Hi everyone

I would like to add hybridizing instructions from anyone who has experience in this.
This also contains hybridizers suggestions on which plants to use for different traits.


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Pollen storage

I collect pollen from the flowers by lifting the pistil above the stamens with an open pair of scissors and snipping them off to drop into a folded piece of card. Lifting the pistil prevents the pollen from falling on the pistil. The stamens with anthers attached, are stored indoors on paper plates, preferably, the kind with raised quarter panels and are placed in a dry, wind-free spot, out of direct sunlight. I use my light stand shelves and pollen stays viable for many weeks, even months.

For long term storage, I use gel caps. A thousand cost me $ 8.oo Can. I let it sit on the plates for a few days to let the bulk of the moisture evaporate. If I have lots of one particular kind of pollen, I stuff as much as possible into a gel cap using bent nose medical clamps. These are then spaced out along a length of masking tape, then sandwiched with another layer of tape and labeled. This gets rolled up and stacked in a jar for freezing. Dividing it up this way lets you remove a cap from the freezer for use without disturbing the rest.

Sometimes if I have a short supply of any pollen, I may put just a few stamens in each cap, giving me a days worth of use.

I also use sticky labels, marked with the pollen parent, as a wrap on the gel caps for individual caps.

Gel caps, paper plates, card etc. wick away mold causing moisture, keeping the pollen viable. Moisture is the enemy of pollen; avoid using glass, foil etc for holding/storing stamens, or putting fresh ones in glass/ plastic airtight tubes etc.

They have found viable pollen in frozen Mammoth dung !!!!

Some collect pollen on a sawed off Q tip and foil wrap it. With multiple pollinations, especially in an outside environment, each use could pick up undesirable pollens/ spores whereas, stamens collected in a controlled environment can have a single use.

I use a medical clamp to hold the stamens while dabbing. This type of forceps, have locking handles, securely holding the stamen. Most of the time, stamens that have been frozen are still strong enough to support the anther while being used, but if it snaps short, the clamps can still securely hold it by the edge.

I have found with early morning stamen collecting, if the anther is not fully opened, but opened enough to see pollen, they will still open, up 75% when harvested and stored on plates. Happy dabbing!

Jim from the Hills

A lot of it has to do with pollen to pod compatibility. What have your night temps been compared to your daytime temps? Very cool nights and hot days can cause for aborting of the pods. What time of the day are you making your crosses? I do all of my daylily crossing between 6 and 7:30 in the morning. Much past that forget it.

One more thing. Some flowers do not produce enough stigmatic fluid to dissolve the pollen so it can slide down the tube. Two things you can try are, look for other flowers that do have fliud on the tips, you can take that one and apply it to the flower you are trying to cross. First make the cross and then add the fliud to the pollen. If you can find none that have fliud present make yourself a little bit of sugar water at 50 - 50 mix and use that instead. Also, are you using pollen that you have collected and stored or are you using fresh pollen from day to day. If you are waking up to a heavy dew in the morning forget using fresh pollen.

Oh ya, this too, even though it may not be that hot out if the flowers are getting to much sun on them they will heat up 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the air temps and all seed production will abort. So if it is 85 outside the actual surface temp of the flower can be 95 to 100 degrees. The darker colored flower the hotter it will get.

This is how I collect pollen. I pull the anthers early in the morning before they open and bring them inside. I put them on a peace of paper to dry as the paper helps to pull the moister from them. Let them sit til around 5, then lightly scrape the pollen from the anthers. If you are going to use the pollen the next day just let it set in a cool place all night (not the fridge). If you are going to us it over and over again, get some of those little tubes you can put into the freezer. You can store pollen this way and it will stay viable for years. keeping the pollen dry is a major factor to good pod set.

Gary Truck

Several weeks before time to begin the hybridizing process, I select my pod parents. Since I feel that the mother plant greatly influences the growth and vigor of the seedlings, one of the major factors that influence my decisions are:

I. The vigor of the pod parent. I like to select a plant that is robust and consistently provides a good rate of increase.

II. Another trait for consideration is the color and the finish of the plant. Clear, bright colors or what I refer to as decisive ones are on the plus side. The leaf surface adds to or detracts from the all over beauty of a plant. Some of my favorite finishes are either shinny or heavily textured ones but always with better than average substance.

III. The growth pattern of the plant. A neat clump rates high on my evaluation scale. That means that floppy or irregular growth habits are going to be culled from the candidates.

For several reasons it is more convenient for me to work with pod parents that are in containers.

I. It is much easier for me and better for the plant when it needs to be divided. This often has to be done in order to retain the streaked form of some plants.

II. When the plant begins to flower, I move the container under a very large shade tree on the north side of a building. This provides the coolest conditions for the crossing to take place. Here the mother plant receives extra fertilizer and water twice daily.

III. The containers are positioned on a table that places the flowers at eye level. The table provides space for my pollen tray. An extra bonus for me is that neither my back nor knees complain. IV. It saves time both in the morning and evenings. All of my work can be done in one place. It also means that I don’t pack the soil in the garden by walking on it so many times in the summer.

Selecting pollen parents is the next step along the way. I really like to use fresh pollen when possible but sometimes it is necessary to dig in the freezer to see what is available. Late in the evening, I enter the work area with plastic grocery bags and a tray for tomorrow’s pollen. As I move about studying each plant, I place a bag over each scape that will have flowers for crossing the next day. It is easy to use the handles on the bags to tie around the scape. I bet you have already guessed this is to keep the bees away from the flowers. After all flowers are protected, I collect my pollen for tomorrow. Large buds that will be open the next day are labeled and placed in my pollen tray’. Taking the pollen inside at night means that it will be ripe and ready for use early the next morning. This is wonderful especially on cool damp mornings, which is a great time for crossing. On days like this pollens left outside will not be ripe for several hours.

Mary Chastain

Basic Instructions:
  • 1. Start Early - The warmer the morning temps, the earlier you have to start crossing.
  • 2. Find your Pollen - Anthers should be open showing fluffy yellow pollen. It is fully ripe then.
  • 3. Use the Pollen - Remove the entire stamen and try using it as a small paintbrush to coat the stigma.
  • 4. Cover the Stigma with Pollen - Make sure you get plenty on it. Only the top/face is sticky.
  • 5. Remove the Flower Petals - Remove all stamens too. This may keep bees away.
  • 6. Repeat Cross - Better results can be had by repeating several times until a bead of liquid appears on stigma.
  • 7. Cover the Scape/Flower - This is the best way to keep bees away. Use light, porous material like Remay.

