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RE: Some Grow---Some Don't

  • Subject: RE: Some Grow---Some Don't
  • From: "Mary Chastain" <mc_hosta@Bellsouth.net>
  • Date: Fri, 4 May 2001 12:19:48 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

Hi Jim, I really don't have time to take part in this but since I started I
will add a little more. First I would like to say that I have never seen the
condition in plants that were developed from ventricosa or fortunei parents.
As I think of it I have never seen it in small varieties. Let a very hot
summer come along and a large clump of Blue Angel is just a disaster waiting
to happen. My fourth clump is not about 6 feet.  If it goes this year that
is it. No more.  I have observed that plants with tokudama and sieboldiana
in their make up are much more prone to be a problem in hot weather.

On at least two occasions while he was visiting my garden, I have discussed
this problem with Dr Ullrich Fischer from Germany.  He expressed the theory
that in time of stress trees and larger plants emit a toxicity that attacks
other plants.  He felt sure that was happening in some of my beds.  It is
amazing just how far tree roots travel.

Now my third thought is if I am all wrong what is the best thing to do?
This problem is only in the display garden where the clumps are large.  In
the growing houses  where the plants have from 1 t 4 crowns there is no

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com
[mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Jim Hawes
Sent: Friday, May 04, 2001 7:29 AM
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com; hawesj@atlantic.net
Subject: Re: Some Grow---Some Don't

Amateur Hosta Growers,

There have been some very good observations already made by several
people on hosta-open on the ovservations that "some grow-some don't".
Let me add my two cents worth.

For more than six decades, I have been a pro horticulturist and
agronomist with world wide experience in observations of devastating
losses caused by many different kinds of soil borne and other causes of
diseases which have destroyed (or at least greatly damaged)  large scale
systems of production and marketing of economic crops of many kinds in
tropical and other climatic areas of the world. My personal experiences
and observations may be  worth mentioning to put the damage being
described in hostas into a useful perspective. I will mention several
examples of similar losses.

My personal experiences in growing greenhouse cut flowers in ground beds
demonstrated to me the essential management practice of steam
sterilizing soil to avoid ( or at least minimize) losses from soil borne
diseases ( and soil nematodes) mentioned by Dan., When I failed to
sterilize, the snapdragon crop especially, was always a complete loss.
When I sterilized....success!!!. The same kinds of observations were
made in several less developed countries where I worked. In the case of
sugar production, soil nematode population was a limiting factor which
determined success or failure. Tomatoes would be planted in sugar cane
fields to be used as a crop to indicate the level of root knot nematode
present which determined success or failure of the sugar crop.. With
high populations of nematodes,  the land use often required a change to
flooded rice or the growing of a "trap crop" to reduce nematode
populations down to controllable limits.

In the case of strawberry production in the US, red stele fungus disease
was a limiting factor for successful culture of strawberries. This
fungus was easily transmited on shoes of workers, requiring use of
resistant, indexed clean plant material and sterilization of fields by
injection of  methyl bromide or similar fumigant chemicals and covering
of  soils with plastic covers to control the disease. BTW, the symptoms
of Mary Chastain's hosta  roots with red strings within roots (part of
the root's vascular system) sounds just like red stele of strawberry.
Destroy those babies, Mary!

In the case of banana production in Panama, Equador, Costa Rica and
other tropical countries, the variety Gros Michelle which was
susceptible to Panama Wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum, necessitated
complete changeover  to the resistant variety Lacatan on a world wide
basis. Without this change, we would not be eating bananas today.

A virus on Chrysanthemums called "stunt" in greenhouses threatened the
entire chrysanthemem cut flower  industry, requiring the use of indexed,
virus free plants produced under tissue culture systems .A similar
disease in carnations   required similar measures.

In the case of coffee, production in Africa of the Arabica types of
coffee is impossible because of air borne rust disease. A resistant
type, Liberica, was used but its quality is inferior resulting in much
lower prices for the product.

