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Re: Why Grow Other's Seeds? / Junk Hostas

  • Subject: Re: Why Grow Other's Seeds? / Junk Hostas
  • From: "Bill Meyer" njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 23:23:31 -0500

Hi Chick,
           I don't really think there are any plants that shouldn't be sold.
I think the problems come from the way they're sold. If somebody wants a
plant, there's no reason not to sell it. But nurseries should call it what
it is, not intentionally disguise its flaws (however big) and try to make it
sound like its the greatest thing since the thing before it in the catalog.
Really it's a lot worse with perennials than with hostas, but we all know
not all hostas are great plants. On the other hand all nursery catalogs sell
nothing but great plants if you believe what they say. Those of us who've
been around for a while know better than to believe what is said in
catalogs, even learn to read (translate) what the descriptions really mean.
Anyone who's new, and we all were once, is going to end up with a lot of
plants they wish they didn't buy, though.

........Bill Meyer

> I didn't say that there are no bad hostas, only that it isn't much of a
> problem.
> First of all, Hank's pretty good list of "Bad Plants",  includes Frances
> Williams, Patriot, Tatoo, Great Expectations, White Christmas, all white
> centered hostas, etc, etc. I understand that Hank didn't pick the plants,
> but come on. I was on record long ago as not liking Frances Williams, but
> I thought we were talking about plants that shouldn't be sold. Do you
> really think these plants shouldn't be sold?  I'll go along with any
> plant that drawstrings, and any that won't grow anywhere, but I still
> don't think that amounts to much of a problem.
> Catalog language? Keep in mind that the purpose of a catalog is to sell
> plants.  If someone is dishonest you shouldn't deal with them, but don't
> expect us to stop trying to sell plants.
> Chick
> Bill Meyer wrote:
>   Hi Chick,
>           Hank put together a pretty good list of bad ones. There are more
>   drawstring plants like 'Creme de Menth' and 'Exotic Frances Williams'
>   'Winning Edge', and more "burners" like 'Queen of Islip' and 'Dupage
>   Delight', and more "probably will never grow into a clump even if you
>   100 years" types like 'Snow Cap' and 'Blessings' and 'May T Watts'. Then
>   there are the ordinary solid-color TC culls from variegated plants that
>   fancy names and descriptions instead of going into the trash. As you
>   there are plenty of hostas out there that pretty much stink as garden
>   and that ordinary gardeners will come to regret buying if they do.
>           I think part of Ray's point is that nurseries don't bother to
>   mention that there are problems with a particular plant. Nurseries have
>   language all their own called "Catalog Description", which is similar to
>   English but not quite the same, and this causes a
>   lot of confusion for those
>   who haven't taken a course in comparative commercial languages. For
>   example -- noxious invasive weeds that you will fight a never-ending
>   battle to eliminate (like Houtuynia) in your yard are described in
>   nursery-speak as "Carefree" and "Easy to establish" and "Great for those
>   'trouble spots'". Plants that will never grow in your area no matter
>   you do (like Lewisias) are described as "Needs the right spot" and
>   let this one dry out" and a "plant for that special place". Biennials
>   already in their second year and fated to bloom once and die are
>   as "Short-lived perennials" with advice to "allow to reseed for
>   display". Then there are the various sales promotions aimed at clearing
>   an overstock of some plant they bought too many of and nobody is buying
>   which can result in some remarkable descriptions too.
>            Catalog Description is the language of a happy fantasy world
>   where
>   nothing bad is ever said about a plant. In this fantasy world no plant
>   has any bad traits or problems - it only has positive traits. It's like
>   wacky psychological self-improvement course gone haywire. I suppose you
>   could be sued for slander if you ever accused a plant of something bad.
>            Some might see these practices as dishonest, mainly because
>   havent learned to translate "Catalog Description" into English. Rather
>   the nurseries stopping the sale of bad plants, which they aren't really
>   going to do, what we all would like to see is a translation guide to
>   out what a plant really is by reading the catalogs. With hostas the
>   situation has been complicated by the tissue-culture process, which
>   always as trouble-free as they would like us to believe. Bad batches
>   go out to the retailers that will never grow into decent plants, no
>   what care they're given. Good plants end up getting b
>   ad reputations only
>   because one TC batch went wrong.
>   .........Bill Meyer
>     I guess what I'm saying is that, once again, we've come upon a problem
>     that sounds like a good issue, something that sellers should be
>     of and buyers should be up in arms about, and so far it turns out that
>     we've come up with two plants.  So how big a problem is it really?
>     I'll agree that there is not much justification for growing either of
>     these. But before we get too upset at the growers and warning buyers
>     beware, I think we really have to come up with more than two plants
>     of all the hostas we offer.
>     Boy, it's not easy to stir you guys up.  What's wrong, you all still
>     bloated from stuffing yourselves over the holidays?
>     Chick
>     Stayin' Alive
>         Golden Sunburst is definitely one that should not
>         be sold, and probably Lunar Eclipse could be dropped, but frankly,
>   very
>         few people offer them any more.
>       Unfortunately, Golden Sunburst is offered by 13 retailers and Lunar

>   Eclipse
>       14 per the 2002 Hosta Finder. It is shocking to me that some well
>       businesses continue to sell these plants. Have they no conscious?
>       Only the unknowledgable would buy these hostas.
>       I'm not suggesting that anyone should try to restrict free trade,
but I
>       personally think less of businesses that continue to offer the above
>       hostas. I'm sure there are others.
>       Ray Rodgers, Bartonville, IL, CIHS, Zone 5
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