Hostas are undoubtedly the most popular shade perennial in the world. You see them everywhere used in landscapes. There are thousands of varieties and they're sold pretty much any place that sells plants.
Hostas can be recognized by their small stems topped with solitary leaves that emerge from the soil. The leaves in general are teardrop shaped and often are variegated. Hostas grow flower stalks that display dainty white or lavender flowers in early Summer, but usually they are grown for their foliage rather than their flowers.
All hostas do best in full to part shade. Morning sun is alright but full on afternoon sun can cause the leaves to wilt. While in full sun hostas still grow and can store more energy than they do in the shade, but they end up looking ugly with brown tips and faded colors. So while some hosta farmers chose to grow in full sun, you most certainly do not want to.
Like typical perennials hostas like a well drained soil rich in organic matter. Due to their spreading nature I do not recommend lining hosta beds with landscape fabric and instead to put cardboard or newspaper down.
There are countless different hosta shapes, colors, textures, and sizes. Hostas come in yellow, green, and blue and all variegated forms in between (blue and green, blue and white, green and white, green and yellow, blue and yellow). Some hostas even exhibit three colors on their leaves, such as green yellow and white in the case of hosta 'Orange Marmalade.'
Hosta leaves can be as small as an inch, or as large as a foot, and can reach as high as 3 feet off the ground, though typically most varieties never get taller than a foot. No matter what their size though all hostas for a familiar rosette pattern with their leaf growth, like a giant dahlia bloom. As far as textures go hosta leaves can be smooth, waxy, dimpled, ribbed, even spiny.
Hostas really only have one two pest problems, one is slugs. Luckily commercial slug baits & poisons work exceptionally well so if you do have this problem it is easily controlled. The other problem is gophers, which of course are only a problem if gophers are in your area. If you do have gopher problems try planting some daffodils amongst your hostas. Daffodil bulbs are poisonous and should deter burrowing rodents.
Most hostas are hardy to zone 3 or 4, making them very cold tolerant, and just in general are tough plants to kill. I once dug up a hosta and tossed it into an open compost pile in full sun. It continued to put up new growth, I finally decided such tenacity deserves to be rewarded so I found a spot to plant it. At times when I've wanted to kill a spreading hosta even Round-Up took a few passes to finally kill it.
Every few years, depending on how large you want your plants to get. You can dig & divide your hostas. To do this simply did the plants up and using a sharp shovel cut them making sure at least one eye (or stem growth point) is on each section. Like I said they're extremely hardy so don't worry about being gentle.
One of the most popular applications of hosta planting is to form a tree ring. Typically people mulch around the bases of their deciduous trees, to dress this mulched area up you can plant a circle of hostas around the outer edge of the mulch. Usually a single hosta variety is used to accomplish this. The result is quite nice.
Another nice effect is to put many varied & different hostas together in a border or along a foundation. By using contrasting colors, sizes, and textures, it ends up looking very natural and very pleasing to the eye once the plants mature. It may go against your natural instincts to look for plants that clash, but believe me you will be rewarded.
Smaller hostas can be used as a ground cover. Usually a single variety is chosen and then mass planted in a bed. Hostas spread, but not to the point of becoming invasive. So it's a relatively easy way to build an attractive groundcover.