Found in THJ Vol.22 No.2-1991 page 31.
A New Kind of
by Kevin C. Vaughn
For years, I have investigated the inheritance of variegation
including my Ph.D. work at Miami University (Ohio), and I thought
that I had
"seen it all." Some of my crosses the last few years, involving
the plant H.
'Northern Mist' have caused me to rethink some of my ideas on
inheritance of variegation in Hosta.
About three years ago, I
obtained a plant of H. 'Northern Mist'. Like H.
'Northern Halo' and H.
'Northern Lights', H. 'Northern Mist' is a sport of
H. sieboldiana 'Elegans'
that arose in tissue culture at Walters Gardens in
Zeeland, Michigan. H.
'Northern Mist' is similar to H. 'Northern Halo',
except that the central
portion of the leaf is a mottled
blue-green-over-white rather than a clean
white. The broad edge of blue of
H. 'Northern Mist' is similar to that found
in H. 'Northern Halo'. My plant
sent up a bloomscape almost immediately upon
planting and, without many
other interesting things to cross with it, I
selfed every bloom on the
scape, resulting in over twenty plump pods and
almost two hundred seedlings.
Unlike many other variegated plants, the
seedlings from H. 'Northern Mist'
were one hundred percent variegated and one
hundred percent of this mottled
type of variegation, as in the center of the
leaf of H. 'Northern Mist'.
There was some variation within the seedlings,
some in which the white
predominated and some in which the bluegreen
predominated, but all had
misted variegation. Generally, crosses of a
striated type of variegation
(e.g. H. 'William Lachman') give rise to
seedlings of six types: all-green,
all-white (dies), edged white, centered
white, striated, and wedges of green
and white (so-called sectorial chimera).
The proportion of the types depends
upon the proportion and arrangement of
green and white tissue in the capsule
of the parent. Seeds from some
open-pollinated seeds of H. 'Northern Mist'
did produce a few blue-green
progeny but these are expected at a frequency
of about five percent due to
the contribution of the LI histogen to the
formation of a few of the ovules;
that is, the color of the margin of the
leaf is expected to occur in a few
progeny even though a majority will be
like the leaf center; however, one
would not expect all of the variegation
to be of one type (the misted
Several of the variegated seedlings from selfing H.
'Northern Mist' are
putting up bloomscapes now so I'll continue selfing these
to determine if
they sort out into a more typical pattern of variegation or
will continue to
This type of variegation is also
noted in H. 'Spilt Milk' (Seaver) (with a
green edge like H. 'Northern
Mist'). Unfortunately, H. 'Spilt Milk' is a
very reluctant pod parent, so I
have not gotten any progeny from this plant
to know if its inheritance is
like that found in H 'Northern Mist'. The
effect in H. 'Spilt Milk' is
enhanced because the green is a very deep
green, so that there is a greater
contrast between the edge and the center
of the leaf.
At first, I
was elated to have a plant that yielded such a high percentage
seedlings, but my enthusiasm has waned, in that they are all
of the mist
type. From a distance of more than five feet, the mist type
appears to the eye uniformly blue-green. Therefore, they
are the kind of
variegation for close-up appreciation only. In the
traditionally edged or centered variegation is going to be
eyecatching. Yet, I would like a few of this type, especially if
combined with other good plant habits. As I remarked to Mildred
years ago when asked my opinion on her H. 'Sea Octopus', "It's
but I wouldn't want a yard of it." Mist variegation is
interesting and adds
further variety to our hosta planting; but, I doubt it
will supplant our more
familiar kinds of variegation.