Plant ID forum: Hosta or Cast Iron Plant? Identifying foliage plants

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Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 5, 2017 1:27 AM CST
First year gardener here... Just wrapping up my first summer and I don't think I would have made it through without sites like this! People must have killed lots of plants before the internet. To get right to the point, I'm wondering how to identify garden foliage plants where you don't always have a flower to work off of? How do I tell the difference between a hosta, an aspidistra, Lily of the valley? Are there any identifying features, differences, comparisons? Anything at all would be so helpful!

The previous owner of my new place was a garden enthusiast so I am slowly recognizing different plants in my yard as we work though the seasons. There are hostas all over the yard. Some green, some your run of the mill variegated white, some potted, some alone and some grouped together. Lots of hostas. About half way through the summer I noticed that while most hostas we're starting to look shabby thanks to slugs and sun, there were a few here and there that started the summer as the smaller, less full hostas that were actually starting to look better. They were standing up really tall compared to the other hostas, no slug damage at all, and a couple of leaves looked so perfectly painted I had to take pictures. Ive never looked at a hosta and thought "wow, look at the beautiful variegation on that one particular leaf". And i noticed that one particular beautifully painted leaf is still looking great months later. I just came across an article about cast iron plants and saw a picture and thought that's got to be it, there has to be some hostas and some cast iron plants and some places where they are both mixed together. But when I try to positively identify each plant I can't pick out any features to say for sure what is what. I google it and come up empty for comparison or defining features, then come across a pic of Lily of the valley and now I don't know what's going on!!!

I think that the hosta is a perennial and the aspidistra is an evergreen where it is hardy (which I read is cuspy here in Central Jersey.. just to make things more difficult!) so does that mean if all else fails I will know for sure if the ones I think are aspidistra last longer but die and never come back??!! Help guys!! I'm a newbie and I need your experience and wisdom!! My garden and I thank you in advance!!!
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Oct 5, 2017 5:11 AM CST
Hi & welcome! ID'ing plants just takes practice, experience seeing some kinds of plants over & over, and nobody is correct every time.

Location should always be considered, and I think your location of NJ rules out Aspidistra, without some type of microclimate being involved (like in a brick planter against a brick wall on the south or west side.)

The leaf you showed can't be Aspidistra elatior because it curls into a funnel where it becomes petiole, and has a ribbed texture on the top surface. Aspidistra leaves connect to petiole in a straight way, are much more long than wide, and are much more flat (not ribbed/grooved.)
Variegated Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior 'Variegata')

There are other species and cultivars of Aspidistra
https://garden.org/plants/sear...

Even when I think I'm sure, I ask for confirmation from others because I have not see all possible plants. There is a great forum here for ID'ing plants:
https://garden.org/forums/view...

You can't trust image search results without looking at the source of each image because the images come from various places, some of which are not correctly labeled. A pic on pinterest or flickr may or may not be correctly labeled. Even botanical gardens and very old gardeners make mistakes.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Oct 5, 2017 7:56 AM CST
Sounds like you inherited some really nice hostas, better tougher varieties. I have a few different ones, older cheap ones are really trashed by now, but one or two better ones still pretty decent.
Aspidistra seems a very unusual garden plant for NJ.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 5, 2017 8:32 AM CST
I was conflicted as to which forum to post to! Maybe I will cross post individual pics. Thank you so much for the quick response. The detailed description of the difference between leaf texture and connection point was exactly the comparison I needed.

Although I'm on the upper cusp I am a millennial so I am an expert at searching the internet and I have zero patience! After a day of not being able to tell for sure I finally decided it was time to ask the experts over here directly!

We had a very mild winter and funny enough the plant that peaked my curiosity to begin with is against a South facing concrete wall but it doesn't matter bc my boyfriend planted a bunch of stuff in May but he can't even tell me which plants those were, let alone what they are!!

I suppose depending on the hosta species and where and how it was grown, how old it is, etc, they can vary quite a bit and one will always have a wider leaf, one will always be less full, be smoother, etc.

