Northern Shade Gardening

Hosta Ginko Craig Surviving Zone 3 Winter in Pots

Saturday, June 9, 2012 Category: Perennials

I was very surprised when these hardy Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’ survived a zone 3 winter in their pots. Normally, perennials have to be underground here during the winter, or at least protected, to endure the cold. Being tucked away in the ground with a blanket of insulating snow gives the plants the best chance of survival. I’ve never left any new potted perennials out over the winter before, but last fall I didn’t get a  garden bed extended where I planned on planting the Ginko Craig. Then the snow came, and I left them on the back patio. When I saw them again in early spring I thought they would just be compost, since we didn’t even get a persistent and reliable snow cover like we normally do. However, these perennials survived the cold winter just fine, with no setback, and even got a boost.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' small growing tips

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' small growing tips

When I looked at the containers, there appeared to be one little green nose poking up in one of the pots. I didn’t think they could have come through the winter, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and left the pots on the patio. Then slowly additional sprouts appeared, looking more like Hosta growing tips than weeds.  They had the distinctive look of Hosta leaves coming up directly from the crown as tightly curled funnels. As they elongated and started to uncurl, I could see the variegated white margins. I was very impressed with Ginko Craig’s fortitude after the tough winter.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' overwintered in pot

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' overwintered in pot

The fortunate part is not only did these three Hosta in pots persevere through the cold zone 3 winter above ground, their growth was actually ahead of the Hosta in the ground. The punishing temperatures didn’t appear to set them back, and they actually got a head start on their growth spurt. I assume that the soil in the dark plastic containers heated up quicker than the ground in the spring sunshine, and gave them a boost.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' with white leaf margins

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' with white leaf margins

In the picture above,  you can see how much more developed the overwintered potted plant on the right is compared to the Ginko Craig plant in the garden. The slowpoke Hosta are usually one of the last perennials up in spring, generally managing to beat only the Athyrium ‘Ghost’ (ghost fern)  and the Osmunda regalis (royal fern). They like to make sure that everything will be warm and toasty when they start growing, which is another reason I’m surprised that they toughed it out.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' 3 plants

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' 3 plants

Ginko Craig are a terrific little Hosta. They aren’t in  the miniature group, but they are a small Hosta, so they work well as an edging. The plants are about 35 cm (a little over a foot) tall. The narrow white edges on each dark green leaf make them more prominent in the shadows beneath the trees, and add some light, similar to the dappled light patterns flickering between branches. These are a vigorous Hosta, that expand well, which I really appreciate in a short growing season. The group above is from midsummer last year. The two plants in front were planted the year before that, and the smaller one behind was planted that summer, so you can see the growth they made in one season. It also shows how the more mature Ginko Craig plants have wider, more elliptical shaped leaves than younger specimens.  In the top right hand corner of the photo are some Cornus canadensis (bunchberry), which are another  good groundcover for the shade. Here are some other perennials that are planted under the conifers with these Hosta.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' flower scapes

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' flower scapes

This photo of the flower scapes is from a previous season, since they won’t be blooming for a few months yet. The flowers are pretty purple funnels that flare out and hang down around the stem. You could plant these for the late summer blooms alone, but the attractive foliage will look good until frost. There are more photos of these flowers next to some Heuchera ‘Cinnabar Silver‘ in this previous post.

green silver and white leaved plants to go with Hosta 'Ginko Craig'

green silver and white leaved plants to go with Hosta 'Ginko Craig'

I need to get their future bed extended, and get the Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’ out of their pots and into the ground to give their roots  more wiggle room in the garden. Meanwhile, I’ve got some more plants to go with them. The colour scheme for this garden section will be mostly green and silver leaved perennials, with blue, white and lavender flowers. I especially like leaves with some white or silver on them in the darker areas of the garden, so the plants don’t disappear into the shadows. There is some Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ in the middle right of the picture, with leaves that are green and silver highlighted by purple veins. They will make a link between the new green and silver plants and the nearby foliage of some solid purple Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ (coral bells). The Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ (dead nettle) is at the front of the shot, the silver leaves with green edges, which I’m using as an edging.  Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss) is at the back with beautifully patterned silver foliage and green veins. There will also be some Tiarella (foamflowers) with white flowers. All of these shade perennials will do well in the new bed that weaves between some conifers.