Possible reasons for failure to take:

  • 1. Excessive Heat - Temperatures over 80F can be high enough to make fertilization impossible.
  • 2. Excessive Moisture - Pollen degrades rapidly when wet and may be useless before fertilization occurs.
  • 3. Fertilization has already occurred - If there is a bead of liquid on the stigma, no more pollen will be accepted.
  • 4. Mother Plant is largely sterile - If seedlings are used, many hybrids show poor fertility. Keep trying.
  • 5. Mother Plant is too young - Some hostas set seed poorly when young but do better when older.
  • 6. Mother Plant is stressed - Some hostas do not set well when stressed by heat or dryness.
  • 7. Pollen Parent may be producing poor-quality Pollen - Some hybrids produce little or poor quality pollen.
  • 8. Insect Activity - Some insects will eat pollen right off an unprotected stigma, preventing fertilization.
  • 9. Damaged or Contorted Flower - Imperfect flowers may not be fertile, while others on scape are.
  • 10. Using plantagenia - This is a difficult species. Try mixing it's own pollen with what you're using.

Tips and Tricks:

  • 1. Saving Pollen - For a few weeks refrigerate, for longer freeze. It can last for years if frozen. Keep dry.
  • 2. Starting Plants Early - To move bloom time forward, start plants early. Keep cool as possible.
  • 3. Bring Pod Parents Indoors - This solves many problems and usually gives better pod set.
  • 4. Cross Siblings - This can accentuate the traits you are after.
  • 5. Use Vigorous Parents - Most named hostas are very vigorous compared to average seedlings.
  • 6. Use Parents that set Seed Easily - This will help with fertility in later generations.
  • 7. Look into what Others are doing - You can learn from their experiences. Most are friendly.
  • 8. Try many different Crosses - Not all will give good results. Some will lead to sterile lines.
  • 9. If a cross won't take, Experiment - Try moving the pod parent indoors. Also water it well.
  • 10. If a Cross doesn't work, try Again the next year - It may work fine under different circumstances.
  • 11. Acquire good Breeding Plants - Buy only plants that have a good reputation for breeding work.
  • 12. Fragrant Plant Pollen - Open anthers manually if pod parents are ready in morning.

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Bill Meyer tips, photo by Carol Brashear

*ABOUT SEED GROWING* written by Bill Nash

SPROUTING SEEDS SUCCESSFULLY -- Is no big deal. You can acquire your own green-thumb-degree, by simply researching 'Germination Requirements' for that ornamental plant-genus/species, which you wish to grow; and then, simply duplicate these needed conditions! Seeds from many ornamentals, Hostas for example, sprout nicely indoors, under normal house conditions; with air-temperature running sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Many other species also do well; and these, with no seed pre-treatment at all. Starting seed indoors under fluorescent lighting works wonderfully well.

GROWING MEDIUMS MUST BE STERILE -- These cannot be contaminated with the pathogenic fungus, mildew/mold-virus present in all outdoor soil, so you cannot use soil from your garden, without sterilization first. You can sterilize soil in your microwave, and this will stink up your kitchen badly, so do it in the garage, or outside. Sowing containers, and any other materials used with your seed sowing, should also be free of fungus. If you use un-cleaned sowing materials, which were lying around outside, then a white mildew (mold) will likely grow on the soil-surface, and when seeds sprout, these seedlings can rot away. This is called 'Damp Off'. Upon wetting your sowing, using a good fungicide solution like Benomyl and Benlate (Trade-names); same product: is a systemic fungicide (which enters the actual cells of plants?). This will likely solve your mildew potential problem, if your growing materials are not too badly contaminated with the fungus bacteria spores. (subnote) Benomyl - Benlate is an old product, so it may not be available today?

GROWING MEDIUMS -- Are available at all Nurseries; and buying a sterile pre-mixed soil, rather than trying to make your own; using un-sterile soil from outside, would be the wiser choice. Three basic ingredients go into most popular growing mediums sold; namely, shredded peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. Products are also available, designed for specific applications; be it sowing seeds, potting plants, rooting cuttings and so on. Pro Mix (Trade Name?) is one good example; and the 'BX' formula, suits all purposes, like potting, sowing seeds and rooting cuttings. Your can mix your own growing medium, using the three basic sterile ingredients mentioned above, and any ratio from 1-1-1 through to 3-2-1 per (peat-moss, vermiculite and perlite respectively?) will provide excellent results. Hosta seeds will also sprout very well in any one of the above ingredients (used alone?).

BONE MEAL IS A MAGIC NUTRIENT ELEMENT and I would like to recommend that every seedling grower, consider using this organic fertilizer, with every seed they sow. The key, to growing healthy plants, is to provide for excellent root development; and this is exactly, what Bone Meal provides for. Will be explained later.

SEED GERMINATION PERIOD -- The actual time it takes for seeds to send out their roots and sprouts appearing above the growing medium, is known as the 'Germination Period'. This varies, with different plant species. The soil-temperature, which the seed sits in, plays an important role; as to how long it will take the seed to sprout and whether the seed will sprout at all. The germination-time for hosta-seed to show sprouts is fourteen days (two weeks) after sowing; give or take a few days. If you happen to see sprouts showing before this time period, then by all means: place the sowing into lighting. It has been reported that hosta sprouts have been seen as early as seven days after sowing.

COVERING HOSTA SEEDS VERSES SURFACE SOWING -- The roots, come out of the seed first therefore; I would recommend, sprinkling just enough of your growing medium over top of sown seeds until you cannot see any seeds lying on the surface of your growing medium (fine vermiculite is good too use also, as your seed covering medium?). There has been some heavy debate, in hosta assemblies: related to surface sowing verses burying the seed. Surface sowing, makes no sense to me, because the roots will be lying on top of your growing medium when the seed sprouts hence, you will need to shove these roots back into the soil, somehow? I feel, just covering the seed slightly, say three times its flat thickness: is the best way to sow hosta seeds, since roots will take hold, as soon as they come out of the seed, with no need to stick them into the soil.

