Hostas are the bread and butter of Midwestern gardening. They are everywhere here in Michigan, in mind-boggling variety and overwhelming numbers. Even so, my favorite species is woefully underused. Hosta plantaginea is a fairly large species; it lacks the fancy variegation of most of the more popular cultivars but its elegantly veined leaves are a beautiful bright green and very shiny. What sets this Hosta apart, however, are its wonderful flowers which begin opening right around this time of year. Of the purest white and significantly larger than most other Hosta flowers, they open in the late afternoon and emanate a delicious fragrance that is sweet yet fresh, like a mixture of jasmine, tea, and citrus.
Provided it is planted in a spot with adequate shade and moisture, this plant has also proven completely carefree for me. In sunny and dry spots, however, it crashes rather spectacularly, as I have had to find out when I moved around a number of divisions in an effort to have more of that seductive scent throughout the garden.