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Re: Treating shipped Hosta

  • Subject: Re: Treating shipped Hosta
  • From: Andrew Lietzow <andrewl@hostahaven.com>
  • Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 12:41:34 -0500

Hi Joe and Hosta-openers,
Lots of good food for thought here.  As a practical matter, people who purchase mail order CAN receive them in good condition, leaves intact, but only IF the grower is willing to go to a lot of trouble to preserve the plant.  I found that by purchasing from a variety of vendors, one can determine what are the best practices for various times of the season and then just emulate what is the best.  It's not rocket science and so I certainly agree with you--companies that just throw the plants in a box don't get repeat business because they don't care enough to do even the simplest of things correctly.   Even under the best of circumstances, some plants will die but I like to know that the shipper is at least TRYING to excel in their practices.

I would agree that probably one of the best things a grower can do (FOR THE PLANT, not for the purchaser) is to cut the tops off.  When I first heard of this, I was kind of appalled.  I thought, "what a violent act against the poor plant".  However, once again I WAS WRONG!!!.  Instead of it being violent, it's actually an altruistic and practical practice.  When the plants are received and planted into a more permanent location, they "feel" motivated to get back to growing.  The roots consume the initial energy to get established while the leaves begin to renew themselves.  Within a few weeks, voila--nice new plant with even more bud divisions.  I can understand, however, why some folks would like the shipper to try to save the leaves as they want to stick it in the ground and see instant beauty.

One vendor that I purchased Astilbe from sent them VERY late in the season with the rhizomes?  tubers?  still in the bag, just as he had received them probably from Europe.  This was late July or early August.  I planted them immediately but probably lost 25% of them this spring just because they had not had a good growing season the year before.  Or at least this is on whom I'm blaming the blame.  :-) Certainly it wouldn't be my rigorous torture chambers than would have killed them?

If a plant does come with wilted leaves, Bruce Banyai had the best tonic.  Simply stick them in a bucket of very cool water for 24-48 hours and the leaves will perk right up.  (Could be preceeded by a nice rinsing bath in 10% clorox).  Then the proud new owner can plant them and not have the leaves making the plant "think" it's been to hell and just barely made it back...

Finally, I hope Bruce will post again that story about rolling the non-performing Hosta around on a concrete drive.   I love reading it and am sure I kept it, but it is indeed a classic.  LIke hitting an apple tree with a rolled up newspaper, sometimes we have to show these plants just who is boss...

Hosta la Vista!

Andrew C. Lietzow, Hacker - The ACL Group, Inc.   
..Also #1 Plantsman at http://hostahaven.com ...
...1250-41st St Des Moines, IA 50311-2516 ......
....515-274-0300 V/F 515-238-6558 Cell .........

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