Miniature Hosta

'Sugar Plum Fairy'
Miniature Hosta

"There she goes now
On her toes now
To her yellow lemon-drop moon."

-Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Piotre Illyich Tchaikovsky


The Korean woman who sold me this dwarf hosta said it was called 'Sugar Flame.' Or that's what it sounded like she said; her accent is very heavy. The plants she sells are never labeled, so we go through this together quite often. Since I come from a multi-racial family with a Thai mom, I rather pride myself on quickly understanding Asian & Southeast Asian accents -- just not invariably.

I was pretty sure I'd heard "Flame" correctly though she said it with extra syllables, so we focused on her conveying the even less easily pronounced word "Sugar" which came out something like "Chu-gu-rah." When I thought I understood it right, & repeated back to her "Sugar Flame?" she got all excited "Oh, yes! That is it!" So I jotted down the name "Sugar Flame" & went home with my wonderful little dwarf hosta.

Miniature HostaIt was a year before it dawned on me why "Sugar Flame" wasn't listed anywhere, & that it was in reality "Sugar Plum Fairy." Not that "Sugar Flame" wouldn't've been a wonderful name.

Hosta gracillima 'Sugar Plum Fairy' was developed for market right here on Puget Sound, at the Briggs Nursery in Olympia, Washington, & introduced to gardeners in 1987. It has small wrinkle-edged lance-shaped leaves rather than the usual broad large hosta leaves. It grows to a scant four or five inches tall.

This tiny hosta reappears about mid-March, after its winter dormancy, & is shown in the first photo above in early April, still in the process of fluffing out for the spring. It is thriving in bright shade at the front edge of a shade garden, slowly spreading by stolons into a dense little groundcover.

Lightly scented lavender flowers appear in mid to late July, & last until Autumn. These are sometimes on such short stems they appear to be growing within the leaves; elsetimes the blooms dangle from stems that reach a foot of height.

H. gracillima from which which 'Sugar Plum Fairy' was developed is a native wildflower of Japanese mountain valleys. It has given rise to many miniature hosta cultivars.


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