Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hosta Seeds

hosta seed pods, unripe hosta seed podHostas are herbaceous perennials that are wildly popular shade plants and available at just about every garden center. Hostas can range from plain green or blue leafed plants to plants with variegated edges and streaks. From large leafed plants to plants with tiny leaves. Because of the range of differences in these plants hostas don't make great "from seed" candidates. Growing hostas from seeds can result in plants that are far different from the plants they were collected from and for the uninformed seed grower/seed trader this can lead to some frustration.

In the spring and summer you'll notice a thin stalk emerge from among the leaves of your hosta and soon flowers appear along the stalk leading up to the tip. My unnamed hostas produce small white to lavender flowers while the hosta in my neighbor's garden produces large flowers with a deep fragance. The flowers appear to be pollinated by bees, wasps and ants eventually producing pendulous seed pods that to me look like green hot dogs. The photo of the hosta seed pods above shows seed pods that are unripe and not ready to be collected.

hosta seeds, hosta seed podIn a couple of weeks the seed pods become tan in color and start to split exposing black, papery seeds. I've noticed that while the seeds look delicate and apt to be blown away by a good strong breeze they surprisingly stay attached to the seed pod for a while after it ripens making them easy to collect. Once you collect your hosta seeds they should be planted soon because they don't remain viable for a long time. You can sow them indoors in late winter in your average seed starting soil keeping them moist and within the 60° to 70°F temperature range and planting them out in the spring after you have hardened them off. For me seed starting space is at a premium indoors so I just take the seeds and bury them 2 inches below the soil line where I want them to grow before the first frost hits in Chicago. In the spring I have hosta seedling growing without any fuss or much care on my part, as a lazy gardener this is my favorite method of sowing perennial seeds.


lisa said...

I'd always just let the seeds "do their own thing", but I may have to try some propogation...thanks!

MrBrownThumb said...

Hey Lisa,

Also good to try to grow some so that you know you have extras and so that you can share them.

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