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Re: Pictures of Hosta doing poorly

  • Subject: Re: Pictures of Hosta doing poorly
  • From: "Bill Meyer" njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2003 12:33:29 -0500

Hi Folks,
         I've seen a lot of hostas in nurseries in recent years, and from
what I've seen, most retail nurseries treat all varieties the same. They use
the same soil mix and fertilizers, water them the same, give them the same
shade, etc. On the other hand, when people take them home, they go into
completely different conditions from one garden to the next. So I would
guess there are several things at work as to why some hostas don't grow
         Some might be good growers in potting soil but not do well in the
ground. I don't think this would happen too often, but could be the case
with some plants that were never tested in the ground.
         Some might thrive only under certain conditions, or need certain
minerals or trace elements to do well. For example, a certain hosta might
have a need for more magnesium and only do well where it gets enough.
         I don't think either of these cases are really very common though.
I think a lot of the time it turns out to be that a particular hosta was a
slower grower than people expected, and they are getting tired of waiting
for it.
         The most common problem, though, looks like bad TC batches. For
example, look at 'Apple Court'. The very first small batch of these that
appeared grew well. If you've seen the big clump in the Tiffany garden
pictured on the First Look website, you know what I mean. Batches that came
out after that one didn't grow much at all, so now the plant has a bad
reputation. It doesn't seem to be anything the retail nurseries are doing.
The first strong-growing ones came out of TC too. Do you think that if you
took a division from a big strong plant, it would do as badly as the later
TC ones? I think it would grow into another big strong plant, while the bad
TC ones would sit there or slowly die off. I don't have any idea what goes
wrong with those bad batches, but something does, and they don't ever seem
to ever "grow out of" whatever the problem is. I doubt the TC labs can tell
if they have a problem batch on their hands. The whole process moves so fast
that even the retailers don't know there is a problem until a couple years
after the plants were sold.
         It's really an industry that moves so fast that we don't know what
we're buying. The first actual testing of a plant is done by the retail
buyers of the first release. The nursery industry sticks to a line that TC
is no different from OS as part of their sales scheme and sell the public on
the idea that they are a homogenous commodity. Sometimes this turns out to
be true, and sometimes it doesn't. I've heard retailers say that
occasionally a TC batch actually grows better than OS plants do, so the
sword cuts both ways on that. Tissue culture is improving from year to year,
though, so I think the problem may disappear in time.
                                               ...........Bill Meyer

> I think you will have less problem when you see the article -- but then
> you might not.  I have a thick skin and think more positive discussion
> result as a consequence.  I am glad I provided you with a ready foil this
> morning.  I assume you have no pictures to share regarding those you agree
> fit on the list!
> As to defaming, that is not my intent, but to be cliche about it, I have
> things to say:
> "If the shoe fits, wear it." and "Sometimes you have to break a few eggs
> make mayonnaise."
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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