So how do we compare these types of disaster to problems in  our hostas?
There is little comparison. . Our hostas are so widespread in such small
plots, using many, many varieties under different environmental
conditions , that they will not be wiped out in the near future.. But
damage may become significant. I agree with Dan, that we need to begin
using better sanitary measures on a regular basis to reduce virulent
levels of soil borne diseases such a Southern Blight and similar types
which he mentions. Systems of sterilizing soil before planting clean
stock of virus free hosta liners produced in tc labs is one way to go.
Cleaning of plant material with chemical cleaning materials before
shipping to others is also a "must" to avoid redistribution of existing
contaminations in gardens. Control of population levels of soil
nematodes should be a better, standard  practice  to use in old beds
where ornamentals have been growing for many years. Moving into new
areas from time to time will help control populations of nematodes.
These and other common sense management practices will be necessary in
the future  when problems become more serious.  I could go on, but I
think readers are getting the message. We certainly need to learn more
about our individual, specific  problems as Bill and Clyde have
suggested. My opinion is that the types of problems were are seeing are
quite variable because of a number of differing causes with similar
symptoms. These are just a few of my observations which may be valid and
worth taking into consideration. I hope others share their views also.

Jim Hawes


Dan wrote:

> I feel sure what we are seeing are fungal root rots in hostas. I have
> dug hostas that refused to grow and found dried dead rhizome material
> along with small pieces of non rotted rhizome. I have removed all of
> the dead material and soaked the remaining parts of the rhizome in a
> systemic fungicide or 20% bleach solution and replanted and have had
> good results. Be careful to dispose of the rotted rhizome material
> carefully because you can easily spread some fungal diseases around
> your garden on you feet, tools or transplanted plant material. I
> suspect Phytophthora , phythium, Fusarium and other fungi. Dan Nelson
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Mary Chastain
> To: hosta-open@mallorn.comSent: Thursday, May 03, 2001 10:58
> PMSubject: RE: Some Grow---Some Don't
> Hi Bill, I have found that heat is a big contributing factor to the
> performance of some plants.  If one traces the varieties back to the
> species you will discover that some just can't take the heat.  They
> seem to do very well for about 3 years but when the clump becomes
> large and the pant is looking good something happens and the next
> season the plant is sick.  An autopsy of the plant shows that the
> roots have become hollow and most of them are gone.  You will find a
> red thread running through the root.  It goes into the crown and there
> you will find dry rot.  Most of the time the plant is a complete
> loss.  One clue to watch for is that tells you this is happening is
> the plant has fewer flower scapes.  Fewer scapes this year means often
> means trouble next spring.  The sooner the plant is taken up and
> cleaned the more chance of saving some of it.Mary
>      -----Original Message-----
>      From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com
>      [mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Bill Meyer
>      Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2001 10:34 PM
>      To: hosta-open@mallorn.com
>      Subject: Re: Some Grow---Some Don't
>      Hi Everyone,        Clyde raises some good points here. What
>      happened last season may be the culprit as well. Shading out
>      by a larger plant would certainly result in a stunted,
>      poorly grown plant. Likewise tree roots robbing water and
>      nutrients all season. Think back to last year---Are you sure
>      that nothing like this might be the cause for this year's
>      poor
>      performance?
>      .............Bill Meyer
>           I don't think it is for lack of water. Maybe too
>           much water on some? Not for
>           lack of fertilizer in my garden, but once again,
>           perhaps too much?
>           My tentative answer is that it has something to do
>           in part with light. What
>           the other part is, I know not. Cold temps? Hot
>           temps?
>           I am sure that some of you have areas of your
>           garden that you sorta let the
>           plants fend for themselves.(Sorry to make plants
>           sound like humans!) AND they
>           flourish!
>           In my case it is ornamental grasses. I never
>           fertilize them and only water
>           occasionally--they flourish.
>           What we might do is to list the poor but once
>           great ones.Ones that are not
>           near maples and such, but ones growing in what we
>           always considered "ideal"
>           conditions.
>           Clyde Crockett z5

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