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30.10.09

How To Collect Hosta Seeds

Gardeners who grow hostas usually grow them for the foliage and because they lighten up shady gardens, but these perennial garden plants have just as impressive star-shaped flowers. The first hosta was introduced in my garden by way of seeds I swapped with another gardener online. In the fall I dug a small hole in the soil and placed the seeds, covering them with an inch or two of soil...the next spring I had hosta leafs!

I now have a couple of different hostas, all grown from seeds I collected once I learned how easy it was to gather and sow the seeds.

Unopened hosta blooms, how to collect hosta seedsHosta flower stalk: How to Collect Hosta Seeds.

Hosta foliage is nice, but I think I enjoy the hosta flower stalk the most. Before the blooms unfurl on the scape they remind me of Q-tips.

How to Save Hosta Seeds

 


Single hosta flower, how to collect hosta bloomsAn open hosta flower calling bees to visit and pollinate it.

green hosta seed pods, how to collect hosta seedsWhen the flowers have been pollinated the seed pods looks like green sausages hung out to cure.

ripe hosta seed pods, how to collect hosta seedsWhen the seeds pods are ripe they turn brown and start to split length wise. These seeds pods are far along and one seed pod is ready to release the seeds. If you notice your hosta seed pods are starting to split open while they are still green-you can go ahead and collect them then. Even when the seed pods are open most of the seeds will remain attached.

hosta seed pod and hosta seeds, how to collect hosta seedsIf the seed hosta seed pod is still closed, you can split it open with a finger nail and remove the hosta seeds which are black and papery. Gardeners who don't have time to check on the progress of seed pods every day can cut the flower stalk when it looks like the pods are ripening and place it in a vase of water to finish ripening indoors. I've also cut the flower stalk and placed it in a paper bag and let the pods open and release the seeds as they dry

Here's a video from my garden that shows a couple of bees pollinating the hosta flowers.



The hilarious comment by Garden Faerie below reminded me that one day while walking my foster brother to school, I stopped to collect some hosta seeds that were hanging out of a fence and over a sidewalk. I was bent over gathering the pods when he started screaming; "They're coming! Run, MrBrownThumb, RUUUUUN!!!!" When I looked up he was half a block away, his backpack bouncing like mad. It turned out he saw someone coming out of the house and he was sure we would be arrested for taking the seeds.

24 comments:

  1. Good information, Mr BT! These are really cool looking seed pods!!!

    Have a wonderful Halloween Day!!!
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG I NEVER knew hosta's had seeds! I will be on the "prowl" next season for some new specimens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Most of the time I cut the flower stalk before seeds are produced but not always. I've gotten seeds before, but never collected them. I just figured they were the type that wouldn't germinate easily or wouldn't produce a plant of any size in several years. Silly me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You do such a great job with tutorial posts MBT. I've never started hostas from seeds, but you've shown how easy it really is.

    I love hosta blooms. Until moving here I'd never seen hummingbirds enjoying their nectar, but in this garden a few varieties are hummingbird favorites in late summer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've never started hostas from seeds, either... in fact, every single hosta in my garden was given to me as a division. (Which reminds me of something Felder Rushing (who is a hoot and a half) once said, “Anybody who doesn’t have a hosta doesn’t have any friends.”) Still, it's a great option starting from seed, too. And stealing seed is so much more polite than dividing strangers' plants--HA!!!! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous3:43 PM

      i know, right!!!?

      Delete
  6. Great information, MBT. I always cut the scapes once they start looking ratty and never have let them go to seed. I'll have to amend my ways next year and save some seeds.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Julie,

    The hosta seed pods are one of my faves because they look so weird.

    @Debbie's Garden,

    I was suppose to post this post about two weeks back so it is really late, but while looking around the neighborhood I see that many hostas still have some seed pods attached. Look around and you may get lucky.

    @Kylee,

    I think mine took about two years to be fully mature plants, but like you I thought they'd be among those 3-4 year perennials I'd have to wait to grow and flower.

    @garden girl,

    Thanks. I didn't know that hummingbirds visited them but it makes sense since the blooms are a perfect shape for hummingbirds. You reminded me I had a video from this summer of some bees pollinating the blooms and I added it to this post.

    @Monica,

    You are hilarious! You reminded me of this one time when I was walking my foster brother to school and I was taking some hosta seeds and hilarity ensued.

    @walk2write,
    I hope you do, nothing better than adding to the garden "free" plants. If you're like me and you're not a hosta fanatic who cares about cultivars growing them from seed is a good option.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Home Depot is selling flowering dwarf hostas here in Miami. That must be a first. I guess the idea is to treat them as annuals -- or instant snail food.

