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Re: update on seedlings

  • Subject: Re: update on seedlings
  • From: Bill Nash raffi@sympatico.ca
  • Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 21:21:56 -0500

At 11:11 AM 12/13/2002, you wrote:

>Hi Bill!
>Just wanted to send a quick note to say thanks for the wonderful seeds!  I
>have 12 beautiful 'Breeder's Choice' seedlings and dozens of Let's Streak
>seedlings!  I only started a small amount of the seeds you sent and nearly
>all of them germinated!  I am very pleased with the variation of leaves and
>colors, too!  They are just starting the second leaf stage!
>I am also curious about your success with the application of pulverized bone
>meal!  You said that you could tell me more?  Please do!  I just got some
>more (ran out last August) and am getting ready to start some more seeds!
>All your advice has been great so far!
>Also, Is it possible to order more seeds directly from you or do I need to go
>thru EBay.  I am thinking that I'd like to get some more after the holidays.
>Thanks so much!
>Kathie Sisson
````````````Hi Kathie Sisson, I'm happy to see your positive 
hosta-seedlingresults; and I shall do for you, whatever you may like me to 
do -- tell me more? ;>) <wink?>

In the meantime, here is some bedtime reading I wrote, having just you in 
mind, by your questions...above and here.

Ontario Canada Zone 4" <raffi@sympatico.ca> and also known as "hostaseed" 
at: www.Ebay.com PER *HOSTA* seed-selling-forums.  This was written, to try 
to answer questions put to me by Kathie Sisson.  FIRST ROUGH DRAFT, excuse 
any errors in grammar.

How to get, Multi-colored and Variegated Hosta-leaves in Seedlings?
-- The Hosta Seedling Grower, must use seeds picked from pod-parent 
Mothers: having streaky-striated leaves.  This hosta-form, or leaf-type, is 
an 'UNSTABLE HOSTA FORM' by it's very leaf-coloring nature.  As such, only 
these striated-leaf hosta-types (the unstable form); will provide for 
streaky-leaf offspring results (and similar to Maternal Aspect (pod-parent) 
by leaf-coloring?).

SEEDLING RESULTS: from STABLE hosta leaf-forms, produce only monochrome 
seedlings (one single colored leaf-form)
The stable hosta-leaf-forms are as follows:
  1).. A single leaf-color of yellow or green (blue-green included?) and 
referred to as being monochrome.
  2).. Leaf-edging marginated in white or yellow; surrounding a yellow or 
green leaf (blue-green included) a stable form.
  3).. Center-leaf-variegation of white or yellow and known as 'MEDIO 
VARIEGATED' hostas.  The stable MEDIOS, are the most interesting hostas, by 
my opinion, since the multi-coloring leaf-aspect, can go beyond the two 
color spectrum range, and usually is exactly that.   One can have a 
center-leaf-coloring of yellow and white shades, and this, can be 
surrounded by several different shades of green (blue green 
inclusive?).  This kind of multi-color combination within a single 
hosta-leaf;  can be seen in a hosta-cultivar example known as H. Choko 
Nishiki (and/or H. 'On Stage', being the exact same plant!).   Other medio 
hostas, like June/Great Expectations; and most other medio-typed hostas, 
also show this same-kind of multi-coloring in leaf; in shades of white 
through yellow in the leaf-centers; also showing and surrounded by, pale 
green through darker green leaf-color-tones around; and inside this 
center-leaf-variegation (blue-green inclusive?).

It might be interesting to note here; that growing seeds from a medio 
variegated hosta-type pod-parent: results in the maternal-plant 
(pod-parent?) attempting to reproduce all of the colors contained and seen 
within her medio-leaf coloring (all colors try to re-appear?). Using Choko 
Nishiki, as my example again, some very interesting and attractive 
color-shades of yellow through green-spectrum seedlings have resulted in my 
trials?  One particular leaf-color I liked, was a light green which almost 
leans into yellow; and this coloring seems, to be changing by the time of 
day, light exposure and so on.  A LEMON AND LIME kind of combination of 
coloring, so to speak?  Of course, all seedlings resulting from medio 
pod-parents and all other stable hosta-forms are: monochrome types, having 
a single leaf color.

