So many duplicates.. A Rant

bkay2000April 26, 2012

I don't get it. There are so many duplicate looking hostas. Why do they keep registering the same hosta over and over again? I realize there are subtle differences in hosta that I can't see. I can see the difference in Paradigm, September Sun, and Guacamole. However, a friend was looking at them and couldn't tell the difference. They're just light green with a dark green edge to him. How many people would want both Minute Man and Patriot, if they could tell the difference? My Minute Man is young, so it may change, but it's very similar in color to Francee. I just bought Blue Cadet and it looks pretty much like Blue Mouse Ears, just a little pointier. I suppose I should have noticed that before I bought another, but I didn't. One was at home and one was at the nursery. I was just looking at Lakeside Old Smokey on the HL. It looks just like Queen of the Seas. How about Dream Queen and Thunderbolt?

Maybe I'm just cranky. I was at the nursery today and everything looked pretty much like something I already have, just with a different name. I realize this is heresy, but how many medium blue hosta with white edges can you tell from the other medium blue hostas with white edges?

I guess the question starting forming for me when Chris explained the differences between Minute Man and Patriot. If the differences are that subtle, is it really a sport? Is it really different enough to warrant a new name and a PPAF?

Yes, I am just cranky today. However, it doesn't make sense. How many hostaholics are there in the world that have to have one of everything? It seems to me like it would be a small market to sell to.


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Gesila(MI Z5)

And, there were 179 new registrations for 2011.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 10:42PM
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BKay, I've wondered too. Sometimes I guess it is more than the way it looks, it's also the way it grows and how it sports. Etc.

I mean, for years I've heard folks say with sound equipment, don't buy the expensive stuff if you cannot hear the difference. Possibly the same is true with hosta.

I have a LOT of plantaginea hosta progeny. Some are just alike except for....petioles height or color, edges flat or ruffled or piecrusted or serrated, or the substance goes from wimpy to rugged, the shine is super or matte. I figure as long as I can see the difference, then it is fine. My head spins sometimes with the different color middles and edges though. Like you, I decided enough of the plain narrow margins all cream--but I had to learn to call the halt myself when I realized I have a tendency to reach for that look in a hosta. Enough already. But it is soooo elegant with a heart shaped leaf!

I did not read Chris' comparison of Minuteman and Patriot. Wish I'd read it, because I have mine sitting side by side, and I was comparing them today. I tend to like the tetraploid sports because they are tougher, don't think Minuteman is a tet though. It does not seem to get the brown edge like Patriot does, in my garden at least.
But I'll look for the comparison by Chris and see what he says.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 10:58PM
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I, too, understand where you're coming from. But I disagree with some of the examples that you're giving. Blue Mouse Ears and Blue Cadet? To me, they're very different, and I appreciate their differences, and I'm glad that both exist. Paradigm, September Sun, and Guacamole? Sure, someone who doesn't like or know Hostas won't be able to tell the difference persay (though Guacamole isn't really like those other two). But that goes for many hobbies.

Show me two car engines, and I'll have no idea what the difference is. Heck, show me two similar roses, and I probably won't be able to discern the difference. But with hostas, I can see the differences, cause this is one of my hobbies.

Are there too many registrations? Yes. But I like that there are hostas that are similar but slightly dissimilar, in ways that I can appreciate. Most of these subtle differences will only appeal to hosta enthusiasts, and they'll never be mass marketed and they'll never end up in the average suburban garden. And I'm cool with that.

And just throwing this out there... but I'll bet that in 20 years you'll be seeing a LOT of new hybrid plants that are genetically engineered and tissue cultured. And there will be so many varieties of most ornamental plants, your head will spin.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Yes there are many that are very very similar. But until you actually grow some of them for a few years you may not notice the differences.
Blue Mouse Ears are thick, and roundish when mature, very UN-like Blue Cadet.

I just ordered Great Escape. I have El Nino, and Autumn Frost, and Blue Ivory. Blue Ivory gets that green misting on some leaves, and he will go IF Great Escape proves to have that wonderful wide white edge with no misting. I'll have to wait a couple years.

Yes, there are too many registrations. And some people register and patent their hostas while they are still exhibiting their juvenile traits. That's wrong in my book. They should be able to describe a "mature clump".

