Hosta ‘Francee’ with Variegated Leaves

Here is a Hosta that adds subtle highlights to the shade garden. Hosta ‘Francee’ is new to my garden this year, and I’m already appreciating the way the white edged leaves gleam in the shadows. The pretty flowers above the variegated leaves were an unexpected bonus on this perennial.

The oval leaves of ‘Francee’ have defined ribs running along them. Each leaf has a thin white edging along the leaf margins, making a subtle variegation.

Hosta 'Francee' dappled light
Hosta 'Francee' dappled light

The variegated leaves mimic the effects of dappled light on leaves under the trees. In the above photo of ‘Francee’, you can see how the spots of real light blend with the white edging, in a similar colour and pattern. When there is no actual direct light, the leaves of this plant still give the illusion of dappled light in the shade garden.

Hosta 'Francee' flower and buds
Hosta 'Francee' flower and buds

I wasn’t expecting the flowers of ‘Francee’ to be as pretty or as noticeable as they are. This closeup shows the bottom flower open, and a number of buds above. The lavender buds open to very pale lavender flowers that have faint purple stripes inside. These flowers are prettier and more numerous than I anticipated for a foliage plant.

Hosta 'Francee' flower lots of buds
Hosta 'Francee' flower lots of buds

Since it’s new this year, I don’t yet know how this perennial overwinters in zone 3, but I think it should do just fine, as most Hostas do. It should also fill in with more leaves next year, getting wider and taller. The mature plants are much more dense with the solid leaves.

Hosta 'Francee' Athyrium and Pulmonaria
Hosta 'Francee' Athyrium and Pulmonaria

I liked the way Hosta ‘Francee’ looked in the shade, a solid leafed plant with subtly variegated leaves, so I added two more to other garden areas. All three of the Hosta have lacy  ferns nearby, which emphasize the leaf texture. The picture above shows ‘Francee’ with Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern) behind and the silvery gray Pulmonaria ‘Majeste’ (lungwort) to the right.

Another ‘Francee’ is paired with some Athyrium ‘Ghost’ (Ghost ferns). My third one is matched with some Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian bugloss), Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern) and Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern). Ferns and Hosta are a classic shade combination.

Do you have some favourite Hosta in your garden, and what plants do you like to pair with them?

15 thoughts on “Hosta ‘Francee’ with Variegated Leaves”

  1. Very nice looking hosta! I generally have a fairly green thumb, but for some reason, I can’t seem to grow hostas! I’ve had 3 (including Francee) for about 4 years, and they never get past a few leaves, but keep coming back. My emerald is growing well this year, but isn’t likely to flower. I’ve moved the veriegated ones and will try to baby them for the rest of the year, and hope they do better next growing season.

    I agree that the white edges on the fairly dark foliage is beautiful. :)

    1. Rebecca, I’ll have to wait until next year to see how they return. I hope they have at least as many leaves. The flowers this year are courtesy of the grower, as they produced buds shortly after I got them, so next year I’ll see how they respond to the garden site. I would be satisfied if they just produced these nice leaves. They are in three slightly different areas, so it will be interesting to find out how they respond.

    1. Joanne, I got quite fond of this Hosta when I saw it in the garden setting. I especially like the way they coordinate with many of the other plants. ‘Francee’ seems to liven up the garden beds and make the other plants look a little better.

      I’ll keep my eye out for any munchers.

    1. Gail, I hope the new Hosta do well. It’s always hard to tell for sure how plants will overwinter until the next year. I’m always glad to see the new growth in spring.

  2. That is a very pretty hosta that brightens a shady area : )
    August Moon was one of my hostas that “grabbed” me .. it has since been divided and loves sharing itself with other partners in the garden .. but sadly those darn slugs have been snacking on them as well as a few others .. what would it be like to have a year with no slugs or aphids in the garden ? .. aahhhh! it would be heaven !!

    1. Joy, I will have to check out your pictures of August Moon. I like to repeat a favourite plant around in different beds too.

      I’ve been fortunate to not have many slugs in my garden so far. There are aphids around the garden, but at least they keep the ladybugs happy. Those two seem to have achieved something of a balance.

  3. Joy, I know what you mean. I’ve had black & green aphids, along with quite a few slugs this year. I will also look at August Moon, I’m not familiar with it. :)

    1. Jackie, I was pleasantly surprised by the blooms. I really wasn’t expecting much, and thought they might distract from the decorative leaves, but they look quite nice in flower.

  4. Hi Northern Shade:

    I put in a Hosta ‘Francee’ in 2004 and it has done spectacularly well since. At the moment its leaves cover 2 x 3 feet and are about 2 feet high. My first flower stalk is just up. Last year, in spite of moderate hail damage, the Francee put up 6-7 flower stalks, and I’m hoping for a repeat performance this year. A stunning plant that makes me feel somewhat less the hosta black thumb – a Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’in the same bed lasted only a year (the blooms were very fragrant) and a Hosta ‘Frances William’ nearby has only a half dozen leaves this year and the slugs have made a mess of them (in 2007 and in 2008 hail whacked it severely). Slugs, hail, and impatience with a trowel (hostas are a bit slow to come up) seem to be the primary mortality factors.

    The Francee is in a narrow bed between a sidewalk and plank fence on the west side and gets an hour or two of direct sun and a moderate amount of indirect sun. Extra snow from shovelling the sidewalk may help it to overwinter. The Francee is definitely the belle of the ball, but goes very well with its companions: Astilbe ‘Fanal’, Deer Fern (Bechnum spicant) and a native showy aster (Aster conspicuus). This year I also put in a Hillside Black Beauty snakeroot (Actea [Cimicifuga] racemosa) in the spot the Fragrant Beauty once occupied. The divided purple-black leaves are striking next to the white margins of the Francee, but if it does too well, it may overpower the hosta.

    1. Dave, it’s good to hear that ‘Francee’ is hardy, and makes robust growth too. They are sheltered under branches, so perhaps that will help them avoid some hail damage. Those gaping holes in the spring garden are always tempting to fill. Plants should really put out a leaf or two if they want to stake their territory.

      The astilbe and fern in your west side bed with Francee would help show off the foliage, and the aster would brighten it up. I really like the leaves on my Actaea ramosa, although mine are just purple tinged, and don’t have the extra dark leaves. It’s hard to get the spacing correct when those darn things keep growing.

    1. Rebecca, thanks for the suggestion, I will have to check it out. I really enjoy the way the highlights of white on the leaves show up in the shadows. They make the shady garden beds look a little more dappled with sunshine.

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