Re: Hosta seedlings hot frame./Pre sprouting hosta seeds.
>Has anyone tried starting hosta seedlings in a small hot frame using
>electric soil heating cables?
You can speed up hosta gemination, but you also have to ask yourself
if it is worth the extra effort. I grow my seedlings in a greenhouse
with filtered light and by the end of the summer I have a nice sized
plant, in many cases probably large enough that I could sell as a
liner. The following year they are ready to go into gallon pots and
some of these will go into a greenhouse if I want to use them for
hybridizing. By mid summer those that went into the greenhouse were
close to mature size, especially the smaller sized hostas. It really
doesn't help me much if I used bottom heat because the use of the
greenhouse speeds things up enough without having to put a lot of
effort into it.
>How about pre-sprouting hosta seeds to get them up and going faster?
I haven't tried this, but my first impression is that it is more
trouble then it is worth. These kinds of things may be fine for the
really small time hobbyist grower who is growing a hundred seeds. The
easiest thing I can think of is to use a mini-greenhouse or some cold
frame structure and keep the seedlings there all summer.
What I do is transfer the selected seedlings to 2 inch Anderson Bands
in a 1020 flat. I then fill a second 1020 flat with horse manure,
sprinkle some slow release fertilize and some triple 16 on top and
then sit the flat of seedlings on top of the horse manure. The hosta
roots grow down into the horse manure in the bottom tray. This allows
for the development of a nice root system.
A mini-greenhouse can easily be made from 10 foot PVC. I attach 1
foot long 1/2" aluminum electrical conduit to pressure treated 2x4's
with two clamps. I then lay these on the ground and I then slip the
PVC into the conduit while the whole thing is laying on the ground
flat. It's important to use schedual 125 (or is it 200?, the thinest
stuff) 1/2" PVC inside of 3/4" PVC. The 1/2" PVC is too weak by
itself to withstand a strong wind and 3/4" PVC will crimp once it is
arched over. However, the 1/2" inside the 3/4" works well. I then
pound stakes into the ground where I want the mini-greenhouse and I
make them 5 feet wide. You can make them as long as you want, but I
find that 12 feet long is what I like as I can easily water the pots
or flats fropm both ends and not have to stretch into the grenhouse to
get everything watered. I amke them 5 feet wide as that gives me
enough height so that I can "walk" into the mini-greenhouses without
too much trouble - but then I am NOT tall. I then put one of the
boards inside the stakes and then "walk" the other end into place.
However, this has to be done with extream care as there is a lot of
tension being built up. Slip and that thing will spring up and knock
your head off. The mini-grenhouse is then anchored with some 2 ro 3
foot long pipe pounded into the ground on the inside of the greenhouse
and clamped to the frame. I then use aluminum electrical conduit at
the top and half way up the sides to provide support for the plastic
and also make it stronger. I just use electrical tape to attach the
conduit to the arched frame. However, you have to cover the
electrical tape with something to hide the black color, or spray paint
it white, otherwise it will "melt" the plastic. You can also use hose
clamps, but that can get a bit expensive. You can also cover it with
chicken wire to give more support. I use UV stabilized plastic, but
someone with only one mini-greenhouse may not like to pay $200 for a
100 foot roll of UV stabilized plastic to cover the greenhouse. Cheap
construction grade plastic works. Try to get the type that isn't
prefectly clear. Or you can use some frosted plastic and cover that
with a second layer. The idea is to have it fairly light, but
diffused. The other quick and "cheap" way is to make a framed box of
some sort and cover it with fiberglass panels. I've discovered that
the seedlings will take a lot of sunlight as long as it is diffused.
With a set up like this and using the double tray system you should be
able to get some of them to bloom the second year.
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