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Re: Why Grow Other's Seeds?

OK, I admit it isn't the most controversial topic in the world of hosta, but Bill Meyer hasn't said anything patently rediculous lately and I was tired of opening my email and finding nothing but messages from my friend Tina the Sexy Cheerleader - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Obviously there are seeds and there are seeds, and I'm sure that the vast majority of seeds listed on ebay are what they claim to be. One reason I'm fairly sure of that is that they don't claim to be much.
I'm probably going to step on some toes here, God help me if the person doing this is a friend of mine, but here's an example of what I'm talking about. Right now on ebay there are four bids for "over 50 seeds of 'Frances Williams'". The ad does not mention that Frances does not give variegated seedlings. As far as I know, Dorothy Benedict is the only known variegated offspring from probably billions of seeds sown. The add says that the parent has particularly wide variegation, which means nothing but implies that there's a good chance for wide variegation in the offspring. It also says that Frances has produced many great seedlings like Breeder's Choice, Formal Attire, Cascades, William Lachman, Mildred Seaver, and others. What it doesn't say is that except in the case of Dorothy, I'm pretty sure that Frances was the pollen parent in all of them and once again, while it sounds good, it means nothing. The seeds you get aren't going to produce anything like these plants. Frances may be a good pollen parent, but it isn't going to give you anything much as a pod parent. And this isn't the only listing or the only seller that offers junk like this with misleading descriptions. Maybe I should give the people a break and assume that they just don't know anything about hostas.

I know it's not a huge issue, it just irritates me to see all of this misleading crap being put out there. Bill Meyer, if this is you selling this stuff, stop it! I must also say that there are a few people out there selling what might be very interesting seed, and if you have an opportunity to trade or buy seed from a breeder, that's a lot different from getting it from someone who has a couple hundred hostas in the yard and goes out in the fall and starts picking pods. Bill Nash has some seed on ebay that I wouldn't mind having myself if I didn't already have all I can cope with.

I personally think that buying open pollinated seed from anything but the absolute best new plants is a waste of time. Hostas don't cost all that much any more, in my opinion at least, so I think putting your money in a good inexpensive breeder, and there are many, can give you hundreds and maybe thousands of seeds and you can pick your own pollen parents. I never get tired of using hypoleuca, there are tons of nice plants from montana 'Macrophylla', and there are many others.
OK, so this is a boring topic. Even I'm tired of it. I'll go back to transplanting my seedlings.


Jaspersail@aol.com wrote:

Chick tried to liven things up with:

<<It's just my opinion, but personally, I don't see the point of germinating other people's seeds when it is so much more fun to make your own crosses.>>

Thankfully we don't have to choose -- we can do both! I made hundreds of hand-crosses this year and am having great fun watching my seedlings develop. But I also bought seed from (and traded seed with) other hybridizers this year. And that seed's been fun too.

Why germinate other's seed? For future breeding purposes, I like to add new genes -- and their accompanying genetic traits -- from other hybridizers to my own mix. It's kind of like adding a new color to my breeding 'pallette'; it gives me more options on my hybridizing 'canvas.' Seed is sometimes the next best option when the parent plant is unavailable or too costly.

Also, some of us may have more seed-growing space than our own plants can fill. Acquiring seed helps us 'fill the void' that our limited breeding stock creates.

Another reason: Hand crossing is hard work! This was my first year of controlled crosses on a fairly large scale ('large scale' in a limited, amateur-grower-kind-of way!) and it was more labor- and time-intensive than I imagined. And I was late to work every day! I'm sure many seed growers can do without the hassle.
It's also just plain fun to grow seeds and see what you might get, whether from hand-crosses or open pollination. As you know, most hosta hybrids are a motley mutt-mix of genes. Each seedling is a new combination of those genes (except in
some cases from ventricosa apparently) and some truly odd things can appear. Sure, only buying 20-25 seeds doesn't get you many rolls of the dice, but when the investment is small, there's minimal risk. (Unless you're being scammed on eBay!)
Lastly, for many of us Winter is just a delay in springtime and growing seedlings eases the wait. As you surmised, there are some of us who have no anticipation of getting "world class seedlings." But there's nothing I enjoy more this time of year than going home from work and looking over my hosta babies -- whether my own or 'adopted.'

--John Christensen
Ann Arbor, MI, Zone 5

P.S. Despite rumors to the contrary, my first-born is the pick of the litter.

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