BOTTOM WATERING -- Using a drip-less bottom tray, for your sowing containers to sit in, prevents water leakage; and also allows for bottom tray watering, since every sowing container you use: should have holes in the bottom for proper drainage. The genus Hosta, is a very special flower species, not only because it grows forever seemingly, by being a true perennial ornamental; and being, winter hardy into Zone 3 winter climates (. i.e. 30 degrees of frost?). Hostas also, can sit directly in water at the sowing stage of germination; and later growth even, when seedlings are potted up. Potted hostas, can sit directly in water: without succumbing to root rot, as many other plant species cannot. This means, you can mix water-soluble fertilizer with every watering; and simply pour it into your bottom tray, for the plants to suck it up continually and as they need to, in hydroponicslike style? Hostas grow the fastest, sitting in water and nutrient all of the time.

INCUBATION OF A SEED SOWING will be a good idea, whenever one is growing large quantities of seedlings inside their house. The bottom watering procedure mentioned above; about having hostas sitting in water all the time: can raise your house humidity levels to disaster levels, during the winter. Whenever outdoor temperatures go below the frost line; you can have water running down your windows and walls; and even have mildew growing in your closets, if the house humidity moves too high (above fifty percent?). To counteract the humidity problem, one can put their sowing trays inside clear plastic bags and Zip-Locks (trade-name?) are good for this. Plastic domes are also available for greenhouse trays. Plus, by sealing your sowing, this means, you will not need to water again, for a long time, when the bag is sealed air tight; and when, you have put bone meal nutrient into your growing medium. The sealed sowing procedure is risky to do, since any presence of the mildew spores, will simply take off growing madly in the high humidity tropic like environment. However, once a method of growing has been established, one can even grow seedlings without having to transplant and planting directly outdoors from the sown trays.

EATING FOOD IS A PLANT HABIT TOO Please excuse my anthropomorphic referral to plants eating like animals do however; if and when, one is using a soil-less growing medium, which is deficient of plant nutrients (fertilizer?) then one cannot grow the plants very long without giving them some food to eat ( i.e. nutrient fertilizer to ingest?), in order to grow properly! You can open your sealed growing container; mist plants with a water-soluble fertilizer-nutrient (a quarter of the recommended strength, say once a week?) and reseal again. Liquid fish formula fertilizers, are the best: since nutrient is readily available to plants, moving through leaf pores; and with, no leaf-burning effect. Most fishy fertilizers stink badly, so look for the bottle which says: perfumed. Bone Meal, is another super-fertilizer, totally organic, and which, I already advised everyone to mix-it with your seed-sowing and growing-medium with all seed you sow. You shall see why at the end of this writing.

HOSTA SEEDLING SELECTING, NOT -- There is not much to look for and/or select, from study of a monochrome; one-solid-leaf-colored first year hosta-seedling, so there is no point trying to isolate the plants you wish to keep, until seedlings are into their second year of growth, or better yet, do your final selection, when the seedlings are fully mature; years later? In the first year of a seedling's lifetime, keeping as many as possible alive and well, is the only consideration worth noting. However, with plants coming from streaky-leaf multi-colored pod-parents (streaky kids resulting?) it is a different story and we shall go into this later.

ABOUT SOWING CONTAINERS -- standard plastic greenhouse flats: measuring 11-inches wide; 22-inches in length; about 3-inches deep: are available with or without holes in the bottom. Also available are plastic sowing-tray inserts having 10 to 20 pre-formed rows to sow into; and these, fit nicely into the standard greenhouse tray. Cell packs are also available, to put inside these trays, and many use these for their sowing containers. A clear plastic dome; is also available, which fits directly over these; available in three-inch high and six inch tall domes. See your local Greenhouse Supplier for the above products. This method of sowing, provides excellent result.

ALGAE AND FUNGUS GNAT PREVENTION -- Using boiled-water, in your wetting of a sowing and growing of seedlings: prevents Fungus Gnat infestation. It also prevents algae growth on soil surfaces.

USING FLUORESCENT LIGHTING There are two ways of growing hosta seedlings: 1). Professional Style; that is to say: to produce plants as quickly as possible; doing anything and everything, to maximize growth excellence; and sparing no expense to have this done. 2). The amateur seedling grower, simply wants to start some seedlings indoors, as cheaply as possible, to have something to transplant outside, when warm weather arrives.

Professional Seedling Growers -- would use continuous lighting (no dark periods?); right from the sprouted stage of growth. Lights would run non-stop, (never turned off?) until seedlings are moved to the outdoor environment (greenhouse included?). Any hosta seedling, sown before the first week of January; can flower eight months later hence, this provides opportunity for hosta breeders to get their next seed generation, within a given year, so you can see: why this type of seedling grower, spares no expense! They may use expensive high intensity fixtures and/or other added lighting types, to provide full spectrum lighting; in conjunction with greenhouses, since their objectives are not comparable to an amateur grower.

Amateurs -- can run fluorescent lighting on a timer; having a 'Photo Period' (light: on-off time?) on a 12-12 ratio of light- dark, by hours in a day. This will sustain adequate growth to have starter plants, to go outside later.

CREATING AN IDEAL GROWTH CHAMBER -- Hydroponicsshops sell mirror-like foil; from a four foot wide roll, and sell this by the foot length. Lining the sides around your growing area; will maximize light-reflection within the growing chamber and contain all light exactly where you want it. Using such mirror-like reflectors, will permit you to have light bulbs two to three feet above the shelf, which will triple your growing area space and quantity of plants grown. All light is contained within the growing area via mirror-like foil. The cost factor of running, one four-foot, two-bulb fluorescent-light-fixture, on a non-stop continuous-light exposure basis (no dark/OFF period?) is: 1.820 of the price you pay for electricity, per kilowatt hour of electricity usage charge. Considering, that this single light fixture, can provide you with a growing area two feet by four feet (eight square feet) of growing space. And you can place FOUR standard greenhouse flats (crosswise?) in this space.. And each standard greenhouse tray can contain 1000 to 1500 seeds (6000 seeds under one fixture?) - - THEN the only cheaper-method? -- to consider is:

