America Held Hosta

There’s a reason hostas are the #1 perennial in the US. The incredible diversity of leaf shapes, sizes, and colors are one, combined with the array of climates in which they thrive. It’s long been rumored that hostas don’t grow well here in Zone 7b, but that simply isn’t the case if you prepare your soil properly (lots of compost) and allow for plenty of summer moisture.

Below are a few hosta cultivars that are looking particularly nice this week at JLBG. Of course, the proverbial deer-in-the-room is that hosta make quite the tasty buffet for both humans and wood rats. Deer fences and organic sprays all work, but the breakthrough will come when CRISPR technology is used to implant the Capsaicin (pepper) gene in hostas, rendering them too hot for most deer.

Here are a few of our favorites this week. Hosta ‘California Gold Rush’ has shown incredible vigor.

Hosta ‘California Gold Rush’

Love the over-the-top waviness of Hosta ‘Wheee!’

Hosta ‘Wheee!’

Hosta ‘One Last Dance’ has it all…vigor, size, ruffles, a nice flower show, and great leaf coloration. Did I mentioned that it’s also very sun tolerant if the soil is moist?

Hosta ‘One Last Dance’

Hosta ‘Coast to Coast’ is also very sun tolerant with amazingly corrugated leaves and great vigor on a fairly large clump.


Hosta ‘Coast to Coast’

Hosta ‘Do Wap’ is one of our yet to be introduced hybrids from our work to create blue hostas that hold the color well into the summer.

Hosta ‘Do Wap’

Hosta ‘Pie ala Mode’ didn’t get a lot of fanfare when it was introduced, but this has been exceptional in our gardens at JLBG. Hope these entice you to explore this amazing genus.

Hosta ‘Pie ala Mode’

New Notocactus

Several of our volunteers have dabbled with cactus breeding, so here is one of the hybrids we’re currently enjoying at JLBG, thanks to the creative efforts of Mike Papay. The top image is the female parent, Notocactus ottonis (yellow). The middle image is the male parent, Notocactus herteri var. roseoluteus (pink). The bottom image is the new hybrid, Notocactus x hertonis (peachy orange).

Notocactus ottonis
Notocactus herteri var. roseoluteus
Notocactus x hertonis

Hosta ‘Branching Out’ – a breeding breakthrough

Hosta Branching Out PDN04-098 flowers3(64708)ccOne of the most rewarding parts of our work is being able to introduce a plant we’ve taken from idea (branched flower scapes) to reality. We are finally able to share our latest creation this week with the introduction of Hosta ‘Branching Out’. The first cross in the long road from creation to market took place here in 1989.  A seedling was selected that was later crossed with another 1995 seedling, which was later crossed with a 1999 seedling, which in 2004 was crossed with the blue-leaved Hosta ‘Pewterware’, after we noticed that both hostas would occasionally produce a single-branched flower scape.  We evaluated the resulting 2004 seedlings for several years before paring down their numbers in the semi-final cut. We were looking for good branching, attractive flowers, and sturdy stems. Once the final selection was made, we watched it for four more years to make sure it consistently branched in the garden, during which time, we also sent it north to evaluate its performance in colder climates.  Not wanting to significantly disturb the main clump, we removed a single division in 2012, which was divided annually.  Finally, in 2016, we are pleased to release our new baby to gardeners around the world.  We hope you find this as exciting in your garden as we do in ours.

 

Hosta parentage

Thanks for the great feedback on the hosta image.  Since most folks don’t have experience in plant breeding, we thought it might be interesting to share the crosses and parents involved to get to this point.  Our Hosta is PDN#10-004 and is a cross of PDN07-0793  x ((PDN05-156 x PDN04-180) (kikutii x ‘Gemstone’ (venusta ‘Minima’ x ‘Dorset Blue’) (longipes ‘Tardiflora’ x sieboldiana) x (venusta ‘Minima’ x self)) x PDN07-0100 ((‘Faith’ (‘Evening Magic’ (montana gold x sieboldiana) x ‘Big Daddy’ (‘Fortunei Robusta’) x PDN04-182) (kikutii x ‘Gemstone’) venusta ‘Minima’ x ‘Dorset Blue’ (longipes ‘Tardiflora x sieboldiana) x ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ (Blue Cadet sport))  So, the species included in creating this are Hosta venusta, sieboldiana, kikutii, longipes, and montana.