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Seedling Discussion

Hi Jim and all,
        Finally got some good weather to get started outside today. Got the beds raked off, but that's about it. Found an old scape from 'Elatior' that had to be close to seven feet long. Got some nice seedlings from that one under the lights now. So, moving on to Jim's "Post of Many Questions".........
> How much does "pretty" count?
        I think the more you do it, the less it counts. Not because it's human nature to grow bored with them, but because after five years or so you start to realize that the ones that were the best-looking last year are not the ones that are the best-looking this year. From year to year the ones that seem best change so much you wonder whether it's you, that you are just remembering it wrong. After a while you realize that's how it works. You really can't make your final decisions until they're four years old or so. If you try, they'll make you regret it the next year. So, as Ray said, the amount of space you have will have a lot to do with how ruthless you will be with the early culling. Pretty when they're little doesn't tell you very much about what they'll be when they grow up. Save the good looking ones anyway, and see if they stay your favorites over the next few years. This is part of the learning experience. The part where you develop your "eye".
        Another thing that's important to know when starting out is that not all you seedlings will be as fertile as their parents. This problem increases when you start mixing a lot of different species together. There isn't a whole lot you can do about it, other than to save a few siblings for future breeding in case the best one of the batch turns out to be infertile. If you want to continue with that line, you'll be glad you did. This problem comes up more with some species mixes than with others. Sieboldii, sieboldiana, and yingeri, are generally plusses in crosses for future fertility. Plantagenia and nigrescens are minuses. Start building breeding lines that have a lot of the last two in them and you'll see a lot of flowers hitting the dirt after a couple days. Fertility is one element the beginner doesn't usually think about, so it's easy to get into trouble there. How many thought that 'Outhouse Delight' signalled the beginning of new lines of exciting white hosta? 'White Wall Tires' appears infertile.Does anybody have any seedlings from either that are showing the promise of a fertile breeding line for whites?
        There's a thunderstorm coming in so I'll have to stop here.
                                                                                           . ..............Bill Meyer

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