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RE: Observation

  • Subject: RE: Observation
  • From: "Mary Chastain" <MC_hosta@Bellsouth.net>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 11:40:10 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

Bill I am not guilty of forcing plants. To be honest I don't buy plants that have been forced. Down here (  I will discuss here because that is what I have discovered) growers do what I consider to be a no no. They divide plants in Jan. Pot them. Through them in a green house with a lot of fertilizer and water. In other words force them. That is about as bad as using BAP on a plant before selling it. The plant they offer for sale looks great but next year it is much smaller. The buyer is unhappy. The result are often good for me because they buy from me the next time. The time of potting and the age of the plant plays a big difference in how well the plant will perform in the garden. I don't believe is selling TC that is not mature and has been graded at least 2 to 3 years. In other words the grower should be sure that it is true to type, strong and healthy.  I feel that in impossible when small plants are sold. The buyer may save a few dollars but it is a gamble as to what he or she may get.
There are some seedlings that develop a great root system. Those that do the best are ready for two gallon containers by the first of June. They will often have two flowering times the first year. I have discovered that the pod parent influences the growth of the seedling. For example I can count on at least 2/3 of the seedlings from certain parents will give me the great growth that I want.  For the past three years I have paid special attention to some of these. As new lines develop I watch to see what is happening. Some may get a little slower start but  with the roots they soon catch and pass those that are more top and less root. For example the past two years, I have worked with a new line of streaked blue plants all from the same parent. They were slow to come up and get started but the roots were strong and by mid summer they were ahead of others. I am really excited about them. The crosses from this mother plant has given me the most varied growth habits and leaf shapes that I have ever had from one parent. I have upright growth, mound type growth, round leaves, long leaves, shiny leaves puckered leaves, cupped leaves and so on. I have selected several for observation for the next several years.
I understand how you have developed your thoughts on roots. I still believe that roots make the plant. If Chick's idea that they grow roots to get water is correct, then why are the plants in a dry garden so often lacking in a healthy root system?  Enough for today. I am not trying to change minds or thoughts on the matter. Until I learn better through experience, I will stick to my ideas and expect everyone to do the same.
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com [mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Bill Meyer
Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2001 10:07 PM
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: Observation

Hi Mary,
       The reason I think a large root system could be bad is that the roots seem adapted to the soil they are growing in. That's why the roots on a plant grown in the ground are so much different than the roots of one grown in a pot. If a plant is pushed the way Chick described the Mobjack plant, they develop a huge root system, but one that is adapted to the highly unusual Rain-Forest-like growing conditions in the nursery. If these plants are taken home and put in the ground, some varieties seem to have a lot of trouble adapting to the new conditions. I've seen large, healthy looking gallon-pot size plants transplanted to the ground by well-known hosta gardeners in June lose all their leaves within a month. These plants haven't rotted, and they send up new top growth and get going again, but by the following year they are much smaller than they would have been had they adapted better.
        The artificially large root systems of heavily pushed plants are the exception to the rule about larger root systems. Normally bigger is better, and if those plants are not transplanted into the ground, it probably wouldn't be a problem there. With seedlings I've found too that plants with similar size tops often have widely varying sized roots under them. I wonder if some seedlings have more efficient root systems. Have you noticed whether the size of the root system on a seedling directly cooresponds to how it grows eventually?
                                                                                      .............Bill Meyer 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2001 7:08 PM
Subject: RE: Observation

Bill I agree with most of your post but can not understand why you feel a large root system could be bad.  I feel that it is the strong roots that give strong plants plus more increase in crowns.  The time that the plant is transferred to the garden has a big affect on the root system for the next season. Down here our hostas grow new roots from  mid May through June. Planting after that  that usually means that the plant will wait the until next year before adding much to the root system so if planted late the plant may not do as well the first full year in the ground.  Like any perennial the first year  usually shows little growth compared to the second.  If I have to choose between large strong roots or smaller ones the small ones are left every time.  I even consider the size of roots when I am selecting young seedlings.
I have discovered that the reason some plants don't transplant as well is because the person that buys the plant places it in the garden without cleaning the potting soil from the roots. That is bad and can cause all kinds of problems. I always tell them that if they want to use the soil mix in the container to mix it well with the garden soil.
We always add trace elements to our potting soil if it is not added at the factory. At present we are using Bio-Comp mix which has been developed to keep down aphids, and other pest. This year for the first time I had almost no cutworm. It also fights rot and other disease.
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com [mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Bill Meyer
Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2001 1:03 PM
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: Observation

HI Everybody,
          I'm not sure why hostas produce such different root systems between pots and ground, but they clearly do. Take a large potted plant with a huge root system and plant it in the ground and the following year the plant may be bigger, but the root system is clearly much smaller. I have a retail nursery near me who does pretty much the opposite of what most commercial growers do as far as their mix goes. They use a very rich, fine mixture with a lot of mushroom soil (old manure) in it. They really don't lose too many through the winter, as might be expected, and they've been doing this for years. Growth is really very good and rot only a problem with certain varieties, particularly 'Aristocrat' and 'Great Expectations". The actual growth rate is not much slower than the airy, chunky mixes favored by Southern growers. These lightweight mixes tend to show the most root growth, while the rich heavy mix favored by these people shows root growth that is only about half that.
          There does seem to be a tie-in between root growth and the density and richness of the soil. Producing the highest root-growth possible may not make for the best plant, if the plant is intended to be placed in the ground that season, though. Plants grown in very light mixes often don't adapt well to the transition.
           It may not be only the physical structure that causes the difference in the root systems. One possibility is that it may be tied to trace elements not found in potting mixes or the most commonly used fertilizers. Has anyone tried using trace element supplements on their potted plants? If so, has it made a difference?
                                                                                              ...........Bill Meyer

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