Garden lore: Friday 26 December, 2014

Growing hostas from seed
Swathes of hostas can look effective in the shade garden but are expensive if you are buying a large number of plants from a garden centre. Raising them from seed is not difficult and most varieties will set seed, so keep an eye open as summer progresses. Hostas do not grow true from seed and even if you start with a variegated one, the vast majority of seedlings will have solid coloured leaves because they will revert to their originating plain variety. The multi-coloured and quirky hostas are all sports from plain ones. Seedlings will also vary from each other even if the seed is all from the same plant. If you want the uniformity of identical plants, you will have to either buy them or divide existing plants and be patient while they establish. We like the seedling variation which adds subtle detail and interest.

When selecting seed, choose plants with desirable characteristics, including some resistant to slug and snail damage. The finer and thinner the leaf, the more likely it is to be eaten.
Thicker, tougher leaves are clearly not as delicious. Wait until the seed has ripened and then pick it and sow it in pots or trays. While you will sometimes find that plants seed down in the garden, it is hit and miss whereas raised in a tray, you should get the majority to germinate and grow. If you bulk up with seedlings, you can then go and buy some truly spectacular ones to feature amongst their more modest cousins.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.