It was dark when I posted so I just took some good comparison pics. It's incredible how differently they can hold up! In one you can see how raggedy the hostas are now and to the left there is a random clump that is just different!!


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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Oct 5, 2017 9:58 AM CST
Normal variation of diff hostas in today's pics Thumbs up

The plant with spots is something else- Pulmonaria?
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Plant and/or Seed Trader Hostas Ferns Garden Photography
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RickM
Oct 5, 2017 10:35 AM CST
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

Hosta are wonderful plants! We have them everywhere. It sounds like you have a lot of shade, which is great for hosta. There are some sun tolerant varieties, but most will do well as long as they get plenty of water.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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purpleinopp
Oct 5, 2017 10:41 AM CST
Happy to suggest for your investigation!

Agree with the Pulmonaria suggestion. There are various cultivars:
https://garden.org/plants/sear...

And agree the other plants all look like Hostas.

There are thousands of named Hosta cultivars. The plain species H. plantaginea is what I love. The scent of the blooms is as good as Jasmine or Gardenia, to my nose. I've never smelled anything from the purple blooms.



👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 5, 2017 11:08 AM CST
Awesome, thanks to everyone for the input! We had an incredibly hot summer and it never seemed to stop raining so if I learned one thing in my first year it is how destructive a slug is! (Depending on the plant they tie with earwigs as my arch nemesis) The garden actually faces south but a big tree gives just enough shade to make me completely unsure of what kind of sun every place is! And just as i got every plant happy the days got shorter, the sun and shade switch and it messed everything up! So containers are my best friend right now! Before summer was even here something (most likely a groundhog) ate the two green durable hostas overnight. Poof and they were gone before they even really got here! The rest just seemed to get ragged so quick bc of the slugs. Gonna have to take some preventive measures next year!
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 5, 2017 11:15 AM CST
Jasmine and gardenia are two of my favorite scents so I am going to have to look for the fragrant hosta!
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Region: Maryland Plant and/or Seed Trader Hostas Ferns Garden Photography
Forum moderator
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RickM
Oct 5, 2017 7:29 PM CST
It may well have been a deer that ate your hosta. Last year, we had a doe and her fawns make regular trips to our yard for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 5, 2017 9:02 PM CST
I see way more deer than I see ground hogs in this area. At the time there was a big fat ground hog hanging out like he owned the joint. Every couple months my bf has to set the trap. They're so greedy they get snagged the first night every time. I do see deer out across the lawn (adjacent to a cow pasture) but i have never seen one in the garden area. Yet. My boyfriend, his father, grandfather... All hunters. So maybe they know to stay back!
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Oct 5, 2017 9:36 PM CST
I had a ground hog in my back yard, he never harmed anything in my garden though.
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Oct 6, 2017 12:05 AM CST
I've always lived within a 20 mile radius my whole life and I've always had squirrels but never ever had chipmunks until now. They're so much cuter than squirrels! They were all around the tree on one side of the yard in spring. Then they disappeared for the whole summer. They just reappeared with a vengeance and this time they are on this side of the yard... Not so cute now. They're in the gazebo and on the front porch, I'm finding bird food buried into every single plant. My plan was to bring in my favorites tonight and come up with a quick fix for the rest until I researched and decided what to do. But got caught up in Jimmy Fallon and Seth Myers and now I'm tired and it's a nice night so I don't feel like bringing plants in. I Googled it and decided to try some Cayenne powder. Reflecting, I might have over done it! I did the plants that matter, in the gazebo and then (like a dummy) decided to hit a couple pots on the front porch and the far rail that they seem to scurry up from... I HAVE A PUGGLE!! WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!? I guess I'm gonna have to rinse the porch in the morning so I don't teach her a lesson too. Oh brother!

Ever try this? Did it harm any plants? Did it work? And did it hurt anything un intended (ie a sweet little love pug)?

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