Winter's losses

josephines123 z5 ON CanadaMay 11, 2014

Dream Queen was not my only loss this year.

I also lost the following:
Rainforest Sunrise --- 2013, bagged hosta that did well last year
Liberty ----2012, bagged that survived one winter, died the next
Ripple Effect ---- 2012, rotted
Spilt Milk ---- 2013, a beauty, rotted)
Plantaginea - 3 smaller ones, rotted --- have 3 more planted doing great!
Olive Bailey Langdon ---- 2013, rotted

Not accounted for yet:
Barbara Ann
Maui Buttercups

Big Daddy
Made You Look - new 2013
Cameo - mini
Cherish - mini
Mister Watson - new 2013

Not much mystery surrounding the losses. The fatalities, M.I.A.s and strugglers all have one thing in common - they were potted in the fall. In addition, these losses may have been expedited by the use of Moisture Retaining potting media, as in Miracle Grow (the blue bag). I sent someone to the store, they came back saying this was the only potting soil I used it. One bag. I'm putting two and two together here. :-(

I'm not used to losing hostas so this is rather difficult in view of the fact that I am experimenting with potted hostas this year. The losses could quite possibly have been avoided.

On the bright side...The rest of them are doing so well! At the end I ran out of media and grabbed a few scoops of gravel laden earth - those pips are as big and healthy as the rest! Lol no surprise there!

My wish list ... won't get that much action since I plan to replace what I lost first. I'll take my time but I need to replace Spilt Milk ASAP. I was so looking forward to its pips this year.

Replacements so far:

Dream Queen - three of them :-)

I have to show you how this delphinium survived the winter - I totally forgot about it when the first snowfall came - and stayed! That's what I found buried, as is, under all that snow when I rescued the hostas. One tough root mass, wouldn't you say? So you think those hostas I lost were wimps? Lol


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My Paul's Glory is struggling, too. But after the rains the other day, he seems to be perking up some? Albomarginata looks pretty bad because of cold damage but she is full and healthy other than that.
I ended up losing PUD and F. Hyciantha. If Wheee and Albomarginata had not made it, I would have thrown in the towel. I had a devastating Spring realization this year for sure, too.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:16AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I have learned over time that I shouldn't order hostas for pots in Fall. Get what you want in Spring or early summer for pots so the roots have a chance to grow out and fill more of the the media.

Save the rest of that Wish List for Winter orders. (discounts and free delivery) I never thought that would apply to someone way up north, like you, where things freeze, but who knows?

We all are basing everything on our own experiences. ...and I realize that I am out here in left field, on the Left Coast, with growing conditions that are unlike other hosta growers I've found, but wet roots going into dormancy are not a good thing. Hostas in the ground are totally different. Tree roots pick up the additional moisture after the tops of the hostas freeze.

Just a hypothesis.

I SO lamented after my first losses back in 2005 Some are stronger than others and sometimes you just get a weak plant. That is one reason why this forum is so super...other people can show you the same hosta grown elsewhere and it is going gangbusters. If you really like a hosta give it at least 3 tries. (or more as I am with GE)


Call it all a "learning experience". PUKE. I know.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:24AM
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Yes Babka, I realize this now. But I lost even some that were established and I had had a couple of years. :( I have decided, for the future, to invest in one of the storage sheds on property to keep my hosta in during winters. That way, I know for sure that no ice or snow or rain rots them.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:48AM
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santamiller(8b TX)

Is the rotting usually due to snow/rain causing the media to get wet and the daily cold temps making it impossible for the media to dry out for extended periods?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:10AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I know this makes no sense, but It seems the rain isn't a problem until they start to come up. I've kept hosta in pots for many years. My worst losses were from moisture control potting soil when they got wet and wouldn't dry out, 2012-2013 when we had a warm January, hosta started coming up in February, then it got cold later and nothing would dry, and this year. This year, it was too dry and I lost a ton.

Maybe next year will be better.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:49AM
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My real starting point was in 2012, when things started in February. I was going like a madwoman all the time and could not stop to smell the roses, so to speak. It was fall before I could look at the pips and sweet eyes poking up, and not worry over their health, that I saw how truly beautiful it all was at that time....and I missed noticing. It isn't happening again, I promise you that. Even with 500 out there now, I've learned my lesson. The cheap potting mix that was easy to get up the road, it is all out of there. The bad draining pots with the DEEP saucers built on, they are gone. Something besides hosta might flourish in them, but not in my garden.

I had pots tipped over this spring that died because squirrels dumped them out, just dry crowns and wispy dried roots left, especially the miniatures. Then some had a musty smell when I dumped the pot and crumbled away the wet mix, and I was glad I had not waited another day to make them safe. Keeping them cool AND dry for the winter is a challenge. Keeping them suitably cool and nourished during the growing season, with adequate water to compensate for their sweating it away, that is another challenge.

In those poorly draining pots, I lost 2 Aphrodite, about 3 or 4 plantaginea (not MAMA, thank heaven), Royal Flush, and several more I have already put out of my mind...except for the lessons learned.

