Hosta is a popular shade garden plant. Grown primarily for their foliage, hosta are low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plants.

Originating in the Orient, there are more than 2,500 cultivars available. How does a gardener choose from so many cultivars?

The 2018 Hosta of the Year is "World Cup," first introduced in 2006 by plant breeders Mark Zilis and Doug Beilstein. The story is that Zilis chose this seedling out of Beilstein's seedling bed after winning an auction to choose 20 seedlings, and "World Cup" was one of them. What an interesting story!

"World Cup" is a seedling cross between "Komodo Dragon" and "Superbowl," inheriting the best characteristics of both parents.

"Komodo Dragon" is a large, dark green mounded plant measuring 30 inches tall and 84 inches wide. The deeply veined leaves exhibit good slug resistance. The cultivar has pale lavender flowers in mid-summer but it is the amazing deeply rippled foliage that sells this plant.

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"Superbowl" is a medium-sized plant measuring 17 inches tall and 44 inches wide. It has nearly white flowers but it is the cupped and puckered golden leaves that sell this plant.

"World Cup" is a golden hosta with a good growth rate. Depending on location and soil, the plant will measure between 20 to 30 inches tall and 40 to 48 inches wide.

The deeply cupped, golden corrugated leaves stand upright facing inward, displaying the white backside of the leaves. The pale purple flowers appear in summer. Full of nectar, the flowers will attract butterflies, pollinators, and hummingbirds to the garden.

"World Cup" is a large hosta with a moderate growth rate. Plant it in part to full shade. Keep plants evenly moist in a well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. Use a winter mulch on newly planted hosta to prevent heaving.

The golden foliage color of "World Cup" brings light to the shade garden. The golden foliage is a great compliment to the blue leaves of hosta "Abiqua Drinking Gourd," the 2014 Hosta of the Year, or the variegated leaves of Hosta "Earth Angel," the 2009 Hosta of the Year.

Combine Hosta "World Cup" with lady fern (Athyrium felix-forma) or black cohosh (Actaea racemose). The deeply corrugated leaves of the hosta create an interesting textural contrast with the finer texture of the fern and cohosh.

This impressive hosta is a stunning specimen or great background for smaller plants in the shade garden. Combine "World Cup" with other shade garden perennials and annuals for a colorful, low-maintenance garden design. This hosta is an excellent choice for Hosta of the Year — a competition that is the "World Cup" in the hosta world.