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 Hosta 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.

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” over 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’ 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.

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.

I don’t have much experience with this Hosta as I just bought it, but I will continue adding photos and information as time goes by.

One thing I might point out is that Hosta ‘ Sum and Substance’ is supposed to do very well in sun… As I drive around town, I notice several yards where their Hosta are doing very well in the full, hot blaring sun. I haven’t ventured to do that and most likely won’t. Hosta prefers consistently moist soil, so you would definitely have to water them every day in full sun during the summer.

I found this interesting article 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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