Striated leaf hosta-types (seedlings, or even bought streaky cultivars?) do 
become and/or will show: stable hosta leaf-forms within a single clump, at 
the matured stage.  As the single stemmed eye-plant clumps-up into a 
matured specimen (say for example, becoming a large multi-eyed and single 
root-crown?): then these seedlings-plants or cultivars, will show different 
kinds of eye-shoots within the single root-crown.  STREAK (please keep in 
mind?):  is not a stable hosta aspect, and in time, it 
*SORTS-ITSELF-OUT*.  It's striated-leaf-aspect: begins to show any of the 
HOSTA STABLE FORMS, or even all of them.  The striated leaf form, which one 
started with, is usually still present within the single crowned 
hosta-clump however, if and when, most of the clump has stabilized into a 
monochrome-green color, then this, can choke out the streak completely, due 
to the faster growing nature of green cells via photosynthesis: more 
chlorophyll contained within same.

At the mature and multi-stemmed; clumped-up stage of growth; one usually 
has different kinds of eye-shoots, by their leaf-coloring; and all of 
these, are contained within a single, matured, hosta root-crown.   By the 
propagation process known as root/rhizome-division, one can isolate any 
particular hosta-leaf type one fancies, and propate that stable types one 
chooses, further?  It might be an idea also-- to become aware of eye and 
leaf-bud division also?  The preamble explanation to this kind of 
hosta-propagation, can be found at the Hosta Internet Library, located at: 

The streaky-leaf, matured, hosta root-clump, must be divided on a regular 
basis, else the faster growing leaves, having many green cells within them, 
can choke out the slower growing and highly variegated 
eye-plants/shoots.  My reference, to "eye-shoot/plants" is based upon: the 
resulting leaves (usually five to seven of them?) which develop from a 
single leaf-bud, to become an eye; and then, becoming an eye-shoot, or a plant.

STREAK-PRODUCING SEED-BATCH?*; and this, is the ultimate challenge to all 
hosta seedling growers and hybridizers?

Objectively speaking: what is it that a seedling-grower, or hybridizer is 
looking to find via growing streaky-leaf seedlings; and how will she/he go 
about finding this?

Firstly, and in my honest opinion, our ultimate objective of growing 
multi-colored, streak-variegated-leaf seedlings, goes something like 
this?  We want to get as far away as possible: from the 
monochrome-green-leaf aspect; and we do desire to move as close as possible 
to pure-white and multi-colored-leaves (as is humanly possible?).  "White 
leaves do not survive or grow, due to lack of green cells (chlorophyll?) to 
perform needed photosynthesis, so then, how are we to accomplish this?" one 
might ask?

Fact of the matter is, the ultimate objective, as I put above: has already 
been done by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery (www.plantdel.com) via 
Mr. Avent's introduction of 'Out House Delight' hosta; and it's subsequent 
seedling siblings.  These hostas unfurl pure-white looking leaves in 
springtime; they flourish and grow: coming back every year to year, cycles 
of growth continue; and these white-leaf-hostas, become mature specimen 
hostas, in time.

Whenever a given seedling-batch is sown; using streak producing seeds ( 
i.e. seed coming from a pod-parent Hosta-mother; having stripes of white 
running up a green flower stem; and also, striated leaves; and very likely, 
multi-colored streaky seed-pods likewise?) then the resulting seedlings 
will show striated leaves popping up at the first leaf sprouting stage.  Of 
course we must remember, that the seed which is sprouting monochrome-green 
kids, is also sprouting and growing a lot quicker than the highly 
variegated and even "pure white leaves" which we are after, to grow into 

At the first and second leaf stage, we remove all of the monochrome-green 
sprouts, since we are after the "Cream de la Creme!" of this crop (the best 
variegates!)?  This can be done with tweezers (pulling them out), or 
scissor-snipping them off at the root-soil level. Care must be taken, in 
doing this green-leaf culling: to not disturb any of those highly 
variegated types, which may be just beginning to send up their first 
leaf-sprout.  If this culling is not done, the odds are good: that the 
faster growing monochrome-green-plants, will choke out the highly recessive 
and much slower growing white-in-leaf types.  The removal of the green 
seedlings, provides room for the multi-colored sprouts, to grow and flourish.