SOWING SEEDS DIRECTLY OUTDOORS -- and different kinds of perennial-seeds, sown directly outdoors, when soil temperature is below 42 degrees Fahrenheit -- Sown in autumn? -- Will sprout as we move into summer, and as soon as soil temperature moves above 42 degrees Fahrenheit. This 42 degree-factor is magic one: hosta seed and plants want to grow above this temperature, while they move into dormancy and do not grow, below it. Hosta-seedlings sown and sprouted outdoors will grow large enough, to survive the next coming winter. Other perennial seed types, which require stratification particularly (moist freezing?) before they will sprout; are particularly good, to sow directly outside, say in November, just before the ground freezes, or early Spring, when night frosts, can still do the stratification for you. As examples: Dicentra genus (Bleeding Hearts), which requires stratification to sprout the seed, do well sprouting, when this seed is sown the autumn before, or early spring time. These are also nice companion ornamentals for hostas; being shade tolerant, and very early springtime flowering. Bleeding Hearts are also great to grow to provide shade for hosta-seed you've sown under and beside them. Putting a two to three inch layer of peat moss, over your existing garden soil (with bone meal added to it?) will act as a bit of a mulch against weed-seed sprouting; and also, provide an excellent germination base, for whatever seed you wish to sow directly outside. An easy method of doing this is: to simply run your hoe across the garden bed, making a trench about three/four inches deep. Fill the trench with peat moss; add bone meal; sow your seed and cover seeds with more peat-moss. The biggest problem with this kind of outdoor sowing is weed-seeds also-sprout; and if you think, that weeding can be a pain, then just forget it. The weeds will grow ten times faster than first year hosta seedlings sprouting and this provides the needed shading for your hosta-kids, in their first year of growth, so just forget about weeding for now. An easy method of growing hosta seedlings: in the shadow of the weeds. This kind of direct outdoor sowing opens the doorway, to grow hosta seedlings under or beside your already established ornamentals growing in your garden. It allows for multiple-cropping i.e.. Sowing annuals to provide shading for the first year hosta-seedlings; and the annual type crop will be gone in second year, while hosta true perennial type, WILL BE! And this, double cropping or letting the weeds grow: allows for hosta sowing beds, directly in full sun positioning. Most important, an outdoor sowing procedure, provides for the sprouting of millions of hosta-seeds, of a given hosta type, to find and obtain, that unknown 'Gene- Pool Hosta -Type". A very famous hosta-grower, told me one time: that all hosta types are contained within the hosta gene-pool, and this, can only be arrived at and seen: by growing large quantities of seedlings from a given type. We were discussing the feasibility and methods of growing millions of seedlings of given hosta types, and the potential of obtaining streak breeders from same, doing the sowing and growing directly outdoors. I've done this procedure with H. sieboldiana Elegans, -- (50,000 plants were sprouted) -- nine striated and mottled plants resulted!

HOSTA SEED SOWING AND STORAGE: -- Plastic film cartridge containers (Available free from any Film Shop?) are ideal for seed-storage. They hold 1000 to 1500 hosta-seeds, depending on size. Sowing a full film-canister in each Standard-sized sowing-tray is about the right amount (using sowing containers, mentioned above?). An average germination (33%) will provide three to four hundred plants per tray. And when you sow your hostaseed: please keep in mind, that germination from variety to variety 'Is-Very-Irregular' and there are not many types, which come anywhere near 80% germination. You will not get a plant from every seed you sow therefore, sprinkle the seed very thickly (seeds touching; over top of each other) since you will more than likely, be getting one plant for every five seeds you put down, if that? If they come up too thick, you can transplant to thin them out. Folding a thin piece of cardboard, pouring seed into the fold, and then tapping it with your forefinger, is an easy method of sowing. If you mix some bone meal with the seed, your germination may be a two-fold result in sprouted plants. I'll tell you why later.

STORING HOSTA-SEED PROPERLY -- Film cartridge containers, are ideal for seed storage, since they seal items kept inside AIRTIGHT. Pollen can also be stored-frozen in film canisters, for later pollination use. It has been reported that hosta-seeds, will sprout plants twenty years later, when stored frozen and kept INSIDE AIR-TIGHT CONTAINERS to prevent freezer burn. Leaving hosta seed out in the open, in a normal house condition, results in germination diminishing, even after a few weeks. Storing hosta-seed in the crisper-section of a fridge, running at 45* Fahrenheit, is not nearly good enough either, since this seed will be dead dry after one year. If we are to conceptualize, that a hosta-seed contains a live entity within it; and which, we refer to as the Germination Factor. We know that this live germination-core: is not hindered by freezing, but it can become dead-dry, sitting out openly in the warm and dry conditions of our homes; and this can happen, in just a few months. This should suggest to everyone reading this, that storing hosta seeds in a frozen state until used, is the only way to keep your hosta-seeds. The seed must be contained within an air-tight container, to prevent long term Freezer Burning; and as such, the live sprouting factors, will remain in a suspended animation like state: germinating plants even twenty years later.

COLLECT YOUR OWN HOSTA-SEEDS -- There are not many seed-catalogues, which offer hosta-seed for purchase; and those which do, have not gone to the trouble of storing their hosta seed frozen, to preserve germination factors therefore, in most cases, this seed is totally dried-out and will not sprout plants for you. The option open to hosta growers, is to collect your own seed. If you do not cut-off spent flower-stems, you will notice (in most cases?) that seedpods are sitting there. The seedpod stems are green, and most seedpods likewise, with hosta-type exceptions. The seed is ripe, when the seedpod color has changed from green, to yellow, to brown, and bottom pods begin to split open. The minimum ripening time, is still being debated, but the previous line, is a good measuring stick to use to collect ripe hosta-seeds. I would say, that the earliest time, hosta seed can be ripened to provide for viable germination of it's seed, via artificial means done indoors is eight to ten weeks, my having done this. Collecting your own seed gets even more interesting, since it does not take long, before such a hosta-enthusiast, collecting her/his own seed, will want to make a self and/or cross-pollination on flowers. AND as soon as this is done, the Seedling-Grower becomes a Breeder-hybridizer -- and making new hosta hybrids -- is the most challenging, exciting and most rewarding gardening pursuit of all.

MAKING NEW HOSTA HYBRIDS and 'The Art of Hybridizing Hostas' -- is not so very complicated and really is quite a simple matter: once a few basic Genetic Lawsare known and understood. The easiest way, to illustrate the required discipline needed, to produce whatever hosta-types of offspring results you may wish to see, from seed, is to look at The Benedict Cross(+). Just visualize a cross as having a circle around it; like a Wheel, a compass, or Clock. Simply stated, the Benedict (+) Crossplaces all hosta leaf-forms by-coloring, onto this conceptualized drawing.

--> Very center of the cross = ALL Striated leaf types
--> Very top of cross; 12'oclock position, North = all-green solid color types (blue-green included)
--> Very left of cross; 9'oclock; West = all center leaf variegated hosta types.
--> Very right of cross; East = all types having marginated leaf-edging.

