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Re: Hosta foliage types

  • Subject: Re: Hosta foliage types
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 11:05:06 -0000

Hi Joe,
         Jim Hawes has written for the Hosta Journal on photoperiod in
Hosta, so I'll let him talk about that. Experiments done at a University
later backed up his theories. Jim also wrote on the subject of overwintering
hosta outdoors in a tropical climate.Where are you, Jim?
          There are no evergreen hostas, but the plantagenia species and
hybrids do show some traits that are different from the other species.
Except when they are in bloom, they are producing new leaves most of the
season. Some of the talk about plantagenia hybrids looking good late in the
season is because of this. The leaves people are seeing now are not as old
as the ones on the other plants. I've seen them still throwing up new leaves
right into the hard frosts of fall, then begin again too early in the spring
and have the new year's leaves destroyed. I think what we see in this is
some kind of delayed maturity, where the plantagenia plants retain this
juvenile characteristic for years longer than the other species and their
          Does this correlate to the daylilies? Well, the one species that
is evergreen among daylilies came from the southernmost part of the
hemerocallis range and the one species among hosta that continuously throws
up new leaves came from the southernmost part of the hosta range. Both are
probably evolutionary adaptations to a warmer climate.
          Hostas need dormancy. This is pretty much established. Without
dormancy they decline slowly over three years or so and die. Maybe because
of reduced dormancy in a warmer climate plantagenia evolved to more
sustained and consistant growth to compensate for the deteriorating effects
of the reduced dormancy in it's new climate. The evergreen daylily may have
done the same. Both may be unusual because of the same stimulus, but
different in how they adapted.

..............Bill Meyer

> Bill:
> >what climate did the evergreen daylily species come from?
> There is only one truly evergreen daylily species (aurantiaca) and it
> comes from southern China.  It was used extensively by the southern
> hybridizers in the early days of daylily hybridizing because the
> deciduous daylilies didn't perform well in the very mild winter
> climate of the deep south - they didn't get enough cold treatment to
> break dormancy.
> >How do they perform in temperate climates?  The modern day
> non-deciduous daylilies are mostly winter hardy up to zone 6, but are
> variable in colder climates.  It depends to a great deal on how
> dependable a snow cover there is.  One of the big complaints about the
> Florida bred hybrids is questionable winter hardiness, especially from
> some of the hybridizers.  The non-deciduous types stay green until a
> cold enough frost comes along and turns them into mush.  However, long
> periods of inclement weather can make them look pretty poor before the
> frosts do them in.  They never go truely dormant like the deciduous
> types.
> >What happens when they are bred with deciduous types?
> The non-deciduous types are dominant over the deciduous types.  It
> behaves mostly as a simpe singe gene, but there are some modifier
> genes involved that influence when and how quickly a deciduous daylily
> goes dormant.
> >Do you think hosta show any similar characteristics to daylily
> >foliage?
> I really haven't looked at this all that critically.  I do know that
> when I'm down at Charlie Purtymun's place in mid to late November
> there are still some daylilies that will be reasonable green even with
> some light frosts while most of the others are well browned off.  When
> you read daylily catalogs you generally will see a reference to its
> foliage type, as either dormant, semi-evergreen or evergreen.  For
> some reason daylily people insist on using the incorrect term
> "dormant" for the correct term "deciduous."  However, I don't see
> hosta people giving any reference to foliage type in hosta catalogs.
> Its obvious that there is variation within the hosta genus for foliage
> traits.  One way to study foliage types is to grow them in a
> greenhouse and observe if they are photoperiod sensitive or not.
> Joe Halinar
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