Hostas naturally sport, and that is the wonder of things.

So I keep buying and looking at all the new ones.

Bkay- There was a time when all of us could only see the green one, and the green and white one. Aren't you glad you are getting more discerning? Look out, it can get costly. Just ask Frank.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 12:15AM
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BKay, go out and kick dirt. It helps when you feel cranky. :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:04AM
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I found the picture, side by side,
Patriot left, Minuteman right. To me they look different. Maybe when Minuteman is mature, they will look alike. We'll see.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:19AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


If you are going to patent a Hosta it must be applied for within a year after having registered it with the AHS. That's the patent law. I actually think this causes people to not register those Hostas they are considering patenting.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 6:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I don't get it. There are so many duplicate looking hostas.

==>>> well ... at least it didnt take 1500 hosta for you to see the light.. like some idiot i know


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 6:49AM
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Take comfort. There are over 68,000 registered daylilies.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:27AM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Understand fully what you are saying. I think that's why they came up with the 10 foot rule. Probably a good list for most of use to check, although I don't believe it's been updated.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:01AM
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Of course there are a lot of hostas that look alike. So what? Don't buy anything that isn't great.

Worse yet, there are a lot of hostas that really aren't worth cluttering up your yard with even if they don't look like something else.

If you have a collector's mentality, you are just buying names, you aren't buying hostas.

I only buy hostas that really strike me as a welcome addition to the yard. Most of what I buy are duplicates and triplicates and quadruplicates because those are the ones I like. I'm not interested in a new name.

I don't have either Patriot or Minuteman, so that solves that problem.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:17AM
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I like look alikes that are different sizes such as Striptease and Gypsy Rose.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:02AM
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I agree there are so many that are nearly identical looking or so similar that space doesn't warrent their placement. However from a business point of view you see so many coming onto the market because the horticultural field knows that many people will buy the plant simply because they don't have it and older varieties fall out of favor. Remember though hostas are the most popular perennial in the US we who are hostaholics are a small percentage of buyers who have more than just a casual interest. The markup in the nursery trade is quite high. TC is very inexpensive in cost
per plant to produce. Return on investment happens relatively quickly now as most are sold and marketed worldwide as a new release. Even a minor difference in a plants look maybe a turn off to one but attractive to another. Its all about marketing and profit.

Case in point-Autumn Frost. To me the plant looks very much like Blue Ivory except the white portion in the leaf is yellow in the spring before fading to white. This trait alone made me consider purchasing the plant. Look at many of the ads/description for this plant. Very few if any state the yellow also fades to white. If I hadn't found that out I would have bought it. Disceptive advertising for a nearly identical plant to Blue Ivory????


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:46AM
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'And just throwing this out there... but I'll bet that in 20 years you'll be seeing a LOT of new hybrid plants that are genetically engineered and tissue cultured. And there will be so many varieties of most ornamental plants, your head will spin.'

That scares me. Then we can have Astilbe Virus X and Heuchera Virus Y and Clematis Virus Z.

And remembering the great organic farming OT discussion (Corn Gluten?) from last week, I suppose that if anyone wants to continue this, it should probably be a conversation.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:47AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I agree with you. I have about 50 different hostas. I think it has to be a hobby for people to buy every Hosta just because it has a different name. That is not me. If I cannot look at the Hosta and know the name without having a tag sticking up in my garden I do not buy.

I buy Hosta to create a look in my shade garden. I look for color, size and form. If I want a certain look if it fits that look I will order another one of what I have and like or divide one that is in the garden. I would not be one that would make the breeders rich. lol

Personally I think from what I have seen online and in person there are only about 100 that you can stand back and say that is different and 50 that have made me go WOW, "H-June is one of them" and 50 that make me say that is special the rest are just repeat of "WOW or Special". I do not need to buy a repeat because it has another name.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:49AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I totally agree with you,Bkay! Just how many green hostas with white margins do you want? I have both Patriot,and Minuteman,but I bought them a long time ago,before I knew a lot about hosta. To me they STILL look alike,and a couple of my Francees have such wide margins that they could pass for Patriot! I read in Diana Grenfells book,that a hosta has to be different in form to even be registered! Well,someone sure streches that definition! Can you tell the difference between all the big blue sieboldiana-type hostas? I cannot,yet people keep registering more of them! Sorry,the rest of you hostaphiles out there,but I have to agree with Bkay!! Phil

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:04AM
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Does this mean that those that do not like duplicates...