You can have whichever kind of the hosta-types you see above, from seed growing, so how do we do this? Let's look at:

THE FIRST GENETIC LAW OF INHERITANCE, which everyone should keep in mind and remember, hopefully? ONLY the streaky-leaf pod-parent MOTHER-PLANTS, provide for multi-colored streaky and variegated seedlings. The other hosta-forms, illustrated in the Benedict Crossabove, are STABLE leaf-color hosta-types and these produce, single leaf colored kids (seedlings?) as a general rule; and these are always solid one leaf color seedlings (monochrome-colored) as a general rule.

METHODS OF POLLINATION - The easiest method of pollination, is to let the BEES do it for you; and this, is not exactly a laughing matter re: let the bees do it for you. Some very well known Breeders in our world today, resort to this method. They may block-plant (in massive groups) those types, which they want bee-pollinated; doing this by planting in close proximity of each other, and if these bloom at the same time, the bees do a fairly good job of self-pollination and crossing-pollen, from one flower to another. The bees generally-always go into the flowers, starting with bottom florets and flying higher up the flowering-spike hence, bee-pollination is mostly a self-pollination. Self-pollination, does also induce hybrid-vigor therefore; it makes sense why the self-pollination was designed this way by Nature. To have, 100% accurate cross-pollination, the only way this can be done: is to remove the floret-petals and pollen-containing-sacs (stamens) removed just before the floret opens. This removes the landing-pad that bees use to enter the floret. In most cases, the flower which has its petals cut away, before the flower opens, is not quite ready to receive pollen yet, but this can be done the following day, since the chance of bee-pollination has been removed. Going outside, in early morning and say at sunrise, and doing pollination on newly opened florets, using artist's brushes, is also a good method of doing crosses. Trying to pollinate in mid-day to late afternoon, is impossible, since the bees have already done the pollination for you. There is all kind of tricks in hand crossing; and each breeder, generally uses his own method of doing it. Some breeders use tweezers, to apply the actual pollen sac from one flower to another. Others may use artists brushes. Any pollination method is suitable, as long as the job you want done? Gets done!

MAKING LABELS WHICH LAST FOREVER -- It is important, to have good labels, on your hosta seedlings, since some very slow growing hosta seedlings (say for example, very highly-variegated types, with little chlorophyll in leaf-cells?) can take six to seven years of growing, before you will see their mature form. Using plastic labels; sold at most Nurseries; and writing on these, using a waterproof marker, is not nearly good enough! Outdoor elements make such a label unreadable, within one year. The sun's rays make the plastic brittle and consequently, they break. Use of metal labels, with writing put on it via Electric Engraver, is the only way I do this. Aluminum house siding is being scrapped to make way for the new vinyl siding on homes. Good metal cutting sheers, can make any shape or size of label you need? And cutting the pedigree data right into this metal is like almost evermore? Or as long as you shall need to pull and read that label, a great many years later. Even aluminum pop cans, very thin aluminum; and easy to cut up into labels: is better to use than plastic. You can scratch your identification parent-info, with carbide tipped Scriber. Using aluminum labels, means, they will not rust; and this kind of label making, will make plants identifiable per pedigree information, as long as needed.


How to get, multi-colored and variegated hosta-leaves from seed.

Hosta Hybridizers & Hosta Seedling Growers -- must use seeds collected from those pod-parent Mothers: having streaky-striated leaves to get variegated multi-colored seedling-progeny resulting. This hosta-form, or leaf-type, is an 'UNSTABLE HOSTA FORM' by it's very leaf-color nature. As such, only these striated-leaf hosta-types (the unstable form): shall provide for streaky-leaf offspring results (and similar to Maternal Aspect (pod-parent) by leaf-coloring?). A "striated-leaf" on a hosta (by definition?), can be yellow in color, or green-colored (blue-green included?); with splashes and streaks of yellow and/or white, in the leaf; and with, no particular pattern in the striation of colors. These kinds of hostas, striated by leaf coloring, produce similar streaky leafed-kids from seed, but only when they are used as the pod-parent (not as the pollen parent!) traditionally speaking; and with no consideration given to luck and chance.

ON SEEDLING RESULTS: coming from STABLE-hosta leaf-forms/colors; these only produce monochrome seedlings (one single solid colored leaf-form) in their kids. The "stable" hosta-leaf-form/colors are as follows:

1).. A single leaf-color of yellow or green (blue-green included?) and referred to as being monochrome. Stable form.
2).. Leaf-edging marginated in white or yellow; surrounding a yellow or green leaf (blue-green included) a stable form.
3).. Center-leaf-variegation of white or yellow and known as 'MEDIO VARIEGATED' hostas. The stable MEDIOS, are the most interesting hostas, by my opinion, since the multi-colored leaf-aspect, can go beyond the two color spectrum range, and usually is exactly that. One can have a center-leaf-coloring of yellow and white shades, and this, can be surrounded by several different shades of green (blue green inclusive?). This kind of multi-color combination within a single hosta-leaf; can be seen in a hosta-cultivar example known as H. Choko Nishiki (and/or H. 'On Stage', being the exact same plant!). Likewise: June/Great Expectations; and most other medio-typed hostas, also show this same-kind of multi-coloring in leaf effect. Please do not confuse the above, with those white center leaf colored hostas; for example, Night Before Christmas, these are a different sort of center leaf variegation altogether.

STREAK ASPECT WILL SORT-ITSELF-OUT, sooner or later -- THE striated-leaf hosta-types (seedlings, or even bought streaky cultivars?) do become and/or will eventually show: stable hosta leaf-forms within their single clump, in time; and likely, at their matured stage of growth. As the single stemmed eye-plant clumps-up into a matured specimen (say for example, becoming a large multi-eyed plant, on a single root-crown?): then these seedlings, OR cultivars, will show different kinds of eye-shoots within this single root-crown. STREAK (please keep in mind?): is not a stable hosta leaf-aspect, and in time, it *SORTS-ITSELF-OUT*. It's splashy-leaf-aspect: begins to show any of the HOSTA STABLE FORMS, or even all of them, as new leaves appear. This can even happen in an early stage of striated seedling's life-time. Like at the fourth leaf stage of a streaky kids growing, it can all of a sudden begin putting up leaves from it's very center of the stem, and these can be solid green; that is to say, the streaked seedling has become green stable, so trash it! The striated leaf form, which one started with, is usually still present within the single crowned hosta-clump at maturity however, if and when, most of the clump has stabilized into a monochrome-green color, then this, can choke out the streak completely, due to the faster growing nature of green cells via photosynthesis verses, the slow growth nature, of highly variegated hostas.

