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RE: Hosta Ramblings---and milking the AHS membership


>Hostas are at a point in their history where it is impossible for a
>collector to keep up with all of the new introductions. This is just 
>as well because in time at least 75% of these new introductions will 
>disappear from the trade because they are not worth growing. 
>Daylilies have been down this path already and hostas are hot on 
>their heels.

If hostas follow daylilies, there will be a lot more then 75% of new 
introductions disappearing from the trade.  Right now there aren't as 
many hostas being registered as daylilies, although more hostas are 
probably being sold that are not registered then for daylilies.  The 
daylily society was registering about 1000 daylilies a year.  Off hand 
I would say half of these were vanity registrations.  Maybe 200-300 of 
the registered daylilies get a formal introduction, although many of 
these are not given much serious promotion.  After a few years maybe 
50 of the 1000 plants registered are readily available in the trade.  

Hostas are somewhat different from daylilies in that many people who 
claim to be involved in hybridizing are really not doing much more 
then looking for sports rather then making crosses and working for a 
long term goal.  What happens when you get a certain number of people 
involved in hybridizing is that there becomes a race to stay ahead and 
hybridizers/growers tend to start introducing plants just to support 
their hybridizing rather then to introduce plants because of some 
superiority.  It's not difficult to get a decent hosta seedling, but 
it's difficult to find something that is really different from 
anything else already in the trade.  What will happen is that there 
will be more and more "new" hostas that are not worth the high 
introduction price.  You will easily be able to find a lower priced 
and older hosta that has a similar look.  We are at that stage now 
with daylilies where the new introductions are not much different from 
introductions from the last three or four years and few of them are 
really worth buying.  The only people buying the new, expensive 
introductions are collectors and propagators.

I don't know about other parts of the country, but many of the mass 
marketers out here in the Pacific Northwest are starting to ask for 
certain named hostas rather then "variegated" hostas.  The problem 
with mass marketers is that they respond to a name.  If enough peope 
come in asking for June, then they will ask their suppliers for June. 
They probably have no idea what June looks like, but they do know 
enough customers are willing to buy it.  

Joe Halinar

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