PURE-white-leafed appearing-sprouts, normal will melt away and die; as soon 
as, the seed-core embryo: stops feeding that first leaf; and if, they do 
not have enough green-cells within same, to photosynthesize their 
chlorophyll  growth function. If however, the seedling batch is growing 
inside a rather ideal growing environment; say for example, total 
incubation having one hundred percent humidity exposure on the leaf; and 
with, ideal lighting, temperature and so on?  Then it will be seen that 
some of those white-looking leaves: do survive!  They move into the second 
and third leaf stages and grow.  I would like to suggest, that these will 
be your most attractive hosta specimens, if you can grow them into 
maturity?  From this explanation, it should be seen: why it is very 
important to remove the monochrome-green sprouts "very carefully" in order 
to not disturb the sprouting stage of the highly variegated plants, which 
we are after in this seedling growing.  THIS WAS OUR FIRST OBJECTIVE, to 
find and isolate the most highly variegated hosta types, and the above 
explained exactly how this is done.


CONCEPTUALIZE: a matured hosta clump, having 20 separate "eye-shoots" in a 
single root-crown?  Some of these have all green leaves; others show white 
or yellow margins on leaves; some are center leaf variegated leaves and 
even an all yellow leaf type is seen there?  "Ah ha?" the 
striated-leaf-form is also in the clump!  You can isolate and propagate any 
type you may choose, within this clump.  So how do you do this?

In late-August or early-September, cut all the leaves off of the plant, 
leaving about a six-inch leaf stem sticking up.  Dig the plant out of the 
ground.  Wash all the dirt off of the roots. Take the plant to your 
favorite MEAT SHOP, and have them, put the meaty-root-crown through their 
meat-slicer.  You want root-crown-pieces ending up at quarter-inch, to 
half-inch sized square-pieces of crown?  Take these pieces of meat, (crown 
pieces?) back to your preferred growing bed and plant them?  The next year, 
you shall see each meat-piece (of the root-crown?) will produce an 
eye-plant or plants?

I hope that, nobody reading the above meat-slicer procedure?  Really took 
me serious about having a 'Meat Shop Slicing Machine' do the hosta rhizome 
division for you, using a meat-slicer however, that is almost exactly what 
one is doing, when they put a knife to a hosta root crown, for 
form-isolation/propagation purposes?

Each piece of the crown, even without roots attached: will develop roots 
and grow.  Any cut part of the crown, forms a bud, becoming an eye, and 
this eye sends up an eye-plant in it's next growing cycle.

It might be a good idea, to obtain some rooting hormone powder, having 
fungicide within, to brush onto cut portions of the crown, else soaking the 
cuttings in a fungicide solution if good too.  Dipping one's cutting tool, 
in fungicide powder-rooting hormone, before each cut: is also a good idea, 
since this disinfects the wounds?

If you go out, and if, the ground is not frozen: then you can propagate 
your favorite hosta to it's maximum: RIGHT NOW!  After digging the roots 
out of the ground; cutting all frozen leaves off and washing all the dirt 
off: it will be seen that there are a great many buds sitting on the 
roots.  These pointed protrusions, are usually white by color and 
appearance, since they were under the ground.  Each of these buds, will 
send up an eye-plant in the next growth cycle therefore, division down to a 
single plant-intended is possible.

