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Why Grow Other's Seeds?

  • Subject: Why Grow Other's Seeds?
  • From: Jaspersail@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 03 Jan 2003 15:48:02 -0500

Chick tried to liven things up with:

<<It's just my opinion, but personally, I don't see the point of germinating other people's seeds when it is so much more fun to make your own crosses.>>

Thankfully we don't have to choose -- we can do both!  I made hundreds of hand-crosses this year and am having great fun watching my seedlings develop. But I also bought seed from (and traded seed with) other hybridizers this year. And that seed's been fun too.

Why germinate other's seed?  For future breeding purposes, I like to add new genes -- and their accompanying genetic traits -- from other hybridizers to my own mix. It's kind of like adding a new color to my breeding 'pallette'; it gives me more options on my hybridizing 'canvas.' Seed is sometimes the next best option when the parent plant is unavailable or too costly.

Also, some of us may have more seed-growing space than our own plants can fill.  Acquiring seed helps us 'fill the void' that our limited breeding stock creates.

Another reason:  Hand crossing is hard work!  This was my first year of controlled crosses on a fairly large scale ('large scale' in a limited, amateur-grower-kind-of way!) and it was more labor- and time-intensive than I imagined. And I was late to work every day! I'm sure many seed growers can do without the hassle.  

It's also just plain fun to grow seeds and see what you might get, whether from hand-crosses or open pollination. As you know, most hosta hybrids are a motley mutt-mix of genes. Each seedling is a new combination of those genes (except in
some cases from ventricosa apparently) and some truly odd things can appear. Sure, only buying 20-25 seeds doesn't get you many rolls of the dice, but when the investment is small, there's minimal risk.  (Unless you're being scammed on eBay!) 

Lastly, for many of us Winter is just a delay in springtime and growing seedlings eases the wait. As you surmised, there are some of us who have no anticipation of getting "world class seedlings."  But there's nothing I enjoy more this time of year than going home from work and looking over my hosta babies -- whether my own or 'adopted.'

--John Christensen
Ann Arbor, MI, Zone 5

P.S.  Despite rumors to the contrary, my first-born is the pick of the litter.

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