At the mature and multi-stemmed; clumped-up stage of growth; one usually has different kinds of eye-shoots, by their leaf-coloring; and all of these, are contained within a single, matured, hosta root-crown. By the propagation process known as root/rhizome-division, one can isolate any particular hosta-leaf type one likes, and propagate that stable types one chooses. It might be a good idea -- to become aware of eye and leaf-bud division also; and a preamble explanation to this kind of hosta-propagation, can be seen at the Hosta Internet Library, located at: www.hostalibrary.org

*HOW DOES ONE GET THE BEST VARIEGATED SEEDLINGS OUT OF A SOWN STREAK-PRODUCING SEED-BATCH?*; and this, is the ultimate challenge to all hosta seedling growers and hybridizers, interested in producing new variegated hostas from seed.

Objectively speaking: what is it that a seedling-grower, or hybridizer: is looking to find via growing streaky-leaf seedlings; and how will she/he go about finding this? Firstly, IMHO (in my honest opinion): everyone's ultimate objective in growing multi-colored, streak-variegated-leafed hosta-seedlings, goes something like this (as I see it?): We all want to get as far away as possible; from the monochrome-green-leaf-aspect -- and we do desire to move as close as possible to pure-white and the multi-colored-leaves (As much is humanly possible to grow?). PURE white leaves, do not survive to grow beyond the first leaf-sprout-stage, due to lack of green cells to perform needed photosynthesis, so then, how are we to accomplish this task!" you might ask? Fact of the matter is, the ultimate objective, as I put above: has already been done by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery ( www.plantdel.com ) via Mr. Avent's introduction of 'Out House Delight' hosta; and it's subsequent seedling siblings, like White Wall Tires - hosta. These hostas, unfurl pure-white looking leaves in spring-time; they flourish and grow: coming back year after year, cycles of growth continue; and these white-leafed-hostas, become mature specimens, in time.


Whenever a given seedling-batch is sown; using streak producing seeds ( i.e. THAT seed coming from a pod-parent Hosta-mother; having stripes of white running up it's green flower stem; and also having, striated leaves; and very likely, multi-colored streaky seed-pods likewise?) then: the resulting seedlings will show striated leaves popping up at the very first leaf of the sprout-stage. Of course we must remember, that the seed which is sprouting monochrome-green kids, is also sprouting plants from seed (and green color is a dominant gene pool factor?). Solid-colored green-kids grow a lot quicker, than those highly variegated forms and even "pure white looking-leaves" which we are after, to grow into full maturity HENCE, the green kids must be removed and trashed. At the first and second leaf stage, we remove all of the monochrome-green sprouts, since we are after the "Cream de la Creme!" of this seedling-crop (the best multi-colored-leaf variegates!)? This can be done with tweezers (pulling them out), or scissor-snipping them off at the root-soil level. Care must be taken, in doing this green-leaf culling: to not disturb any of those highly variegated types, which may be just beginning to send up their first leaf-sprout. If this culling is not done, odds are, that the faster growing monochrome-green-plants, will choke out the highly recessive and much slower growing white/yellow-in-leaf types. The removal of the green seedlings, provides room for the multi-colored sprouts, to grow and flourish! The greenery, taken out: can be transplanted or trashed, as you wish; and I recommend, the latter.

PURE-white-leaf appearing-sprouts, normally will melt away and die; as soon as, the seed-core embryo: stops feeding that first leaf; and if, they do not have enough green-cells within same, to photosynthesize their chlorophyll growth function. If however, the seedling batch is growing inside a rather ideal growing environment, as per humidity, temperature and lighting -- Then it will be seen -- that even some of those white-looking leaves: do survive! They move into their second and third leaf stages and grow. I would like to suggest, that these will be your most attractive hosta specimens, if you can grow them into maturity. From this explanation, it should be seen: why it is very important to remove the monochrome-green sprouts VERY CAREFULLY; and with tender loving care, for those highly variegated kids, which we are after in this seedling growing, in the first place. They may not have even sprouted yet, being much slower in sprouting and growing, than the greenery already there. OUR FIRST OBJECTIVE, was to find and isolate the most highly variegated hosta seedlings, and the above explains exactly how this is done.

STABLE HOSTA-FORM ISOLATION and propagation of same at the mature stage of a streaky seedling's growth stage:

---> Conceptualize and picture: a matured hosta clump, having say 20 separate 'Eye-shoots' on a single root-crown? Some of these eye-shoots can have: all green leaves; others show white or yellow margins on leaves; some are center leaf variegated leaves and even an all yellow leaf type may be seen there? "Ah ha?" You see: the striated-leaf-form, which you started with, is also in that clump! You can isolate and propagate any type you see and like, within this clump. So how do you do this?

In MID-August or early-September, cut all of the leaves off of the plant, leaving about a two-inch leaf-stem sticking up. Dig the plant out of the ground. Wash all the dirt from the roots. Take the plant to your favorite MEAT SHOP, and have them, put this huge meaty-root-crown through their meat-slicer. You want root-crown-pieces coming out of slicer: at about half-inch sized square-pieces of crown-meat? Take these pieces of plant-meat (crown pieces?) back to your preferred growing bed and plant them! The next year, you shall see each meat-piece (of the root-crown?) producing eye-plants for you.

[IMPORTANT SUBNOTE] -- I hope that, you reading my meat-slicer procedure above -- DID NOT take me serious about having a 'Meat Shop Slicing Machine' do the hosta-rhizome-division for you -- using a meat-slicer? HOWEVER, that is almost exactly what we do: when we put the knife to a hosta root-crown and rhizome: to isolate specific hosta forms; and propagate further. Every hosta-form: we saw explained via the Benedict Cross (+) can be present in a single matured hosta clump; and which, starts out as a striated-leaf form.

ABOUT CROWN PIECES PRODUCING PLANTS -- Each piece of the crown, even without roots attached: does in fact, develop roots and grows. AnY cut- parts of the crown, will form a bud; becoming an eye; and this eye sends up an eye-plant: in it's next successive growing cycle. I think the plant-world call this "Self-preservation of my species?" but they keep it to themselves and their Lord Almighty?

It might be a good idea, to obtain some rooting hormone powder, preferably having fungicide within it, and/or a good systemic fungicide like Benomyl/benlate (trade-name) to brush onto all cut-portions of the crown, else soaking your cuttings in a systemic fungicide solution is good too!..and probably better? Dipping one's clean cutting kniffe, into fungicide powder or rooting hormone with fungicide contained in it; and dipping before each cut: is also a good practice, since this disinfects the wound of rotting later.