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  9. Alas, we are Hosta challenged. It is too hot here for hosta to be comfortable. But I would like to see those seeds sometimes. Maybe when we go to Dallas- no that won't work, we are going in April.

    Drat!

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Penny,

    I'm so jealous. I've seen some minis here in Chicago in a boutique garden center that were really awesome. What wasn't awesome was the price, I'd love for my HD to carry some.

    @Janie,

    Hope someone comes along with a hosta that can tolerate heat. Because that line posted by Monica above is almost 100% true.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Like most other commenters, I usually cut back the straggly stalk when it's finished blooming. I have so many hosta around my yard, all because of my thrifty shovel! They are SO EASY to divide. Even the smallest piece, if it has a root on it, will grow. I'm curious about the seeds though, so am going to make a point of trying that out next year.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Re: a comment you left at Garden Girl: 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names is a favorite book of mine. So interesting, and short, easy chapters! (I find my eyes don't like me reading too long any more!)

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Jan,

    I hope you did give it a try.

    @Monica,

    It is one of my fave too and agree about the chapters 100%! Perfect length for reading a bit before going to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I never let things get that far along... I usually trim the stems. However, this was very interesting and I appreciate the information! You gave me a chuckle with your last story. I often feel the same way... are we NOT supposed to harvest seeds when we're "out and about?" i.e., public gardens, etc. ?

    ReplyDelete
  15. magan6:58 PM

    Yipee! I never thought about growing Hosta from seed (also cut mine after they flower). After reading Mr.BT article I went for a walk and found many Hosta seeds in near-by park. It would be some variety for sure. Will be growing those babies, even though I don't have an idea how their mommas look like. To those who also collected seads this year, I would highly suggest that they research on Winter sowing Hostas and they can have little ones in Spring already. I will be doing my first Winter sowing with all kinds of seeds this year. Thanks for heads up on seeds, they are still some to be found in Ontario.
    Good luck.

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  16. I started some hostas from seed in the spring. They have grown incredibly slowly and are only about 5cm tall. I think I'd rather divide but then there's no way to find new and interesting hybrids...

    ReplyDelete
  17. So am I the only one disturbed by the fact that your foster brother called you Mr. Brown Thumb? Just sayin'...

    Lisa C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:02 AM

      Why would you be disturbed?

      Delete
  18. @Shady gardener,

    I know, right? Without proper care some of these seeds would never grow into full sized plants. Take all the seeds you can find is my philosophy.

    @Magan,

    Good luck with your seeds. Glad you were able to find some in your area to experiment with.

    @Aerelonian,

    You're right that asexual reproduction is the easiest way to get full-grown plants, quickly. But nothing beats finding those seeds and seeing what you may get.

    @Lisa,

    Considering this post was on the front page of the blog for over a month and you're the only one who mentioned that, the answer is probably-yes.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  19. For crying out loud! I was taught by the gardeners in my family to cut the flower stems down as they begin to wilt, supposedly strengthening the root system---important for those of us who only know *correction: knew* of propagation by division.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I saw one of your posters here mentioned that it was too hot in TX for a hosta to be comfortable. Is this true? I live in Corpus Christi and I want to give hostas a try down here. I have a nice partly sunny area (or too much shade for other things) in my front area here at my apt, and I thought that I'd give them a try in those spots using amended soil. Do you think it would work, or are temps over 90 degrees too much. I ask because I remember more than one summer back home in the midwest where the temps were quite similar. The humidity is high here too. Do you think I might have a chance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blondmyk,

      It depends on what part of Texas you are in. I asked a couple of Texas gardeners what they thought about growing hostas in the state. One gardener http://annieinaustin.blogspot.com said it was too hot. One said (if I'm remembering correctly) that in Fort Worth people grew them. I would say look around your neighborhood and city. If you don't see hostas growing then chances are that it is too hot and like one Texas gardener said to me, "they're treated like expensive annuals here." Humidity shouldn't be a problem, it gets humid in Chicago and my hostas do just fine.

      Delete
    2. One thing omitted from this seems to be that hosta from seed DOES NOT GROW true to the parent hosta; in short each and every hosta grown by seed is a new variety (REALLY).

      While not doubting the author, this is the first article that I have read that suggests that hosta is easy to grow directly from seed to ground. As I am trying to grow hosta seed this winter (2014) I may experiment and do some with control propagation and another set directly from seed to ground.

      Peter Kelley
      St. Paul, MN USA

      Delete

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