Rest, Renew, Regrow | Hosta Growth Stages After Planting

Author: Peter Kelly, Content Manager

Rest, Renew, Regrow

Those are are three “R”s of horticulture.  They apply to hostas just as they do to any other plant. The three “R”s help us understand the hosta growth stages.  With those words I will answer one of our consumer’s questions: Why are my hostas NOT growing?

Before getting to those three “R”s, the gardener needs to understand that EVERY TIME they move a Hosta it goes into what is known as; “transplant shock”. Then it will go through different hosta growth stages as it adapts to its new surroundings.  

It is a thousand times better to find that right place for the hosta, plant it, and care for it as you wait for it to grow vigorously!

OK, so you have your new hosta or heuchera planted and you’re excited for it to mature; but the plant just sits there.  We assure you that only in film can a plant go ‘sproing’ and suddenly become full sized.   The thing with gardening is that you have to be patient.  How patient?  Rest, Renew, Regrow!

Hosta Growth Stages Using the 3 “R”s

The first stage after you plant something it will … Rest.  Resting means acclimating itself to where it is planted, getting used to the new spot of sun; trying to figure out what nutrients are below it.  If you plant it late in the season it might rest through the second year as well.

The second stage will … Renew.  Renewing means the plant might grow even a little smaller or to the size of what you first planted it.  Fear not brave gardener for the plant is not being lazy on you!  Be it known your plant is growing UNDER the ground and sending out rhizomes and gathering those important nutrients.  Again, depending on the variety, it might carry its renewing into a second year. This is all just part of the hosta growth stages.

We get to the third stage … when the plant Regrows.  This is that hosta growth stage where we may see leaps and bounds of growth.  This is also the time where you might see your first scape and blossom on your plant.  With each year after, the plant will keep moving toward maturity.  Some hostas mature in three (3) years and others take 6 to 8 years primarily due to size and general rate of growth.

Even after that, the plant will continue to look good for years to come if cared for properly.  Over these years, if the gardener is nice they may put in some extra fertilizer to help and encourage the plants to grow.  Remember over-fertilizing can have hazards as well, so fertilize responsibility.

Now lets all take a deep breath and reflectively say, “Rest, Renew, Regrow.”;  and remember to fully exhale.…

Hosta Changes | Why is My Hosta Changing?

The following hosta changes are natural (with the exception of the last one), and should not be things you panic, or become concerned about.  In some cases you might have something very exciting happening!

Hosta can have five (5) natural forms of transformation.  Each transformation is independent to the other.  Each of these hosta changes occur under its own set of conditions.  These transformations are: Aging, Growth Rate, Reversion, Sporting, and Radiation.

Aging

Some hosta have immature forms and later develop into its mature forms as the plant age; and some have early season forms opposed to late season forms.  As personal experience.  I am currently observing Hosta ‘X-Ray’.  In this case the plant came up as a curly grouping of chaotic leaves.  One might say it kinda looked like a rats nest.  It looked no where close to what the plant was supposed to as far as I could research or find.  

Over this summer (2014) the leaves are very slowly straightening up, flattening out, correcting their coloration, and evening out their transpiration rate (the water flow process from roots to leaves to ‘exhaling’ the water) to cause the leaves to become the correct texture and shape.

For me this is a plant I will watch for the next few seasons to see if this is a normal cycle of growth towards maturity or if is growth that is strictly found in immature plantings of X-Ray.  In either case this plant is exhibiting characteristics that change as the plant ages.

Growth Rate

Some hosta changes will exhibit a coloration change IF the plant has grown too compactly.  Montana ‘aureomarginata’ is one such example where the leaves can become solid green if it is not divided regularly.  In these cases if the offending division is separated it will, in many cases, return to its correct coloration.

Reversion

Reversions can be exciting in that you get an extra hosta type as a bonus!  As far as I am aware reversion is a natural process which will just happen from time to time.  All parts of the plant are perfectly healthy,  It is a condition where the plant itself is ‘rewriting’ its own genome one division at a time to return it to the existence of one of its parentages.

The hosta will pass the coding from one division to the next until the entire round has changed back.  It can be slowed, and in some ways stopped from advancing.

To do this the hosta in question needs to be fully divided: reversion segment(s) in one round and the unaffected divisions in another.  These rounds probably ought to be replanted some distance from each other.

Sporting

Where hosta can revert back to one of it’s parents; hosta can also decide to go rebel!  These are the times hosta growers get VERY excited.  These are not to be confused with new hybrids which come from cross pollination between two hostas and germinated from seed.  A ‘Sport’ is when a division of hosta decides to be something different. It actually becomes a new variety on its own.

Growers like to separate these, keep them ‘hidden’, and watch them grow for about 8 years to see just how stable these new genetic arrangements are, and also to see exactly what these sports will turn out to really look like.  One of the MOST prolific hosta for sporting is Sum and Substance with close to 40 sports, and hybrids to its credit. Sports of Sum and Substance.

Before you get too excited about a possible Sport in your garden do your homework to see if it has occurred previously.  Make sure that what you have is truly UNIQUE and one of a kind.  Work with someone you can trust, and knows about Hosta to guide you to document your plant correctly – and accurately.  

When all the work is done you will either have a well documented hosta and/or evidence you can carry with you to the American Hosta Society (they maintain the global registry) to register a new species.  

You might also want consider petitioning for a Plant Patent in your respective country for the same plant if you plan to distributing the plant on the retail market.

Radiated Plants

Ninety nine and nine hundred ninety nine thousandths (99.999%) percent of our readers will never do or see this process with a hosta.

Hosta can be altered by some wavelengths of radiation.  It has to be done under controlled conditions and with very specialized equipment.  The most famous of these hosta is Embroidery.  This hosta is famous not only because it is a radiated variety, but also because the effects of the radiation caused it be the FIRST ruffled edge hosta.  

For many many years this variety was sold at a price well over $1000. per division (and no that is not a typo!).

This blog edition is about the most common changes that Hosta might exhibit.  This does not include virus or other disease conditions, so if your hosta is changing in a way that isn’t covered in this blog, you may want to investigate disease as a possible cause.

Author: Peter Kelley, Content Manager

Yellow Hostas in the Garden

The Color of Yellow Hostas

Many of us playing with hosta might focus on the greens, blues, and even the presence of whites of the genus Hosta, but this week I wanted you to think about the yellow hostas (some times referred to as gold) that can be found in hosta varieties.  

I think it is safe to say that for every green you can see in hosta there might be another yellow hosta somewhere else.  Yellow can be found intermingling with other colors within hosta such like  ‘Vulcan’ when it reaches its mature state.  Yellow hostas can serve as focal points, or transitions, or accents within the garden arrangement.  

If you want to explore yellow to its extreme one could do an entire garden on a yellow theme; be it just hosta or a range of companion plants with yellows.

Our newsletter this week gives you a chance to consider a few types of yellow hostas for your garden, ‘Curly Fries’, ‘Daybreak’, ‘Island Breeze’, ‘Key West’, ‘Maui Buttercups’, and ‘Prairie Moon’ (pictured above).  

Remember that some varieties of hosta change their color over the season.  What might come up yellow may change to something else as the season progresses; the reverse can also be true.  Go for the gold – choose a yellow to add to your garden!

More information on yellow hostas can be found one our website here.

Author: Peter Kelley, Content Manager