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Re: Daylily vs. Hosta

I really miss that dog.  But Roxanne has this snake and the snake and the dog just don't get along.  Roxanne says either the dog goes or, well you know.

I have a concession to make, and it's not easy.  I have been wrong.  I made a mistake.  I mis-read Bill's first message and though it is extremely difficult for me to admit, Bill is not as wrong as I thought he was.  In his first message Bill made reference to the high end of the hosta market, which I somehow mis-interpreted to the point where I thought he was claiming there was a market for high priced hostas.  There is a difference.  Obviously there is a high end of the market, and I concede that point to Bill.

Whew, that wasn't easy.

Once again, I think our discussion had degenerated to the point where we are both saying the same thing and just arguing to be arguing.  Nothing wrong with that.


I did not say or mean to imply that the new listings that either Tony or I added this year are plants that weren't offered anywhere before.  In fact, some of mine are older plants. My point was that when people are looking to add plants to their collection, there is no shortage out there. People no longer have to pay a lot of money to add great new - meaning new to their garden - hostas to their collections.  There are probably some people out there who demand that a plant be a brand new introduction, but I think most are just looking for something they don't already have. Even our friend Dave Chopko, who has quite a collection, comes here twice a year and goes away with things he doesn't have every time he comes. There are very few people out there who need to add more hostas to thier garden each year than are available at reasonable prices.  My point is, the reason the market for expensive hostas is dead is that there is no longer any reason for people to pay a lot of money to obtain the best new hostas for their gardens.

You feel that there is a market for expensive plants because there are still a few hosta people (I almost wrote hosta geeks, but many of these people/geeks are my friends, and I used to be one) who will buy plants for big bucks if they can be assured that no one else will have them.  I agree, I just don't consider that an important part of what I think of as the hosta market.  It seems to me that you are trying to say that the high end of the market will be back, apparently because more and more people will discover that they can't find enough good new hostas at reasonable prices.  Once again, I quote from your original message that started the argument: "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..."  That is where your whole theory falls apart. The best plants will continue to reach the labs quickly because it benefits everyone except a small segment of the market.  That small segment of the market is composed of collectors, who will always be there.  I think the buying decision is moving away from "I've got something you don't have" to "That's a gorgeous hosta and I'd like to have it in my garden."  Maybe tc has not been kind to collectors, but it has be great for hosta gardeners.

The difference between our viewpoints is that I think that even if there really is still a high end of the market, it will continue to get smaller and smaller because more and more people will find that they do not need to spend a lot of money to get good plants, and even those who need to have something unique will get tired of buying expensive plants only to see them selling at a reasonable price in a couple years. There is nothing wrong with collecting rare hostas and if you want to buy something rare, you have to pay good money for it.  The disagreement that started this nonsense was, I thought, whether in the future there will be more or fewer people buying high priced hostas.  And that is where I have proven beyond any doubt that you are wrong.

The reason is that if a new plant is really good, it is to nearly everyone's advantage that it be produced by tissue culture.  More people get the plant much earlier, at a far better price, and the introducer makes more money.  The only losers are those who want to be the only ones who have a plant and the people who still think there is something wrong with tc plants. And if these folks want to spend their money for plants that are not propagated by tc, that's just fine.

If anyone is still with me, here is what I think is a perfect example of the benefits of tissue culture.

I have a plant called 'Uncle Albert' and another called 'Mustang Sally', which is a seedling of 'Uncle Albert'.  I introduced Uncle Albert several years ago, and I won't go into details, but it is a plant like no other that I know of, very unusual, but useful mostly for breeding or as a novelty.  Not enough people would want it to justify putting it into a lab.  Only a few plants exist outside of my nursery.  I have sold a few, given a few to friends, donated a couple to auctions.  My current price for the plant is $125.  Others who obtained it earlier may be selling it for less, but I am always sold out of the plant.  I had none to offer last year and none to offer this year.  So obviously there is a market for rare, unusual plants.

'Mustang Sally' has not yet been offered for sale.  It is a green hosta - nope, no variegation - but people seem to like it quite a bit. If everything goes well, I will be introducing Mustang Sally sometime next year, hopefully at the convention.  I don't know what the price will be yet, that still depends on a few unknowns, but I don't expect it to be over $50 and I hope it will be less.  I think it's a pretty good plant, and I have absolutely no doubt that I could get a lot more for it. I already have people calling asking when they can get it, but the wonder of tissue culture means that everyone who wants one can have one at what I think will be a reasonable price the first year the plant is introduced.  I expect to sell many times more plants than I would if I priced it as high as possible and therefore I expect to make more money from my efforts.  It's not exactly coming down to Walmart's level, but nobody looses except those looking for rarities.  There are some who have asked for originator's stock.  Some of these people have done great favors for me in the past, and they will certainly get a piece of OS as soon as I can spare one.  Some are willing to pay big bucks and I will be pleased to provide to them as soon as I have more plants.  In the years before tc, these people would normally be taken care of first, and it would be years before anyone else would have a plant available to them at a price most would want to pay.  Now, the people who think a tc plant at a reasonable price is just fine will get their plants first, and the OS collectors will have to wait until I have enough to go around.  Why would anyone miss the old days?

I suspect there will still be plenty of plants available for the collectors, but if exclusivity is a factor in the buying decision, I'm afraid that the choices will be limited to plants that won't tc, and there will always be a few of them, and to plants that cannot find a market large enough to justify large scale propagation. If that's the part of the hosta market you miss and hope to revive, have at it.  I'll be out here growing hostas for the common folk.


Bill Meyer wrote:

OK Chick,        Where were we? Oh, I remember! You were claiming that you were offering 53 new plants that weren't offered before this year and that Tony is offering another 37, right? Your point would be that a lot more than the less-than-10% figure I gave go into TC every year. Maybe 30%? Nah, I don't buy that. Not even close. How many of those plants are really new on the market? I'm saying that the more varieties there are that are not in TC, the more you'll still see the old-fashioned natural-division $100 and up market continue to work. That's where supply and demand come into play. If you have five divisions of your new hosta and a hundred people want it, then you are going to set the price pretty high, right? If you have a hundred and only five people want it, that price will drop fast. As I said in my bad sentence, that applies to a single plant, not in a general way to all the plants in that price class...............................hold on a minute.......................Uh-oh, this just came in from the First Look HQ.....................better sit down, this is going to be bad. We just received another ransom demand from the evil folks who kidnapped poor Lily. Here it is:         YoU tHinK we'Re fOolinG ARound, tHerE ChiCkyDoodLe? WEll hAve a lOok aT tHe PiCturE We seNt tHis tiME!!!!! HeRe's whAt's gOnnA HapPeN iF oUr DemAndS AreN't mEt!!!!!!!!!! DonAte anOtheR eVenInG wiTH CHicK oR ELse!!!!!!!!! YoU pLay witH Us anD tHe PoOcH iS paStE!!!!!!!!!!!!! HahAHahAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!            I really don't like the looks of this, Chick. Wait a minute......Chick, Chicky, Chickydoodle!? Where have I heard that before? This seems strangely familiar. Like a voice from the past. Hmmmmmmm......I have to think about this.                                                                                                                    .......Bill Meyer picture attached to separate E-mail because of hosta-open size limit
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