MAXIMIZING PROPAGATION at a hosta's dormant stage...

If you go outside right now, and if, the ground is not frozen yet (this being mid-December?): then you can propagate your favorite-hosta to it's maximum potential: RIGHT NOW! If the ground is frozen, grab that fellow in front of your house, whom is putting a jack-hammer to the pavement, to get through it, and get him to dig some of your prized hosta-roots out of the ground for you? Drop these into your bath-tub and have a cool shower while you're in there making love to your favorite hosta? Pull off frozen leaves and wash all the dirt off of the plants. You will see, that there are a great many buds sitting up on the rhizome/roots. These bullet-like protrusions, are white by their coloring, since they were under the ground outside. Each of these buds, will send up an eye-plant in it's next growth-cycle therefore, your bud/eye-division can go right down to a single eye-plant, if you can handle going all the way, to get as many plants as you possibly can. Otherwise, divide the clump, in pieces containing three to six bud/eyes per divided piece, with some roots attached, naturally. The easy starting point, is to cut the the clump in half, half the half, half the quarter, half the eighth, and so on -- just like cutting a pie or cake *LAUGH*

STORAGE OF DORMANT HOSTAS: If you happen to have a spare fridge, which can be set to run at say 37 degrees Fahrenheit (plus or minus four degrees?) then your cuttings (or the whole plant, after giving it a needed bath?) can be placed inside plastic bag; packed inside your sterile & moist growing medium; and put in the fridge for a dormancy period of six to eight weeks minimum, and until you want to restart it, or all winter long if you like. Then they can be potted-up and grown under lights, sunny windows, or greenhouse for restarting earlier, whenever you like. Or you can take a trip down to Florida and plant them there. Or they can be potted, at the time the rhizome surgery was done, and kept moist inside their cold storage treatment, that is to say, if you have somewhere which provides the needed space, to keep potted dormant hosta divisions in cold storage. If you don't have a spare fridge, in your garage, go out and get one: a good working used fridge can be had for less than some good hosta-types are selling for?

When one does the above propagation procedure; and say for example, the hosta one is working with: is just a single eye-shoot (one stem?) say a newly acquired or a young hosta-plant? And say for example, there are two, white, bud-eyes, on each side of this single eye-shoot rhizome? By lying the roots on a table, parting her root-hairs, and splitting the rhizome in half, one has in fact two plants which will sprout in the next growth cycle. Plus the cut-part of the plant-crown, will form new budding eyes (self preservation remember?) and this will be up and growing more plants, in subsequent growth cycles. There is even more humor to this kind of propagation and further to what I've written, like when one aims the surgery on isolation of each bullet-like-looking bud, it will be seen later on; in the re-growing cycle, that more than one eye-plant pops up to grow, because you missed some hidden small bud/eyes. Multi-eye-plants do results, and these can be divided again, in the next immediate growth cycle, to get more plants. The point here was, to show how easy it is to propagate hostas: right now; in the springtime and/or in late summer, or for that matter, whenever you may like to do it: if you have a cold storage place to store the rhizomes inside, during the hosta dormancy period. Considering what you've learned above: Who needs Tissue Culture Labs, to propagate hostas for us?


*A Bill Nash special seed-sowing tip, and then some!* -- to provide for the best possible germination and growth of newly started seedlings (used with all seeds sown and all growing mediums used anywhere; indoors or outside) -- sprinkle a bit of BONE MEAL powder -- over top of the seeds, just before covering seeds with growing medium and wetting. Better yet, mix some bone meal, in with your growing medium also. Don't forget to do this outside too, if you get into direct outdoor sowing.

This information, comes from experimental trials: of applying ground-up Bone Meal Powder, verses, Super Phosphate powder application; and verses, no seed treatment at all in the sowing of hosta-seeds. These trials were sown in similar fashion, same time, same growing medium (soil-less) and using identical hosta-seed type and identical growing conditions. THIS HAS PROVEN: that by simply sprinkling a bit of Bone Meal powder over top of sown seeds, this provides for the best germination results possible; and also having, the healthiest looking seedlings. The resulting hosta-seedling germination quantity: was two-fold that of untreated seed; that is to say, seed which had no nutrient fertilizer added to it.

BONE MEAL: is a pure organic fertilizer, having a nutrient fertilizer-element composition of 2-11-0: (Nitrogen=2%, Phosphorus (phosphate)=11%, Potassium= zero percent.

Super Phosphate: (0-20-0) has a fertilizer-element content of 20 percent phosphorus/phosphate (nothing else).

The application of Bone Meal, showed much better results than Super Phosphate treatment with seed-sowing trial. The two percent Nitrogen, contained in Bone Meal, acts like a needed helper to work with the phosphate, hand-in-hand so to speak (catalyst-like?) and hence, provided the best overall results; and which, showed me: that this extra trouble of sprinkling a bit of bone meal over top of sown seeds, is well worth this extra work/effort!

In this experiment, the Super Phostphate application experiment, provided a better result than non treated seeds, but was not as good as the bone meal application experiment hence, the nitrogen content within bone meal, was the needed catalyst which provided the best germination and growth effects overall.


...and quoting from a book titled 'BEDDING PLANTS' (published by the American Grower's Association) 1976

[QUOTE] -- Phosphorus (P): This fertilizer-element is related closely to vital growth processes of plants. Like N (nitrogen?) it is part of the amino acids and proteins that form the structural framework of the protoplast. It is a catalyst in the energy transfer and is involved in the conversion of starch to sugar. Phosphates act as buffers to maintain satisfactory conditions of acidity and alkalinity in plant cells. P (phosphorus?) is of special importance in the germination of seeds, in the metabolism of seedlings, and in the development of roots. Plant roots absorb phosphorus as phosphate. The plant in large quantities does, not use this Phosphate, but it is essential to have a constant supply. The functions of P (phosphate) and N (nitrogen) in the plant are related closely. Plants absorb phosphates more rapidly when N (nitrogen) is present in the soil mix. [END QUOTE] [SUBNOTE] and this is how and why: the Bone Meal application experiment on seed-sowing (having 11 percent Phosphorus AND WITH 2 percent Nitrogen fertilizer nutrient-element contained in the Bone Meal?) and by, direct comparison to Phosphate, which has 20 percent Phosphorus/phosphate, but no Nitrogen element contained at all, to provide for the needed catalyst therefore, the sprinkling of Bone Meal with seed-sowing: does provide for the best germination and plant growth possible! The bone-meal seed treated germination showed: a two-fold quantity of sprouted plants, by direct comparison to seed-sown, which had no additive nutrient-element provided at all!

