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Re: Daylily Vs. Hosta


I would be glad to refute most of what you say, but before we get into
specifics, I'm still not sure what you consider a "market".  The fact that I can
take one of my better breeding plants that nobody else has and easily find
someone willing to pay over $100 for it does not mean there is a market for
expensive hostas.  I never said that people were no longer willing to pay $100
for a good hosta.  I even gave examples of some that sell for that much.  That
does not meet my definition of a market.

I looked through an old listing I have from Van Wade, the addendum to his
1996-96 catalog.  It lists approximately 210-215 plants and 21 cost $100 or
more.  Look through last year's Hosta Finder and see what Van is selling his
hostas for now.  There are still plants listed at $100 or more, and Van has
some, but not like there used to be.  I would bet that many of the $100 price
tags are vanity prices, people putting high prices on their own introductions
regardless of what the "market price" should be, and even more important,
regardless of whether people are actually going to pay that much for the plant.
In my world, if there is a real market for $100 plants, you should be able to go
through the Finder and see a reasonable number of plants priced in that range,
and those plants should be offered by more than one nursery, all selling in that
price range.  Instead, what you mostly find, are plants that are offered by only
one nursery, usually the introducing nursery, or you will find one nursery
listing it at a high price and several others selling it for about half that.

I'm not saying that no hostas are worth $100.  I'm saying that a "market" has to
have some significance in the real world in order to be a market, and that the
market for expensive hostas is dead.  In the real world, too many people got
burned by paying big bucks for new hostas only to see them priced at $25 two
years later and they quit buying expensive hostas.  The fact that some hostas
won't do well in tc doesn't mean anything when you are making the purchasing
decision unless you know which ones won't do well.  And most buyers have no way
of knowing that.  Some hostas will always sell for big bucks and some people
will always be willing to buy them, but the market is dead. And the market is
dead because, as a buyer, when you look at a new hosta and consider spending a
lot of money for it, you just know that if you do, it will be pouring out of a
lab next year and everyone will look admiringly at it in your garden and say
"Wow, you paid a hundred bucks for it?  I just saw it in a catalog for twenty

In my world, if the prices the daylily people are getting for these new plants
are logical, it should be because there is a shortage of plants available and a
surplus of customers looking for such plants.  There should not be a large
number of daylilies selling for $100-250 unless there are not enough excellent
daylilies to go around. That's the Law of Supply and Demand. And the corollary
to that law is still - Daylily People are Nuts.

Party on, Garth


njhosta@hotmail.com wrote:

> Hi Chick,
>           Not surprised that you disagree :-), but what kind of theory is it
> that says the only logical explanation is that people are nuts? You have to
> do better than that!
>           Look at a few things:
>           1. At the big national auction it's rare that a nursery gets the
> hot new plant. Almost always it's a collector that's willing to pay the
> most. If a plant seems to have good mass-market potential (and how many
> really do?) the big nurseries might chase it, but mostly now they are all
> selling tried-and-true plain vanilla types. Name ten big headliner new
> varieties coming out this year in big numbers. After 'Liberty'
> there's.......uh,......... So the big TC guys aren't really waiting for
> their chance to snag every exciting new plant that appears are they?
>           2. The start collectors get by buying early is realistically 2-5
> years as things work out if they get the OS piece before the plant went into
> TC. And that's assuming the TC batch does well and we all know that not all
> of them do. Usually a bad TC batch kills further interest in the plant by
> the big labs. They won't keep experimenting trying to get it right.
>           3. The number of new plants that go into TC yearly is far more
> limited than the number of new plants being produced each year. They can't
> get even 10% of them into TC. There are only so many customers out there and
> TC labs are businesses that must turn a profit to survive. They can't just
> settle down to doing a hundred new plants a year to see if any of the
> customers will but that many new ones. You yourself said that at the retail
> level undulata is still the biggest seller, right? As a retailer, how many
> brand new intros do you want to offer each year? Ten? Twenty.
>            4. Only certain types of plants are suited for mass-market TCing.
> Nobody will ever TC 50,000 Sea Prize's or Fascination's, or slow growers
> that need excessive care to do well like 'Tortifrons'. I think we'll see the
> people who put plants into TC learn over time how to pick the ones that will
> do well and start ignoring the ones that will be too much trouble. For
> example: big-buck collector plants like the Lachman's 'Banana Boat',
> 'Falling Waters', and 'Cascades' did not do well in TC. Some plants will be
> available from the TC batches, but not too many, because the percentage of
> liners that made it up to gallon pot size was low. If you bought 100 'Banana
> Boats' as liners, how many did you end up with for sale? They were from
> when, two years ago? How many made it up to gallon size? Some of these
> plants did so poorly that there's almost a collector market for TC problem
> plants.
>             5. TCing plants itself creates new plants. Every time a plant
> goes into TC, two or three new sports seem to come back out. There will
> always be more new plants than can ever be mass-marketed. McDonald's will
> never have five hundred items on their menu, and expensive restaurants will
> never be put out of business by McDonald's. People will always want things
> that can't be had everywhere cheap.
>              I don't think the collector market is dead. I don't think it
> will ever die. I think there's a lot of confusion out there now, caused
> mainly by hype about things like TC plants are always perfect copies of the
> original. A lot of times they are, but not all the time. A TC plant sells on
> the strength of what the original looked as a big plant. As we see more and
> more TC plants that don't come out looking like that (the 'Captain Kirk'
> example for one) I think we'll see a resurgence of collector interest in
> really good forms. McDonald's burgers and Prime filet mignons just aren't
> the same things and won't ever be the same price.
> .......Bill Meyer
> > I think most of you have missed the real question here, which is, does
> Maryland
> > have the slightest chance of beating Duke today?  And of course, the
> answer is -
> > Yes, they do have the slightest chance.
> >
> > Well, this message was interrupted by a basketball game.  And the answer
> is -
> > not only could Maryland beat Duke, they humiliated Duke.  WE'RE NUMBER
> ONE!
> > WE'RE NUMBER ONE!  Well, at least a very strong number three.
> >
> > Bill,
> >
> > Once again, I find myself disagreeing with much of what you write.  To
> start
> > with the last issue in your message, will the high end of the hosta market
> > survive?  The high end of the hosta market is already dead, and in my
> opinion it
> > will never be resurrected.  I guess it depends on how you define a market.
> If
> > you mean a few people who sell a few plants to maintain their own habit,
> that
> > "market" will probably survive. There will always be a few plants that
> maintain
> > a high price for one reason or another, like Dorothy Benedict or My Child
> > Insook.  I looked through last year's Hosta Finder to see what was selling
> for
> > over $100.  The vast majority of high priced hostas were plants that I've
> never
> > heard of that were offered by only one source.
> >
> > There will always be some collectors that are willing to pay a high price
> to get
> > a year's head start or to have OS instead of TC plants, but there are very
> few,
> > and in my opinion the number is getting smaller each year.  Will there
> always be
> > hostas that sell for more than 50 bucks?  Sure, because there are a lot of
> > people breeding hostas out there, and there are a lot of nice plants being
> > produced.  Many of these people don't have the means or the inclination to
> put
> > their plants in a lab, so they produce them in small numbers and try to
> sell
> > them for big bucks.  The reason the market for high priced hostas died is
> that
> > everybody knows that if the plant is any good, one of the first five
> people who
> > buy it is going to send it to a lab and two years later everyone can buy
> it for
> > $15.
> >
> > The difference I saw when I looked at the daylily site was that here was
> one
> > single web site, out of who knows how many daylily sites there are on the
> web,
> > listing 800 different daylilies, and the vast majority of them were priced
> over
> > $100.  Now, it may surprise some of you to know that in my earlier life I
> > studied economics between basketball games at good old U of M.  My thesis,
> by
> > the way, was entitled "Everything I Know About Economics I Learnt Pumping
> Beer
> > at the Varsity Grill".  From what little I remember about the law of
> supply and
> > demand, it went something like "If you got a lot of something, and not
> many
> > people want much of it, chances are you can't get much for it."  I
> understand
> > that these are great daylilies, but it seems to me that there are too many
> > people selling too many expensive daylilies to what has to be a fairly
> small
> > population of people for this to make any sense.  The only explanation I
> can
> > think of is that the corollary to the law of supply and demand states
> simply -
> > Daylily People are Nuts.
> >
> > Chick
> >
> >
> >
> > njhosta@hotmail.com wrote:
> >
> > > 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
> > > yet.
> > >           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.
> > > I
> > > > had meant to respond to it  but..... It is now snowing, and I have
> culled
> > > a
> > > > 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
> > > too....unlike
> > > > 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
> > > daylily
> > > > 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
> > > weeding
> > > > ....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
> > > and
> > > > 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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