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Re: Fall Gold Hostas

  • Subject: Re: Fall Gold Hostas
  • From: "W. George Schmid"
  • Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 18:41:27 -0400

Hi Glen,
Just what perversity may be at work? - NONE!
Really none. Nature is not perverse, it's just that we are either perverse
and/or don't understand nature sometimes.
The H. plantaginea thing is a fairly easy one to solve and I found the
solution to this puzzle many, many years ago. I saw wonderful green clumps
after untimely frosts in northern Italy. It did not affect them at all and
they were as green as can be. I studied this phenomenon and found it's a
matter of plant life sycle timing. This species is a late bloomer and set up
to go through its cycle, cold nights or not. Unless there is a cut-it-down,
hard freeze, it just keeps carrying on, usually because it wants to bloom
and procreate but up north the season isn't usually long enough to let it.
There is plenty of glucose in its veins to let it endure cold or frosty
nights and only a cut-it-down hard freeze will finally convince it to quit.
Early bloomers, on the other hand, have gone through their bloom/seed cycles
and are now at a stage that will let absciscic acid develop (a plant hormone
that triggers dormancy and color change - it shuts down chlorophyll and the
fall colors come to the fore - beautiful gold and orange in hostas). The
Late bloomers are not at a stage that will let that hormone develop - after
all they still want to procreate - so they don't get yellow  (i.e., shut
down their chlorophyll cycle) expecting it will get warmer and they will be
able go on to be productive. This usually happens in their native habitat.
They have cold nights there too but warmth invariably returns so it is
equipped to stand a few cold nights.
We are the ones who are perverse, taking these plant from their native
habitat and asking them to perform in a climate that they will never adjust
to (not in human lifetimes). Perverseness is humanity's middle name and we
are doing a bang-up job living up to it. For nature it is rebus sic
stantibus and there is nothing we can do about it. H. plantaginea is trying
to tell us that. George

W. George Schmid
Hosta Hill - Tucker Georgia USA
Zone 7a - 1188 feet AMSL
84-12'-30" West_33-51' North
Outgoing e-mail virus checked by NAV
----- Original Message -----
From: "Glen Williams" <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2003 11:22 AM
Subject: Fall Gold Hostas

> Greetings All:
>  Over the last 10 or 12 days we have had perhaps a couple of nights that
> have hit 31 degrees. Mostly it's in the the 40s. The hostas seem to be
> "going down" in slow motion. About 2/3 are gold/orange clumps of tissue
> paper now. Quite attractive if you don't look too cloasely. None have gone
> down to ground yet.
> The other 1/3 of my hostas are amazingly green with very few signs of the
> inevitable gold/brown edges. What I can't seem to sort out is just why
> are now on life support while others are looking so good. Logic would have
> it that thicker leaves might still be green while tissue paper hostas
> now be on the ground. Not true, there are too many exceptions to the idea
> of thickness and thinness of a leaf, to seem to be a reliable guage of
> goes first.
> There is also the question of the plantagenea species (our tropical hosta
> which is not exactly fond of colder climates); these leaves are still
> green, if not quite as healthy looking as some of the others.I haven't
> looked at all the species and collected information, but if plantagenea is
> an indicator of species staying power this time of year, then the question
> becomes moot.
> Amongst the hostas that are still up and green are Mary Chastain's hostas,
> which were bred in exactly a yankee state. So the southern
> factor,  if not eliminated, is at least in question.
> So, I am asking you botanists out there, what factors are at work here in
> keeping some hostas looking good, while other are on the way to their late
> fall oblivion?Perhaps some hosta names have greater staying power? Or
> inexpensive hostas last longer? Just what perversity may be at work?
> Hebdomad  n: a week; seven days
> Glen Williams
> 20 Dewey St.
> Springfield , Vermont
> 05156
> Tel: 802-885-2839
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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