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Re: Q &A for THJ

  • Subject: Re: Q &A for THJ
  • From: njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 12:38:46 -0500

Hi Mike,
        That is an interesting question. Like most things in nature, there are
probably several factors at work with leaf size. It is generally accepted that
growing hostas in more shade will cause them to produce larger leaves. This
makes sense if you think about it, because for the purpose of this discussion
the leaf is essentially a light-collector. Because there is less light, the
plant responds by increasing the surface area of the collector to gather more
light for photosynthesis. I would think the tendency to turn the face of the
leaf towards the sun is increased too. I would guess that this in turn causes
slower division and leaf production because the plants resources are directed
to larger leaf production.
        Moving from southern latitudes to northern ones, I think two things
come into play.
        First is the evolutionary development of the plant. It evolved in
climates that are not especially warm in the summers, so it's tolerance to
heat is limited, and it requires cold dormancy in winter to thrive. At high
temperatures, plant functions seem to greatly slow down to the point where
southern growers start using the term "heat dormancy". The further north you
go, the less time a plant has to endure these temperatures, so it can spend
more of the growing season increasing its size.
        Second is that the further north, the more hours of daylight there are
in the summer. I saw an interesting documentary on a valley in Alaska where
they routinely grow huge vegetables and fruit. This was reputedly caused by
the 24-hour sunlight they have there in summer. I don't think sunlight
intensity is an important factor.
        Of course there is a wide range of hosta characteristics with all the
species involved, so this is just a general theory. Sieboldiana-related plants
are more sensitive to heat, while plantagenia-related ones are more tolerant.

> 2) Size.  Here is a question or a theory or something along those lines
> that I would love an anwser to.
> I like'em big.  I like hosta leaves to be as big and full and wonderful
> as possible.  I want to know the best way to get them big.  I know that
> hosta seem to grow bigger the farther north you go.  Why is this?  And
> how far north is too far north?  What is the effect of the # of hours of
> daylight a hosta receives???  I've seen shows that have stated that
> produce grown in the far north lattitudes get much bigger than they do
> further south.  Does this have an impact on hosta leaves?
> I believe that in the south leaves will be smaller and divisions higher
> than hosta grown in the north..... anybody want to throw out some
> theories?

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