If you happen to have a spare fridge, which can be set to run at say 37 
degrees Fahrenheit (plus or minus five degrees?) then your cuttings can be 
placed inside plastic bags; packed inside moist growing medium; and kept in 
the fridge for a dormancy period of six to eight weeks minimum.  Then they 
can be potted and grown under lights or sunny windows.  Or they can be 
potted, at the time the rhizome surgery was done, and kept moist inside 
their cold storage treatment, that is to say, if you have somewhere which 
provides the needed space, to keep potted dormant hosta divisions in cold 

When one does the above propagation procedure; and say for example, the 
hosta one is working with: is just a single eye-shoot, newly acquired or a 
young hosta-plant?  And say, one divides fours buds on the roots (cut 
apart?).  When you put these cuttings into the growing cycle again, it is 
usually seen: that multiple eye-plants spring forth; and meaning, you've 
missed some very small buds in that rhizome-division?  These can be divided 
again.  The point here was to show how easy it is to propagate hostas: 
right now; in the springtime and/or in late summer, or for that matter, 
whenever you like: if you have a cold storage place to store the rhizomes 
inside, during their dormant period?

*A SEED SOWING TIP* -- For the best possible germination and growth of 
newly started seedlings -- sprinkle a bit of powder BONE MEAL, over top of 
the seeds, just before covering with growing medium and wetting.

 From experimental trials: of applying ground Bone Meal powder; and verses, 
Super Phosphate powder; and verses, no seed treatment at all in a sowing of 
hosta-seed?  Sown in similar fashion, same date, same growing medium and 
using identical hosta seed: THIS HAS SHOWN ME (Bill Nash): that by simply 
sprinkling a bit of Bone Meal powder over top of sown seed, this provides 
for the best germination results possible; and having, the healthiest 
looking seedlings. Identical hosta-seed sowing, was done on same date as 
Bone Meal additive; and using, Super Phosphate, verses, no seed-additive 
treatment at all.  The bone-meal seed treatment, showed a two fold result, 
by seedling quantity results (Germination?) and by direct comparison to the 
no treatment seed sowing?

BONE MEAL: has an element composition of 2-11-0: (Nitrogen=2%, Phosphorus 
(phosphate)=11%, Potassium= zero percent.
Super Phosphate: (0-20-0) that is, having a fertilizer-element content of 
20 percent phosphorus/phosphate (nothing else).

The application of Bone Meal, provides better results than Super Phosphate 
treatment with seed-sowing.   The two percent Nitrogen, contained in Bone 
Meal, is like a needed helper to work with the phosphate, hand in hand so 
to speak (catalyst-like?) and hence, provides the best overall results; and 
which, showed me that this extra trouble of sprinkling a bit of bone meal 
over top of sown seeds, is well worth this work/effort!

In this experiment, the Bone Meal application showed the best germination 
and healthiest looking plants (being larger than both other trials?) and 
comparing to seed-sown, without any treatment at all.  The Super Phostphate 
application experiment, provided a better results than non treated seeds, 
but was not as good as the bone meal application experiment hence, the 
nitrogen content within bone meal, was the needed phosphate-catalyst which 
provided the best germination and growth effect.


Quoting from a book titled 'BEDDING PLANTS' (published by American Grower's 

Phosphorus (P):  This fertilizer-element is related closely to vital growth 
processes of plants.  Like N (nitrogen?) it is part of the amino acids and 
proteins that form the structural framework of the protoplast.  It is a 
catalyst in the energy transfer and may be involved in the conversion of 
starch to sugar.  Phosphates act as buffers to maintain satisfactory 
conditions of acidity and alkalinity in plant cells.  P (phosphorus?) is of 
special importance in the germination of seeds, in the metabolism of 
seedlings, and in the development of roots. Phosphorus is absorbed by plant 
roots as phosphate.  This Phosphate, is not used by the plant in large 
quantities, but it is essential to have a constant supply.  The functions 
of P (phosphate) and N (nitrogen) in the plant are related 
closely.  Phosphates are absorbed more rapidly by plants when N (nitrogen) 
is present in the soil mix. END QUOTE

[SUBNOTE]  and this is why: the Bone Meal application experiment on seed 
sowing (having 11 percent Phosphorus AND WITH 2 percent Nitrogen fertilizer 
element) by direct comparison to Phosphate, which has 20 percent 
Phosphorus/phosphate, but no Nitrogen element contained at all, to provide 

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