The genetic information about all types of living organisms is multiplying exponentially today. It is growing in terms of our understanding of hostas too. As a Hosta Rookie, it is probably a little early to clog your mind with too much of this stuff. So, here are a few of the basics that will get you off to a good start. How much deeper you want to go into the science of genetics is up to you.
Hostas have 30 chromosomes in each of the male i.e. pollen, and female i.e. egg, parts. During the normal fertilization process 30 chromosomes come from the mother and 30 from the father for a total of 60. This is called a diploid or 2n plant which represents 2 sets of chromosomes that make up the genetic information in the resulting seeds and seedlings. Continue reading →
The big question that has circulated around the hosta world since the beginning of tissue culture (TC) is, “Are tissue cultured hostas as good as those divided from a plant growing in the ground?” The answer is a resounding, YES! Just like taking a knife and cutting a part of a hosta crown off to make a division, TC plants are exactly the same as the mother plant.
I think some of the confusion comes from a couple of factors. First, in their effort to make a quicker return on their investment, some nurseries sell tiny, little TC plants in two inch pots. Of course, it may take a year or two for these to grow to the size of a single division taken directly from a mature mother plant. But, they will eventually catch up.
The mountain ash (Sorbus species) may come from the mountain but it is not really an ash tree (Fraxinus species). It is actually a close relative the apples (Malus), pears (Pyrus) and roses (Rosa) since it is a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae). Therefore, it is susceptible to many of the same diseases of its relatives including the fungal leaf disease, apple scab and the more serious bacterial disease, fireblight. The better news is, that since it is not a true ash, it does not get attacked by the Emerald ash borer which is in the process of killing millions and millions of ash trees throughout the Midwest.
Hostas are often called “shade loving” plants. For the average gardening public, this helps them to understand that these plants are adapted to growing in the shade. However, for more advanced hobbyists or professionals, this is a misnomer.
All vascular plants live by a process called photosynthesis. They capture the energy from the sun and, unlike animals, they make their own food. For photosynthesis to work, a plant must have five things including light, water, nutrients from the soil and the air, chlorophyll and suitable temperature. The minimum levels of each of these factors required may vary from species to species but they all must be present in certain amounts for photosynthesis to take place in that plant.
So far, all 43 hosta species have been found to be native to parts of Asia only. The largest number come from the various islands of Japan while smaller numbers of species originated in Korea and China. Several European plant explorers “discovered” hostas and started to bring them back to be introduced into Europe.
In a broad sense, there are two types of gardens commonly found in home landscapes. One is called a “collection garden” which is the type grown by people who are dedicated to one genus or category of plant.
Hosta Collector’s Garden
For instance, there are said to be over 60,000 named cultivars of daylilies (Hemerocallis). There are over 8,000 named cultivars of Hosta. For each of these and other species such as iris (Iris), peonies (Paeonia) or roses (Rosa) with large numbers, there are gardeners whose primary goal is to accumulate as many specimens as they can. These gardens tend to prominently display all the most recent, “cutting edge” cultivars in addition to the old classics. Often there are few, if any, other species of plants included in collection gardens.