Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 2015 First Edition

Plants Flushing, Scaping, and Giving Late Season Color!

Following Up From Last Edition

Welcome back ... In the last edition I bandied around the phrases of 'First Season' and 'First Year'.  Some of you might wonder what I mean by these phrases.  For me the Phrase 'First Season' suggests a plant that has not passed through a winter.  A 'First Year' plant is one that has successfully survived it's first Winter.  This naturally continues with 'n' Year, or season, as each winter counts as another year of success when the plant returns.  To take this slightly further I have tried Blue Mammoth for 6 years and never succeeded; it could be just as reasonable for me to say I have tried Blue Mammoth for 6 seasons and never succeeded as well.  Had I kept Blue Mammoth inside successfully over 6 winters I could still be able to say that I've had Blue Mammoth for 6 seasons as it would have never been exposed to a winter.  There are growers who do keep hosta away from winter weather.

I've also been pondering bloom times a lot.  Emerald Tiara (no longer in my collection) was seen blooming at two different times of the year; mid-Summer and mid-Autumn.  I now have Empress Wu blooming a month late to its generally accepted time; and Little Sunspot along with Golden Tiara are sending scapes up out of season as well!  I'm not convinced that genes have the entire answer to when hosta bloom.  My suspicion says the local climatic dynamics plays a very heavy role in this process as well.  Hosta in the southern USA have a growing season of sometimes 11 months, while on the other hand Hosta in Alaska, USA may have 3 to 4 months of growing season; with nearly 24 hours of light I might add.  My thoughts say that the genes might indicate when during the spring, summer, or fall the hosta blooms, but I don't think the moment is tightly tied to the genes.

Hosta On the Way

White Feather
  • Attempt #1: Is concluded.
  • Attempt #2:
    • 1/??/16  Will reorder the plant from Nursery C during early January.
    • 4/??/16  Will schedule the arrival for late April.
  • Ordered on: 9/24/15 (3 new plants)
  • Shipped on: 9/29/15
  • Received on: 9/30/15 (6 divisions received)

Why Grow a Difficult Hosta?

Some of you might wonder why I would pursue a hosta that most might put on the Top 10 Hardest Hosta to Grow list:  White Feather.  Well ... I believe that every gardener must try to challenge themselves from time to time.  Last spring I was able to pull through PopcornPopcorn by some hosta standards is suggested to be a 1:50 hosta.  It is a plant that one out of every fifty gardeners can grow successfully ... at least that's what I have been told.  I feel that I need another new challenge.  So I've chosen White Feather to be that next challenge.

This variety has a transformational pigmentation.  It starts pure white, and then as the temperature rises the plant transforms to what I call as a 'Sea Foam' Green for the remainder of the summer.  The white is not lost as it returns each spring to spike in white, and passes through the same cycle annually.  The trick, I think, for this plant is the fertilizing of the plant a little later in the season thus insuring that it has the energy to return in the spring - once more.  The second key here is the temperature.  The faster the temperature rises the sooner the green appears.  My reading about this plant suggests that 60°F / 15.56°C seems to be the trigger point for the green to start its appearance.  As Minnesota seems to bring hosta spiking at 50°F / 10.00°C with 60°F / 15.56°C soon following  after I am thinking (hoping) that St. Paul, Minneosta will be somewhat ideal for this variety. We'll see what happens as they are acquired and over the next few years with this gardener's challenge.

What might be some of the others on the list of Top 10 Hardest Hosta to Grow?  These are offered for that list in alphabetical order:
  • Nougat
  • Oil on Canvas
  • Popcorn
  • White Feather
  • Work of Art
All of these have the characteristic of being dominated by white.  Many of these have irregular coloration, and all of these probably need a little more sun than normal.  These are probably not for every gardener growing hosta, but they would challenge any hosta grower if they were attempted.

[May my readers correct me IF I'm wrong]  It is my understanding that Hosta 'Oil on Canvas', and 'Work of Art' are not available in the USA at this time.  Most Hosta sellers who have access to White Feather ask for pre-orders starting as early as January since it is imported into the US from the Netherlands.  Nougat is extremely hard to find but can be found in the USA.  Popcorn is somewhat easy to locate.

