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Friday, April 21, 2006

Hostas

What a great turn out for our meeting last Wednesday! If you missed it, Kevin Rawlings of Rawlings Farm & Gardens in Ellisburg was there to speak about hostas. He will be at the Regional Market in Syracuse on Saturday mornings this spring and at the farm for an open house in July. He has over 300 cultivars available. Stop by the Regional Market and say hello or give him a call if you would like to visit the farm. (Please call before just heading out as he doesn’t live there. E-mail me if you need his number.)

Remember Me
Photo by Palmer W. Cook, Salisbury, NC

Hostas are native to Asia and were discovered by westerners about 1830. At this time the Dutch East India Co was exploring China for medicinal plants and brought some back to Europe and from there they were introduced to the US. They are native to China, Korea and Japan.

There are between 12 and 50 species with 6,000 cultivars of which 4,000 are registered and 2,000 commercially available. They are the #1 selling perennial. The most common cultivar is Montana.

I was surprised to learn that hostas are not shade plants but rather some cultivars are shade tolerant. Most hostas do best if they get 40% sun, preferably morning sun. Some do best in full sun. Variegated cultivars some times revert to solid green. Propagation by tissue culture has made many new cultivars quickly and readily available to the public at affordable prices.

They require at least six weeks of dormancy below 40 degrees which is why you never see them in hotter climes. Each flower is only open for one day. There are no red hostas contrary to some ads; however there are some with red petioles (stems).

Hostas should be watered all season. The easiest time to divide them is early spring however that could set them back a year or more! The best time to divide them is the second half of July – first part of August, just after the flower sets its seeds. This is also the time to move them even if you are not dividing them.

Check out Hosta Library for more information and pictures. Some of the plants that Mr. Rawlings brought to the meeting were, Halcyon, June, First Frost, Spilt Milk, Korean Snow, Strip Tease and Rip Tide.

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