Virtues: 'Rainbow's End' is an intriguing hosta thanks to its shiny yellow-and-green leaves, each of which bears its own unique pattern. This foliage is also thick enough to resist slug damage. 'Rainbow's End' was named Hosta of the Year for 2021 by the American Hosta Growers Association. This award is granted annually to a hosta cultivar that has proven to be trouble free across regions; that has exceptional ornamental attributes; and that is widely available to gardeners and collectors alike.
Common name: 'Rainbow's End' hosta or plantain lily
Botanical name: Hosta 'Rainbow's End'
Exposure: Part shade or full shade
Flowers: Tubular purple flowers appear in late summer atop upright red stems that extend above the mounded foliage. Hosta flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and bumble bees.
Foliage: This is a variegated hosta with lustrous leaves in shades of green and yellow. The edge of each leaf is dark green while the center is bright lemon-lime with dark green streaks. Each leaf can have different degrees of streaking, adding interest. In summer, the yellow portion of the leaf turns creamy white. The leaves are resistant to slug damage.
Habit: 'Rainbow's End' is a small to midsize hosta, growing about a foot high and nearly two feet wide, forming a mounded shape. It is an herbaceous perennial that dies to the ground each fall.
Origin: Hans Hansen discovered 'Rainbow's End' growing as a sport (natural mutation) of the cultivar 'Obsession'. It was registered as a unique cultivar in 2005.
How to grow it: 'Rainbow's End' needs the same care as the majority of hostas: a spot receiving afternoon shade, soil amended with organic matter and consistent water, especially in its first season or two. This plant can take shade all day, but the leaf color will be brightest with a few hours of sun. USDA Zones 3–9.
Image courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
Read our posts on other Hosta of the Year winners:
'Brother Stefan' (2017)
'Lakeside Paisley Print' (2019)