IF I had a list of Top 10 Fun Hosta White Feather might also be on that list too as I've been told that friends of Hosta growers come visit and see the showy white hosta in the early spring, and they come back later in the season and they have to ask 'What happened to that white hosta?' ...

Good Ideas Come Late in the Season ...

I have to wonder some times if there are others who are as passionate about hosta as I am.  In this case I am wondering if there are any hosta growers who read this blog who are East of the Mississippi who are also in the St, Paul, Minnesota area who might like to meet, gather, and chat about hosta a few times a year?  Any interested persons feel feel free to contact me either through here with my e-mail at the top right of the page or directly at MstrPBK @ q . com [remove spaces].

Hosta Observations

During this period of time the garden is seeing a lot of leaf flushes.  For the novice gardeners out there a 'leaf flush' is when the plant sends out several new leaves during late season.  Imp, Snake Eyes, Hacksaw, Vulcan, Rainbow's End, The Razor's Edge, Tortifrons, and all of my Mouse Ears all seem to have the leaf flush 'thing' going on.

Church Mouse
  • 9/20/15  To much of my amazement, and some horror, I see signs of a late season slug on one of the NEW leaves.  It's time for more ammonia!  Up and to this time I seem to have had a slug free garden this year ... and last.

Holy Mouse Ears
  • 9/22/15  The second round has lost one of its variegated leaves for some reason.  It looks dried and I know that we've had more than ample rain and water.  The other variegated leaf is still there.

  • 9/22/15  One of the 5 leaves that survived the heat a few weeks ago is gone but the flush of new leaves in its place makes up for this loss.
  • 9/29/15  There are two last leaves of the ORIGINAL leaves of the season, and the small flush of leaves left.

Snake Eyes
  • 9/20/15  Has some great leaf coloration going on.  Really pleased to see that.
  • 9/21/15  I think the plant has grown to a width of about 10 in. / 25.40 cm.  My thought is that its beginning to look impressive where it has been planted.  It might be hard to move out when the other hosta around it become 'big and strong hosta'.  Who would have thought that Chaos and Destruction would be so beautiful!
  • 9/22/15  I went back to measure the width of the plant and it is just over the 10 in. / 25.40 cm.  This puts the plant at just about 1/4th of the width that it can get at 40 in. / 101.60 cm.

  • 9/20/15  Leaves are fighting to see who can stand the furthest up.  There's definitely life here.
  • 9/22/15  The fight to stand tallest continues!  This is making the plant look spectacular.

  • 9/24/15  This unique hosta has captured so much of my attention I've ordered another 3 to go with what I had to bring the total to 4 of these plants.  They may arrive in about a week.  The first (original) plant is just beginning to send a new leaf up.  While online information suggests is that this a fast grower; however what I've seen suggests that it takes a little time to adapt its new surroundings.  Of the four plants acquired back on 8/20/15, this one is the last to respond to its new growing conditions by starting to send a new leaf out.
  • 9/29/15  The order for the 3 Tortifrons has been confirmed.  Second new leaf on its way up!

  • 9/15/15  When this hosta came in I put it a side for about 4 days before I planted it (along with Popcorn).  When it came time to plant one of the leaves fell off.   I looked it carefully and saw nothing to suggest why it fell off.  I nearly threw it out, but ... on a whim ... I planted it at the center of the other 4 plants that were planted.  If it died no-one would notice.  I really did not think much would come to it as I didn't even see any rhizome hair at the base of the leaf.  But as I have noted before Hosta can be amazing plants.  As I looked at this single leaf which was planted just over a week ago during my daily hosta inspection today I find the leaf is wanting to stand up and be very much alive with the others.  This says that everything was in the ground to kickstart this single, solitary, leaf to become its own plant.  If I stretch the truth just a little, the $54.00 USD* for 6 plants at $9.00 USD a plant might actually be said to be $54.00 USD for 7 plants at $7.72 USD per plant.  I think that's a pretty good deal to pull an extra plant out of any shipment.
*USD = United States Dollar
  • 9/20/15  All of these plants look a little ratty.  I am hoping this is due to cooler evening temperatures in the 50°F and 60°F/10.00°C and 15.56°C range.  Mom used to say that if a hosta did not have at least one leaf standing straight up that suggested that the plant was not well.  I've got petiole standing up all over the place, but not their leaves.  Going to have to hope they survive the winter.  Leaf flushing is there but not it's not exuberant.

