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Re: Daylily Vs. Hosta

  • Subject: Re: Daylily Vs. Hosta
  • From: njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 09:27:07 -0500

Hi Glen,
        I've been thinking about Chick's daylily story too. A lot of us in
the hosta world have been wondering if tissue culture has killed the
high-end part of the hosta market. I think the answer to that is there in
the daylily market. If you TC a hosta, you know within a few months if the
plants are true to form, while you'd have to wait for a daylily to flower to
be sure you were,nt propagating on a mutation (not necessarily a good one)
instead. That would mean that the lab wouldn't really be able to sell them
with any real certainty they were right for a long time. It isn't as easy as
hostas are. That's one part of it.
         The other part is the sheer number of daylily varieties. How many
new hostas make it into TC every year? Thirty? Forty at the most. If you
have five hundred or more new introductions every year, than less than ten
percent ever get TC'ed. As long as there are a lot of new varieties being
produced, than the majority will never see the TC lab. So, there will always
be a collector end of the market where TC is a dirty word for varieties that
never met the test tubes.
          One other factor is the lingering question of whether the TC
hostas remain true to the form of the original. Often TC plants do look
different from the OS plants, particularly in the area of margin width. For
an example go to 'Captain Kirk' at the HostaLibrary. The OS plant,
photographed by Kirk Brill in his own garden, has a significantly wider
margin than the other photos of the TC plants. Other problems occur too.
'Gypsy Rose' was thought to be 'Striptease' until they had been grown on for
some time and it became apparent that it was a mutation. Some TC batches
look OK but won't grow; 'Great Expectations' got a bad reputation this way.
Then there's just plain old mix-ups like the 'Summer Joy' problem. Even with
plants that have been in the lab, the OS form can still have value. The
truly great individual plants in gardens like Patsy Stygal's were almost
always grown from OS divisions bought at a premium, not from the cheaper
TC's. Most of the plants that are TC'ed come out just fine, but a percentage
do not, so that part of the market that is successfully TC'ed is smaller
          Anyway, I think the high-end collector market will always be
there, and that it is just reeling a little from seeing the choicest, most
expensive and coveted plants being reduced in value overnight to $5 liners.
It will recover, as the daylily market has, and it will be concentrated more
on things which will not do well in TC, I think, like OS 'Captain Kirk' that
looks like Brill's original form, streaked plants, slow growers like
'Cupid's Arrow', TC failures like 'White Shoulders', and plants from obscure
sources that never made it into the mainstream. Buying OS before a plant
hits the labs still gives you a two or three year jump on the lab plants
even if they do come true to type. High-end collecting will never die as
long as the new varieties keep coming.

.......Bill Meyer

> I read a recent exchange between Bob Ax and Chick W. regarding daylilies.
> had meant to respond to it  but..... It is now snowing, and I have culled
> thousand hosta seedlings so will take this time to  explore a question I
> have...and a theory.
> Bob and Chick both indicated that a number of daylily introductions were
> entering the market at the old hosta prices....$200.00, $300.00...$500.00.
> And apparently a number of daylilies were keeping their price
> the hosta community. Either Chick or Bob suggested that  tc-ing daylilies
> was a somewhat clandestine act for some breeders.  I expect that this was
> about keeping the price up?But that was not really my question. The
> world has a lot more competition in sheer numbers than does the hosta
> world. What keeps their prices so high? Haven' they experienced the same
> price revolution that we have?
> I grow a few daylilies. I have stuck to just collecting the white ones.
> First they are rather boring and second there are not a lot of them, so I
> won't be tempted to add another addiction to my gardening
> efforts.....something that has beautiful colored blooms.  I admit that I
> put them in areas where they fill in quickly..and I don't have to worry
> about them. I guess I use them  so I don't have to be worried about
> ....where sun  is unkind to hostas. Considering my quirky motives I am
> wondering if the daylily bloom in all of it glory and variety is not more
> seductive that the leaves of a hosta...and therefore the price can be kept
> up there?  I mean, the daylily couldn't possibly have more boring foliage,
> or for that matter the hosta could have less impressive flowers  ( OK, I
> know some of you can make a list of impressive flowers on some hostas, but
> they don't exactly compare with the flowers on daylilies.
> What ever the profile of these two groups of plant lovers are, I do wonder
> about  the price distinctions in the two markets. It's clear that hosta
> people are better people;  more clearly discerning ,  perceptive,
> intellectual, compassionate, and all round good guys. And that daylily
> people are seduced by  the relentless prostitution of the daylily bloom
> the "Big Mac" world of daylilies.......and suffer a list of negative
> character traits which are far too long to list. But there must be more to
> it than this. While I am in favor of the lower hosta prices we now pay, I
> miss the lack of prestige that the old high prices used to bestow on the
> hosta world. Are we soon going to have signs all over the country at
> different garden centers saying:  OVER 3 BILLION SOLD  @ ONLY $1.00!
> "And yes I said yes I will Yes." J.J's last words.
> Glen Williams
> 20 Dewey St.
> Springfield , Vermont
> 05156
> Tel: 802-885-2839
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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