'Lowered Expectations'

don_in_coloradoApril 1, 2013

My neighbor divided one of his clumps of 'Great Expectations', and he gave me this piece. Since it is such a small piece, and especially since it is a GE, I was wondering if you folks with experience with GE think maybe it's a good idea if I start it off in a pot, until it gets some improved root growth on it? Normally I wouldn't really be too worried about it, but considering what variety it is and possible potential (Believe it or not, this little thing has SEVEN eyes) maybe I should coddle it for a few months. What do you think?

Don B.

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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It might be OK in the ground. But I'd put it in a pot close to a water source. That root system is small and you want to baby this plant until it grows roots that can support the plant. Give it a year in a pot and then plant it in the fall.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 7:17PM
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bernd ny zone5

I personally would start it in a pot until July / August and then put it into the ground. I have good growing GEs. Here is good advice about growing GEs by forum member dhaven :

May 31, 2011
"Some varieties are very picky about growing conditions, and unless they are planted in optimum conditions, they will either remain small, or fade away and die. The best example of this I know of is Great Expectations, which also happens to be my favorite hosta. A great many people have lost this one, sometimes more than once. I have three very large mature plants, and they are the prettiest thing in the garden. It took some experimentation, but there are three things that GE absolutely must have to thrive. First, and most importantly, plant it shallowly. It's going to be a very large plant, so the natural inclination is to plant it deeply, but this will kill it faster than anything else. Plant it so shallowly you are convinced that it will tip over, and you've got it right. Secondly, it likes a lot of light. Dappled shade is ideal, but it will take several hours of direct sun, either morning or afternoon. Third, it likes a lot of water. If you give a GE all three of these things, you will increase your chances of growing it into an absolutely stunning plant.
If you want to try any of the hostas that have the reputation of being difficult, be prepared to try different locations and growing methods, and possibly go through several plants before you discover what works for that variety in your location. When you do find out what works, please share the information with the rest of us!"

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 7:27PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Don, I just came across a product that I'm going to investigate for use on my slow growing hostas. It's called CONFIGURE. The link below is to an article written by a guy who uses it on Echinicea. It's a growth stimulant. Bentley Gardens uses it to produce more eyes on hostas.

Perhaps someone else would chime in about whether it would be useful in your situation.

Here is a link that might be useful: growth stimulant for hostas

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Thank you, irawon. I'll certainly read up on it.

Don B.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:41PM
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The grower at Hilltop Farms told me that the secret to getting GE to get big was to put it in a pot that crowded it. Never tried it myself tho. I guess that is what he did because his were huge.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Sandy, thank you for the tip. By coincidence, I did just that. :)

Don B.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:32PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

My secrets for Great X is ignorance! If you just buy them, and don't know any better you are golden ! I think they can smell fear on a gardener !

In all seriousness. I sure hope mine come back.. and they are a little bigger ! I would love to see an eye count jump...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:39PM
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I was talking to my neighbor who gave me this plant, and as I thought, he cut the roots way back on this division. I asked him why and his answer was, 'It stimulates the roots to grow more', WHAT?? Well OK sure, why wouldn't it? Most things try to repair themselves IF YOU'VE INJURED THE ORGANISM....That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! He's a very nice guy, don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative of his generosity, but IMO he's absolutely wrong to do this, unless there's evidence of root rot or something like that.(I understand that simply dividing a clump is causing it trauma to a certain extent, but obviously there is a valid POINT to dividing clumps...cutting off good healthy roots...??????)

Any more experienced opinions on this? I've seen people on the internet do this as well after they divide a clump. Makes me cringe. Am I wrong? If so, please let me know...I'm happy to be wrong, especially if there's something to be learned from it...Thank you...

Don B.

This post was edited by Don_in_Colorado on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 16:22

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 4:18PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Cutting back the root system is just dumb. You are correct.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Ludi _PA_7a

Butchery !!!

I have heard Ken indicate in the past you can get away with a few scrapes against the proverbial driveway to stimulate the 'death' hormone, but straight-up removal does nothing but hinder the plant.


EDIT: I forgot to say Don, I love the title of this post. Cracks me up. :p

This post was edited by Ludisia on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 20:49

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Sort of reminds me of my friend who is a great cook, and if someone wants her recipe, she sort of gives it, but watch out, it is altered so only SHE CAN COOK IT RIGHT. (I found out the hard way.) And it sounds like this neighbor may be taking out insurance that you won't be growing GE as well as he does.

But I predict that the your little amputee will have the best revenge, when it grows into a magnificent beautiful plant by early August. Be sure to talk to him, I believe it helps.

And on another note here, I counted the eyes of my Sagae today. I bought two from Naylor last year, they delivered a single eye version, and a pair of eyes. I put all three in the same big pot, in a triangle. Now, I see that one has about SEVEN EYES, one has two eyes, and the other has three. They were up early and got some cold damage on a few of the larger leaves, but does not seem to have slowed them down. I am so very happy with the Sagae.

I'm hoping that most have increased in eye number, and not diminished in vigor or size, which I did not realize was a possible side effect of living in the warmer regions.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:01PM
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LOL thanks Ludi. Butchery, indeed! I'm happy to say it's taking off just fine in the teeny-tiny little pot I put it in. However, I'll still keep my 'Expectations' in check. :)

Don B.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Hi Mocc...that is a very interesting thought. I'll show him, though. He can come over and admire it when I permanently site it in my backyard in August/September. :)

I'm happy your 'Sagae' is starting off so well. My 'Liberty' was a single-eyed plant last year. I see 2 eyes right now. I'll take it! Positive growth is always a plus! Everything here is pipping out nicely so far, with the plant-friendly weather we've been having.

Don B.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Yikes! was what I said when I was potting up hostas from a grower into bigger pots at work, and I unpotted Frances Williams liners, to find that big beautiful eyes had 2" roots where some numbskull had cut them off. Must have been a new employee that didn't know what he was doing. Out of 38 varieties, that was the only one that was abused like that. I'll be keeping an eye on them to see how they do, but for sure that set them back a long ways.

Makes me want to tip a pot out before I buy it at a nursery to see what has happened to the roots. When I first started working in the spring, potting up plants, a few years ago, I caught the nursery owner trimming hosta roots to make them fit in a pot. She doesn't do that any more. Haha in fact I won't let her touch the hostas!


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:58PM
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