I know the climate is extreme for hosta. I know there are bound to be losses. I do not want the losses to come from my ignorance and lack of awareness, so I do the best I can to out think the weather. I believe drainage is first priority. Good air circulation is another priority. They need shade, but also the right kind of sunlight, and that is harder to provide, without turning them all green or burning them to a crisp. I have multiples of several favorites, so I can experiment with the light exposure, see what happens...but I am also chicken when a plant is apparently suffering and I move it out of harm's way.

It may be "survival of the fittest" and there is only so much space here if they all survive and thrive. So I may be letting go of the least productive, least attractive, not killing them but spreading the gospel of hosta to interested gardeners who are willing to believe hosta CAN INDEED grow in Mobile Alabama. They might appreciate a nice hosta in a pot, ready to go in the ground and impress their neighbors. I'd sell it to them, for a nice price. :) But that is down the road a long way.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

I had a lot of losses too from ones I had in pots, some had been in the same pot for three or more years.

100% of the pots that I left in the garden and tipped over on their sides survived. The losses came from the ones under the deck. We didn't lose a single one last year were under the deck. I think the losses this year were the result of four feet of snow melting and dripping into the pots.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:10PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

My potted Hosta paid the price as well, I had a nice shaded rain and snow proof set of shelves where they kept cold.... Well I think the brutal cold was just too much...almost all of my three year planted Hydrangia were killed back to the ground as well...

I lost a few really well established common Hosta, and a few fancy ones that would have been nice sized this year.... what a bummer

on the other hand I planted some tiny streaked seedlings I got from Trudy, and nearly every one of those made it...

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:49PM
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I lost 6 or 7 in pots and a few it the ground had roots chewed by voles. Some of these in the ground came back tiny and some never came back. Worst loss ever. Too cold.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:58PM
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I lost two new ones from last year- First Frost, in a pot, to crown rot, and Dick Ward, who just never came up (in ground) this spring. Pretty disappointed in both, but the others bought at same nursery, same time/size are all thriving.
I also have issues with Orange Marmalade fading away within 3 yrs. On my third new one this spring, new area in yard, so hope it will be happier there.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:29PM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

I lost Olive Bailey Langdon and my Lakeside Shoremaster. Two of my most beautiful hostas! They were both potted too. All the hostas in the ground survived. I will be ordering more of those two!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:48PM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Brandy, you have had substantial losses it's true. I've only lost a few out of about 100 so I shouldn't be crying in my milk!

Babka, Your hypothesis resonates ... I won't make the same mistake again and PUKE! says it all! Lol. I do appreciate the sympathy and the cheer at the same time.

Santa and Bkay - yes, and yes - newly potted, probably too much media which was soaked, and as Bkay's, some of the losses had moisture retentive media which exacerbated the problem ::(. Bkay, it actually makes sense to me because everything seemed to be fine until the total melt down, then I couldn't work fast enough to get at the ones that needed to be repotted. The rot set in quickly as days warmed up. It's difficult to work with roots that are breaking off because they are soil and water logged!

Mocc, I hear you girl! a lesson well learned will linger while the losses can be pushed out of my mind..onwards! Live, learn, do differently in the future! Aye!
I am sorry however that you lost your Aphrodite. She is still rolling around in my mind.

Gesila, two of the losses were under the deck here too but without adequate snow cover! They froze while very wet - goners!

Leafwatcher - there is no rhyme or reason is there that little seedlings make it, and mature 3-yr. stock doesn't make it. Just a tough year overall.

LuckyKat, I hate losing to voles - two years ago they feasted all winter in my front garden. I could see outside the living room window..this little vole running from next door to my bed, back and forth...did he dine at my place, and bed down next door? Lol

Ravens, my Spilt Milk was new too...still in original pot. It was big too..I'm sad about that one so I will replace it. I still have it in the pot..reminding me.
Maybe just a weak one? Good luck with your OM! If it likes it in new area, super! If not, try more sun exposure - may not be as pretty but it will gain vigour, if only for one growing season, then you can claw back some of the sun exposure......just an idea that works here :-)

Ken, your losses hit home! I have to admit that if I lost my LSMASTER I would probably blubber! I bought about 40 new hostas last year, a few were fragrants. LSM was by far my most favourite for its colour and shape and it's fall colour and leaf integrity was superb! I am sorry you lost it. OBL was a Mother's Day or birthday gift, can't recall as was in same month but it was beautiful. I have to replace it, just because. Lovely, lovely hosta.

I planted LSM back into the ground today. :-) glad to hear you will replace both!

Thank you all - it is so nice to hear from you and by sharing your losses you've made me feel a bit better about mine. I sincerely appreciate the support. It is so encouraging.

BTW Brandy, you are not allowed to EVER throw in the hosta towel! Lol Your hosta would never forgive you!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:39PM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Update on the Struggling ones:

'Big Daddy' is alive and well! I could swear I dug him up last fall. Guess what I almost stepped on today while checking out FW? 5 pips of BD. The pips are so dark I almost missed them!! I spotted three then knelt down, ran my palm across the area and found two more. It was so gratifying to feel the firm tips. :-)

Also, 'Made You Look' has finally surfaced - 1 pip so far...Bkay, I'm pretty sure you were the one that posted, may have been on Brandy's thread, that sometimes some good dormant buds will still push through even though some of the crown may have a bit of rot. I am glad I left this one alone to fend for itself. I was disheartened at this point. Glad I resisted chucking it!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:54PM
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