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' in pot and Hosta in ground

Hosta 'Ginko Craig' in pot and Hosta in ground

The Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’ are definitely on the hardier end of the spectrum. If you have colder winters, these are tough survivors. Plus, the plants are good-looking with their narrow, crisp bands of white on the leaf margins against the dark green foliage. They will spread, like a groundcover, so are very helpful for filling in any shady areas, or tough spots under the trees. After having all three of them persist through a zone 3 winter in pots, I would even try these perennials in a planter now.


14 Responses to “Hosta Ginko Craig Surviving Zone 3 Winter in Pots” »

  1. debsgarden :
    June 9, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    ‘Ginko Craig’ is a lovely hosta. I really like your silvery blue green/white combinations! I can see all these plants lighting up the shady corners.

  2. Northern Shade :
    June 10, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Debsgarden, Shady Gardener originally recommended this Hosta, and I’ve been very pleased with it.

    Marit, I’m really enjoying those colours in the garden right now. Today the weather is cloudy and gloomy, but the plants in the shade with some silver and grey in their leaves add a little sparkle, along with the white highlights.

  3. Marit :
    June 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

    You have so many lovely grey/silver/blue plants. They look so nice on your photoes.

  4. stadtgarten :
    June 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Thank you so much for your comment. The garden with the beautiful bridge is Berchigranges,which we visited on sunday afternoon. It was fantastic and overwhelming, I will show more pictures soon.
    Your little hosta is so beautiful and I like the idea of a bed with green-white plants with lavender flowers!
    Have a good week, Monika

  5. Northern Shade :
    June 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Monika, that looked like a great garden to visit. Ginko Craig is a nice little Hosta, and I have to get busy with the new garden bed extension for it and the other plants.

    Linda V, I like the broad Hosta leaves next to plants with smaller leaves, as they do give structure.

  6. Linda V :
    June 12, 2012 at 2:01 am

    The combination with green and silver is so beautiful! I really like hostas, they give structure! Thank you for your comments on my blog, I really enjoy them!

  7. Pauline :
    June 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Do like your choice of plants to go with your hostas. Silery leaves are so good in a shady area and really bring it to life, your hosta will add good structure. Hope you manage to get your bed extension finished soon.

  8. Northern Shade :
    June 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Pauline, it’s on the list of tasks, and I’ll probably get it planted in the next few weeks. I also have some Astilbe that I want to move around. It is cool and rainy all week, so it is a good time to be transplanting and adding new perennials. One good thing about the cooler weather of zone 3 is that I can move perennials in summer, too.

  9. Barbara :
    June 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Lucky you, your hosta has survived in the pot.Unfortunately I cannot say this from mine. I lost about four different hostas that I had in pots. All the others in the gardenbeds survived our very cold winter. I love “Jack Frost”, it’s a wonderful plant. Do you know the sort “Looking glass”? It looks almost similar to Jack Frost. However the slugs prefer “looking glass”, as I just noticed. We’ve had rain or several days.
    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. I wish I was finished with my plant moving ;-) !

  10. Northern Shade :
    June 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Barbara, I’m starting to think that Ginko Craig might be hardier than other Hosta. None of my other Hosta are volunteering to spend the winter in a pot, though. Perhaps I will try it with some other smaller specimens of other varieties.

    I have some Brunnera ‘Looking Glass, too, and like the solid silver colour they develop during the summer. I will have to keep my eye out to see if it gets any slug problems. I’ve been fortunate that my garden doesn’t usually get many slugs, but last year was damper, and I had more slug damage than in any other year. The Brunnera seemed okay, though.

  11. kim :
    June 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    OK you have me searching for this Hosta. I love it when nature proves to be stubborn and strong and defies the odds.

  12. Northern Shade :
    June 26, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Kim, Ginko Craig is a vigorous Hosta, and the white margins make it stand out.

  13. Grace :
    July 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I love the silver/green combination you have planned for the new garden area you’re working on. Absolutely fabulous. Interestingly, I had a Lamium ‘White Nancy’ that I regrettably killed by depriving it of water. Fortunately I found a small start of it growing. I moved it near my Jack Frost Brunnera and yes!

  14. Northern Shade :
    July 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Grace, I’ve been wanting to plant ‘White Nancy’ for a few years, but was worried about whether it would take after the more aggressive Lamiums. It is supposed to be better behaved, though, and the foliage is so nicely coloured. It is a good thing you found a surviving piece, to restart your groundcover. That makes it sound like it won’t be overly vigorous in the garden, which is reassuring.

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