Hi Ray ,
I am going to write this as if I were right about the entire process of
seed collection as well of the adventure of raising them. There are a lot
of ways to get there but this is how I do it. No other claims. I hope that
there are other voices.
I collect seed in September and October. I wait for for one of the pods
to start to split and then cut the stem with the seeds and put it in a
brown paper bag. In a few days most of the pods have split or are ripe.
This year's crazy weather may changes the timing of the seed harvest. I for
one have had 5 more weeks of hostas than I have ever had before. I take
the seed s and clean them on the kitchen table with a small brush. The
seeds are stored in very small zip lock bags in the fridge until I am ready
to plant them. I plant them the first of November. I generally plant about
2,000 seeds . This year I will double that- I have a lot of crosses which
have taken. I would add here that the 2,000 number has always been
reduced to 40 or 50 plants by June. 10 or 20 by September. Be ruthless! You
are no doubt throwing away award winning hostas but so is everyone else.
The one that got away is part of our mythology.
I use Pro-Mix for planting. I dampen the soil and bake it in the oven
for an hour or two at 300 degrees. This is to kill fungus gnat eggs as
well as other possible vermin. The smell is memorable. Tangy with a full
body- a southern slope mix.
I also use Styrofoam containers with clear plastic lids and a felt
wick which allows them to draw water up to the seeds from a bottom pan. I
place the seeds on top of the soil and sprinkle some fine sphagnum on top
(very lightly). I cover them and put them in a warm dark place for about 10
days. Sprouting can occur between 8 and 14 days. I then place them under
cheap fluorescent lights ( grow lights are a waste of money). The lights
are 2 or 3 inches above the seedlings. I use a 24 hour light routine. At
the fourth leaf I start to add a very mild fertilizer. In January I am
ready for my first culling. I first eliminate all those with red leaves. I
think this culling is more luck than science. Another one in April allows
to pass a little more intelligent aesthetic judgment. I now get rid of
the ones with pink and white leaves. I have had bloom as early as March
with some of my seedlings.
The real fun comes now in the years to come as character that you had
not dreamed of starts to emerge from the seedlings. Each year you simply
can't wait to see what has happened.
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