Hosta Scapes and Blooms

Empress Wu
  • 9/15/15  It's official.  I have a late scheduled scape on Empress Wu.  Now we have to wait to see just how tall this gets!
  • 9/20/15  The Peduncle (aka scape stem) is at leaf level.  Definitely a large diameter peduncle on the scape; as I try to imagine just how tall this one's going to become.  The pod of the flower already looks its light pink for when it opens.
  • 9/22/15  The scape has grown about 4 in. / 10.16 cm. since the 20th.  This puts it just above the leaves.
  • 9/23/15  What was barely above the leaves yesterday is now probably a about 3 in. / 7.62 cm. above the leaves today (just over 12 in. / 30.48 cm.).  Normally one might think the scape has reached it's peak and would begin to separate its flowers.  But we, as hosta growers, know better about the Empress as she's just beginning her extraordinary show.  Presuming that the math holds out ... that suggests that in 16 days (on October 8th) I will be seeing, the full height of this scape.
  • 9/24/15  Scape is now approximately 18 in. / 45.72 cm. long (6 in. / 15.24 cm. above the plant).  Yes – it has grown that much!  However the first of the flower petals have separated from the main cluster; note this is not a green flower bract.  Normally I would say this is a sign that the scape will only stand about 24 in. to 30 in. / 60.96 cm. to 76.20 cm. in hight; but as this is Empress Wu and the flower is quite different from other hosta flowers I'm going to take a step back, and wait to see what really happens.
  • 9/27/15  Finally actually measured the scape at 20 in. / 50.80 cm.  Two petals have now separated from the rest.
  • 9/29/15  Another measurement of the scape at 21 in. / 53.34 cm.  The base of the peduncle is remarkably large in diameter; it might be 1 in. / 2.54 cm. in circumference.

Golden Tiara
  • 9/16/15  It's unexpected.  A new scape is emerging!  I had thought that this plant was done for the year.

  • 9/22/15  This hosta does have two eyes.  When it scaped earlier this year I found it strange that only one came when last year it had two.  Alas the second scape is rising.  All is well again for this plant!
  • 9/29/15  The scape on this hosta is nearly at the top of the leaves. 

Holy Mouse Ears
  • 9/20/15  Is as open as it can be which would normally say there's a scape on the way up, but I'm not even seeing a leaf.  Seems odd.

Little Devil

  • 9/24/15  The scape seems to be overdue in coming.  It came last year‽

Little Sunspot
  • 9/17/15  It's yet another unexpected find.  Again I had thought that this plant was done for the year.  It has 3 new scapes arising.  My records show that this is a 'third wave' of scapes for this variety.  I am not going to adjust my database just yet for this, but the fact will be remembered.
  • 9/29/15  There were 3 scapes earlier but one seem to have faded without blooming.  The other two seem to be ok

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Closing Words 

I've dealt with late season Hosta addiction by the late acquisition of more Tortifrons; which will be here by the time you read this.  I've watched numerous hosta have a season flush of new leaves; some of which have confirmed that the plant is really planted correctly.  And the Empress Wu scape is nearing it's 24 in. / 60.96 cm. height which will begin to draw attention to itself as the scape continues to grow upwards.  Morning temperatures are now in the 40° to 50°F  / 4.44° to 10.00°C range.  October signals the end of the 2015 growing season.  I'll be adding new things to the check list of preparing for Winter.  And if things progress far enough ... … I might begin to discuss plans for a new 'presentation' of this blog (as my goal goes far beyond basic layout) in 2016.

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