[FINAL] The most intriguing aspect, of this bone meal additive experiment, with seed-sowing; and related to this particular experiment, was seen in and by the results of the particular kind of hosta-seed-type that was used in these trials. The seed used in all of these trials was: my (Bill Nash) hosta seed-strain, known as and code-named LET'S STREAK - F5. This hosta-seed, was collected from the fourth Filial generation (F4) seedlings, of an originating hosta named "Crepe Suzette" (the unstable, striated leaf form?); and having it's STREAK-GENE-POOL in-bred previously for four successive generations. Further to this, all of this seed used was a *SSS-SEED-SELECTION* caliber/type. The "sss-factor" means: seed came from seedling's showing/having: STRIPES ON SCAPES (white lines/stripes running in/on green flower stems; STREAKY multi-colored seed-pods; as well as having STRIATED leaf-form. This kind of SSS-seed selection and scape-pollination: guarantees striated-leaf seedling results; and this is seen, at the very first leaf sprouting stage, coming from the seed having the streak-aspect dominant within.

[SUBNOTE] IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO NOTE HERE: that there is a reverse kind of factor, of the above SSS kind of seed-selection criteria, and which, we use to do the above kind of seed-selection to obtain streakyleafed-kids; and let me try to explain what I mean by this?

Most hostas, having center-leaf-variegated/medio-leaf-variegation: do put up white-colored scapes (flower stems?) and seed-pods are similar by coloring likewise. These kind of hostas (as pod-parents?) try to reproduce all colors contained within the medio-coloring of it's leaf, (a Motherly/maternal-aspect of reproduction?) but the resulting kids, are mostly monochrome-leaf (one color?) by dominance when the medio form is stable in nature. There is a *HOWEVER? *

By experimental trials, already done by a volunteer elf-helper of mine (Mr. Robert Peter Clark) as well as my own, I would like to say THAT IF? -- --> You see white-colored flower-scapes; having nice-green-lines (Stripes?). Running in/on these flower stems; as well as seed-pod-coloring being green-lined/striped on white-pods likewise then...

--> This has already shown us: by seed-sprouting trial-results done by Bob Clark in Michigan and myself...
--> that streaky/mottled seedlings DO RESULT!

The specific hosta used in this experiment, is a brand new seedling-selection by yours truly; and named *Prince Peter*, to honor all those princely-ELF-fellows out there; towhit and that is, R. Peter Clark and another son Pete living in England. This Prince Peter hosta, is not registered, nor available for purchase anywhere on this planet, being in the experimental/trial stage as all Bill Nash selections are. This is a selected seedling derivative of Breeder's Choise hosta (arriving via line in'breeding?). It can be seen at Mr. Robert Axmear's *OPEN TO THE PUBLIC -- Internet Hosta Library* at the web-site: www.hostalibrary.org


I personally, found it mindboggling, to say the least? When I compared the resulting seedling samples of my Let's Streak seed-sowing, within the bone-meal verses phosphorus verses no-nutrient-element usage at all? The bone-meal-additive trial, showed a much higher survival-rate: of those highly variegated first-leaf-up types (The ASPECT: of moving away from all-green over to all-white criteria?) hence, ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT: -->> The use of bone meal in a seed-sowing, provides a needed nutrient-catalyst to help those highly variegated seed's-sprouting (mostly white/yellow leaf-variegated/colored forms; and lacking in, green cells?). And this, helps them growth-compete against their sibling sister/brother-seedlings (the all-green first-leaf-sprouts?) which usually choke them out, before the variegates can move into their second and successive leaf-growth stages. <> *laugh* [WARNING SUBNOTE] only a tiny bit of bone meal powder sprinkled over seeds is recommended by above procedure; and putting too much, shall burn the sprouts!

I HOPE somebody finds the above helpful; and entertaining too, perhaps? After all *LAUGHTER* <-- is all that really matters /B>)) bill nash

Growing hostas from seed can be extremely easy and far less complicated than it may first seem.

We have a private hosta nursery with hundreds of varieties growing in extremely close proximity to each other. It's a perfect hotbed of open pollination activity. Simply out of curiosity we have started planting the seeds with great germination success.

In the fall we harvest the dried/opening seed pods and crumple them directly into a #1, #2, or #5 nursery container prepared with our typical nursery potting mix. We use the basic midwest peat/sand/pinebark nursery mix. As Bill Nash pointed out it would be good to add bone meal to this mix. A side note to soil mixes and sterilization... If you are working indoors you need sterilizated soils. If you are working outdoors in the elements it is much less of a concern. We reuse soils as amendments and dirty pots as needed. With sturdy crops like hostas we have yet to see evidence of pathogens. Introduction of weed seeds seems to be the biggest concern with using garden soil and reused soils in the potting mixes.

We have good luck crumpling up 4 to 6 or 7 seed pods per #1 pot, directly in the fall at harvest time. We surface sow the seed (pod residue and all) and let the water in thoroughly. The pots are then labeled and put under irrigation in groupings with the other existing nursery stock. The watering and irrigation does a fair job of mixing the seed into the top layer of potting mix. On a side note to surface sowing, when the little rootlet first emerges it hugs the soil surface very tightly and then goes straight down with gravity as soon as it possibly can. In my opinion both ways (surface sowing and covering) work provided there is adequate irrigation.

When winter comes we cover the potted up seeds just like the other nursery stock under microfoam and poly.

Come spring we tip everything back up and get the irrigation going again. Into May you will find pots with hundreds or thousands little hosta seedlings growing like crazy!

Home hobby hybridizers can modify this method to their needs and may find it much more enjoyable than messing with flats and damping off and winter humidity indoors and timing and etc. etc. The key issues to watch are:

- In the fall make sure seeded pots remain moist so that the seeds do not dry out after being moistened. Or prepare the pots in the fall for seeding in the spring and store the seed over the winter.

- If sowing in the fall, make sure pots are wet and covered when freezing temps come around.

- In the spring make sure pots stay moist so moistened seeds do not dry out and die.

- If spring sowing uncover the pots, water, and sow seeds as soon as you possibly can which is usually when it is warm enough so that the water in the garden hose that froze overnight is broken up enough to blow out of the hose under normal water pressure!

- Beware of spring dandelion seedlings. Get them early before the taproot takes hold.

- Keep watered.

Perry Post