If you have a Sagae, you won't have a Liberty because they look alike and only have subtle differences? Slightly thicker leaves and a margin that is just a bit wider?

These slight differences are what is making each new one just a little better than the last. Without them there won't be any latest and greatest. Leaves just a little thicker, margins just a little wider, colors just a little more defined.

If we didn't have each gradual step we wouldn't have Liberty. We wouldn't have many. We would just have the green one and the green and white one.

When a non-hosta person tells you that all hosta look alike, you are offended. If you buy one of the absolute newest hosta that was just released and someone that is not into hosta tells you that they have that one, you know that they don't even though it might be similar in looks to what they do have, you know better, you know the differences and you can point them out.

I'll take ten that look alike one after the other if it means there are slight improvements between them and that the first and the last are considerably different which won't happen overnight.

Now if we could just get a fast growing version of Great Expectations. I don't think anyone would complain that they looked identical.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:30AM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

What would be interesting is if all very similar hosta were assigned or grouped by a number...

that way if a person wanted all noticeably different Hosta they could pick one from group 1, one from group 2 and so on..

I bet there could be some GREAT arguments over all that classification.

I suppose some people could even be mad or insulted if their TYPE was put into a large or COMMON group..

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Actually there is something similar to what you have proposed Leafwatcher. Hosta Lists by David Rawson. The lists catagorize hostas in many different ways including similarity. If your interested in getting it just google his name or title as the 2012 edition is now available.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:27PM
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The name is Don Rawson aka Don_R on here. He created the hosta Rhino Hide.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:35PM
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He has one that he showed us last year that he's not going to register that's 10X better than Rhino Hide. I can't remember the name, but it's Don's Pride or something like that.

Babka, you're right. Blue Cadet isn't anything like Blue Mouse Ears, at least in size. I saw a mature Blue Cadet at the Arboretum today. It's a fairly large plant. The hosta library says it's small, about 12 X 6. The one at the arboretum was at least 18" across.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 4:33PM
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donrawson(Z 5)

Hosta 'Pride and Joy' in June

Hosta 'Pride and Joy' in July

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

Hosta Lists by David Rawson. The lists catagorize hostas in many different ways including similarity.

I host Don's Hosta Lists on my website, and I'm in the middle of doing the 2012 updates. I'll do a posting to the list once the bulk of the work has been done and uploaded.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Cher, I checked the 10 foot list, and have a copy which I had to color so I could read it.

But it was done by Papou and someone else back in 2004, and has not updated since.

I'm not sure if it is one of Don_R's lists or not. But I'd like to see it updated too.

Also, where is an easy spot to check for the parentage of certain hosta? Like, which plants are the pod/pollen donor for plants with plantaginea heritage? Just a list and then the name of the cross or hybrid, whatever.

I've gone for some of the species plants. Those are all different, IMHO, although they may all be green. Color is not the only criteria for judging a hosta's appearance.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Bkay- My Blue Mouse Ears is almost 18" across and I cut it in half back in 2010. The leaves are very thick and almost round like a little mouse ear. My Zilis Handbook lists Blue Cadet as 15" high and 38" wide with heart shaped leaves of average substance. It was registered back in 1974, so when Zilis wrote his handbook in 2000, there were many more mature plants for him to see and measure then.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:10PM
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By the way, thank you both Pieter for all your help.

Don_R, I love that plant.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:20PM
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davej_07(z5 WI)

Several people hit it right on the head.....if you don't like them, don't buy them. If you find a sport of something you like better than the original plant, upgrade. I started out as a collector who, like so many, believed it was all about numbers. I need more, I need more! Eventually you find that quality does trump quantity.
Why do I need Sum and Substance when there are so many good sports of it, like Sum and Subtle or Final Summation? Why do I need Blue Angel when I have Angel Eyes and many other blues I like better?
My hosta Guru has very few registered hosta in his yard, mostly it's his own seedlings, plants he has received from other hybridizers, and sports he has found in his collecting.......and I would KILL for a collection such as he has!!
My collecting has become a drive to find cultivars that few people have in their yards, but that's me.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:04PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

Some people collect hostas by names. Some people register hostas though the library shows better ones.

