Getting carried away

Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

Once again I will be getting carried away getting new to me hostas. I have made my list and checked it twice. I'm going to be naughty and buy 80 varieties as soon as possible.

I jumped the gun again this year and brought 48 varieties in pots into the house a few days ago to help with my hosta cravings. The eyes are swelling and shortly I will have pretty foliage to get me through until all of the nurseries start opening up around here in April. I need my hosta fix.

The picture is Ice Age Trail that I got last year.

Thumbnail by franknjim
Falls Church, VA

I understand you perfectly well. Once you start with the hosts, there's no end, and you never have enough. My only problem is that during the winter I lose the labels, and right now, I can only identify about 1/3 of them. Any suggestions as how to permanently label them?

Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

Take a lot of photos at different times of the year and rename them with the name of the main hosta in the picture. You can use those to help you remember what is what by the position in the photo compared to the others that you can identify in the pictures.

Over the winter I look around at my markers several times through the season and take care of any that are getting heaved out by the freezes. I am very careful when raking the beds in the spring. I never wait to take care of a marker. I have 243 varieties and all of them are marked repeatedly. Some have 3 markers together all saying the same thing. Any markers that are written in permenant marker that start to fade are gone over again as needed. It is a constant thing that must be taken care of always, even in the winter.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

If you ever want to share a few 'Ice Age Trail' seeds...just let me know. ;)

Bringing hostas in pots into the house to get your hosta fix is pretty hardcore! I haven't gone quite that far. This year, I placed a Hallson's order (small, because my husband lost his job in November), made lists of all the hostas I will eventually have in my garden, read and reread The Hosta Journal (the Fall print edition and the online one), scoured all the new offerings at various hosta nurseries, and built a new website for the hosta society I belong to.

This is how you beat cabin fever!

Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

This will be the year I jump into hybridizing. I had been resistant to streaked hosta for years now since I was used to perfect leaves. Since I saw and bought Ice Age Trail it has changed my mind. Now I am researching all of the main streaked breeders and compiling my list with prices to build up a collection of them to start making my own crosses. I have a goal set in mind to go for giant streaked hostas since there are none. My Empress Wu freely sets seed and has lots of seedlings surrounding it that came up on their own. Ice Age Trail blooms at the same time so I will be trying that first along with Komodo Dragon. A giant streaker with piecrust edge would be nice.

I have started reading up on how to do it. It looks pretty easy. From how the flowers open on hostas, I think a person can do multiple crosses on just one scape. This should be interesting and my newest obsession. I'll have to build some new beds for growing out seedlings. The hardest part for me will be culling since I find it very difficult to throw away even the smallest scrap from a hosta.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I look forward to seeing what you get with your 'Ice Age Trail' and 'Empress Wu' crosses! Ditto the 'Komodo Dragon' cross. I really should get 'Ice Age Trail.' I bought some seeds from 'Ice Age Trail,' but haven't picked up the plant yet. I guess I'm a little bummed that my 'Christmas Tree Gala' stabilized within one year and I never even had a chance to breed it.

My first experiment with seeds last year yielded a couple of nice little streakers. (I got a mixed batch of seeds out of streaked pod parents from Chris at Hallson's.) We'll see how they look this year, if they survive this icky winter with hardly any snow cover.

Peoria, IL(Zone 5a)

Jim's Hostas sells alot of seeds but with that you don't know what was crossed other than the pod parent. I have to do some serious investing in streaked breeders. Some of them are still pretty expensive even though they have been around a long time. The eight oldies but goodies that I want will be probably cost around five or six hundred. I usually spend that in a year anyways, only difference will be the number of hostas I get. Eight instead of eighty.

I picked up my Ice Age Trail from a local lady selling hostas out of her yard. I only paid $15.00.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Wow--nice deal on 'Ice Age Trail.' You lucked out!

'Christmas Tree Gala' is another one known to be a good breeder, and it's reasonably priced. But, like I said, mine stabilized to 'Christmas Tree.' :(

Sounds like you're definitely getting serious. For me, I wouldn't mind hybridizing the way Margaret Seaver did--cut the scapes off the hostas you don't want to breed, leave the scapes on the ones you do, and let the bees do the rest. Of course, it's nice to know what the pollen parent is, too, but...I just don't have it in me to get up at the crack of dawn and lie on the ground hand pollinating a bunch of hostas. I'll take what I get and, who knows? Might get lucky. :)

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