-6.

The Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ was starting to emerge from its winters sleep when I took the above photo on March 24.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 4-7-19, #558-23.

Slowly but surely the Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ is growing.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 4-20-19, #560-22.

Getting there!

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 4-23-19, #562-18.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ is looking GREAT and getting bigger every time I check. This is going to be a great specimen in time.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 5-5-19, #566-41.

NICE! By May 5, temps had been getting warm enough for the Hosta to start growing much better.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 5-25-19, #576-47.

It is always good to see the Hosta all doing well and happy this time of the year.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 7-4-19, #598-3.

Even though I just brought this Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ home last June 7, it has become quite a show-stopper. Very bright and cheery for sure and starting to flower.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 7-10-19, #599-9.

The Japanese Beetles weren’t as bad in 2019 as they were in 2018 because I had a trap next to the shade bed. They love the leaves of the Chinese Elms and there are two that shade the beds where the Hosta are. They turned a shady area into light shade which caused some of the Hosta’s leaves to burn somewhat.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 8-11-19, #613-22.

August 11 was the last day I took photos of the plants in the shade bed in 2019. They had a great summer despite the Japanese Beetle invasion which wasn’t bad in 2019 as it was in 2018. It wasn’t as bad in 2019 because I had a trap right next to the shade beds. I had to keep an eye on them and water a little more often.


Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 3-30-20, #681-23.

Spring was in the air when the above photo was taken on March 30 and the Hosta have been “working on it”. Most of them have been poking out of the ground for a while and now are beginning to turn green. They are a bit slow sometimes when cool temps linger, but as soon as it gets warm enough they will start growing better. It seems like they are waiting for the perfect opportunity.

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 5-15-20, #700-19.

The Hosta did great but I was fairly busy over the summer in 2020 so I didn’t get to take many photos. The plants in the shade bed did very well and we had rain off and on. Luckily, we didn’t have much of a problem with the Japanese Beetles like in 2018 and 2019, so the shade beds stayed shady… 


2021 Wasn’t a good year for the Hosta here. Normally, the deer only nibble on the H. ‘Potomac Pride’ when the Hosta start growing in the spring then leave them alone. In 2021, they kept eating their leaves and wouldn’t let several of them grow. HOPEFULLY, they won’t be a problem in 2022.


Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ on 4-10-22, #866-14.

The Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ made it through the winter. The deer weren’t a problem in 2022, but I was fairly busy over the summer and didn’t take any more photos of the plants in the shade bed. I will try to do better in 2023.

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.

I found this interesting article on the American Hosta Society website about the parentage of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ you might like to read. Click HERE.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on the “Like” below if you have visited this page. Click HERE for my page about the Hosta genus, growing information and sources. The links below are specifically for this cultivar. There are several good sources of Hosta somewhere toward the bottom on the right side of the page.


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