Dave is right, after you bought 100 it is time to reset to quality. I would like to add, it is time to let the young ones grow up to their mature appearance so you know what you actually got.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:26AM
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I think you're right Bernd.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:42AM
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flowerchild59(z6b IL)

I find that collecting by name (themes) narrows down what I want to buy. I look for those with cool names, different qualities and size that I need for the spot I have.
I agree there are too many of the same old thing. I like how zillis did his original book and specifies one of the best of that color or combination and what are "similar" types. Then you can research which ones you want.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:46AM
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nucci60(6 Ma.)

bkay,I have been thinking the same thing all along,but was afraid of being attacked on the forum. The members handled it well.LOL I have about 80 and unless they come out with some red or orange ones, I will basically be duplicating what I have. Good luck to those folks that want them all. It is a free country.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:30AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I was just out on my garden,on this peaceful morning,when we had no storms,and no high wind the day before. I looked up at my Clifford's Polar Moon,and then down near the path,at my Paradigm,and I realized that they look so much alike,that they could be the same plant with a different name! Also,in my book of Diana Grenfells,there is a pic of Brother Stefan,and guess what? It looks like the other two I just mentioned! My local nursery has Brother Stefan,and I may look at it,but if it looks like Paradigm,or Polar Moon,it will probably not find its way into my garden. Phil

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:39AM
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This is going to sound sorta goofey - but I suspect ya'all expect this of me by now.

I have Paul's Glory and Old Glory planted side by side. I did this for a reason. They remind me of my twin daughters Leslie & Lorrie. Often during their growing up years it was hard to tell which was which by appearance if they weren't side by side. When L&L came home from the hospital after being born I thought of tatooing something between their toes. Then I thought, what difference would it make when they grew older. We could have mixed them up at some point. But as long as they know what name to respond to (and which is married to Gary and which to Billy) no harm is done.

I know Paul's Glory and Old Glory are not identical, but they are so close in appearance and habit if they were apart I could switch names and few would know the difference.

This doesn't answer any questions. When Old Glory was young I bought it because it seemed to have deeper and more conspicuous ribbing than PG, which reminded me of the stripes in the "Old Glory" flag.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Les, I liked your last post a lot. I mix up my plants, don't care and love them all.

People in zone 5 say y'all?


    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 4:26PM
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Christine, TV seems to have wiped out regional speech differences--except when my DH uses his Boston vocabulary. I don't hear my own accent, but I'm told it's there. And we manage to understand one another.

I thank you, Pieter, for doing the job with the Hosta Lists, especially the 10 foot list. Which the old one has the similar ones listed together with a slash:
Patriot/Minuteman but a lot has changed since 2004 when Papou did the old list.

Actually, I go through most of Don_r's lists at, on a regular basis, learning as I go.

I think it was Steve who quoted the bio of Frances Williams, her having graduated from MIT in 2004. I told my DH that, and he was most impressed. In those days especially women had to be really strong willed and strong minded to attend MIT, even today it is a prestigious accomplishment. She was a great lady and plantsman.Just wish the hosta named for her performed a bit better.

On another note, I like the tetraploids, and the duploids. It seems to me they are tougher, more resistant to insect damage, and sometimes a much better plant than the original.
Having a list of those was a big help.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 6:11PM
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Link below has a download listed for comparing 2 different Hosta Library plants side by side......I've used this for many years and can be very helpful.


Here is a link that might be useful: HL Pic Compare - Thanks for hosting, Pieter

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 7:34PM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

2 years ago I planted Paradigm, Paul's Glory and Gold Standard in the same row. In spring they looked the same, Paradigm was a poor grower. When mature they probably will differ in June, right now only Gold Standard is mature. It is so important to wait to have mature plants, or at least wait until the plants show their full leaves this year, some of mine are not even up yet. Mine just had endured a freeze, bad time to buy new ones when you can not see what you got.
My rant!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 7:46PM
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