Newbie to hosta - yet another hvx question?

kalija(6 WNY)May 5, 2012

Sorry - I know this has probably been beaten to death; but I tried the search and came up empty. I never heard of hvx untill finding this site. None of my Hosta came from big box stores - I have a few that were given to me that I've had for years and one "Pauls Glory" that was bought at our local nursery. It is a "garden splendor" hosta - but I can't find anything on the tag that says where it originated. So - how do you know if a nursery buys from a source that screens for hvx? I assume from reading the threads here that simply asking does not guarantee a honest answer. Is there any place that lists growers/labels that can for the most part be considered safe? Thanks!

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Kalija, I can't answer your question re: a list of safe growere, etc. What I can say is my approach to the HVX threat. I am quite proactive when visiting a nursery or greenhouse regarding HVX testing. If owners/managers of retail outlets of hostas don't seem to take the HVX threat seriously, I do not hesitate to enlighten them. Two years ago I had a shopping cart full of hostas at the checkout register, and I asked for assurance regarding safety from HVX infection. I didn't get any answer from the clerk so I asked for the owner. He gave me an answer that was, frankly, HHS (a term I use that refers to happy horse droppings). As a customer I felt I deserved more than a snow job, and I left the shopping cart there to be put back in stock.

Reading posts on this forum you will find hobbysist who have more than 1000 hostas in their collection. Even using a paltry figure of $5/hosta (a ludicrous figure) the investment just in stock is $5 grand, and then time and other expenses need to be factored in. We deserve to be heeded.

My advice is, buy from growers/retailers etc. whose reputation preceeds them. Chris Wilson, at Hallson is one such highly proactive person. Most on-line sources have a "contact us" provision where you can question them. If you visit a nursery or garden center ask a responsible person what efforts they make to try to prevent infected plants from reaching your garden. If you don't like the answer shop elsewhere.

It isn't like you are burning down their business. When they feel not being proactive is hurting their sales, they will adjust. I have reported an infected plant at checkout, seen it put on a table, and then hung around long enough to see it put back in stock, to be sold to someone else. Would you go back?

I know this is lengthy, but if we all take this approach we may make progress. One last comment, Kalija: Good suppliers, breeders, growers, etc. do read posts in our forum. So your posting, asking the question, is very important. It definitely gets a message across.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Steve put together a great list: click below


Here is a link that might be useful: Where to Buy Hosta

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 2:17PM
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kalija(6 WNY)

Thanks. I saw that thread; none of them are near me but I have ordered some online. Les, yesterday at one nursery they had beautifull big hosta - I asked one of the clerks about hvx and she assured me they get their hosta from "safe" sources. But she couldn't tell me where. I didn't buy any - I felt I was getting some of that HHS! I wish I had known about hvx before I bought that one plant. I guess I will just not plant any of my new "safe" hosta near the risky one just in case. On another note - I was in Lowes yesterday to get some pavers and in the garden center they had a TON of hostas - all on sale for 3.50. They were flying off the shelf. They all looked fine - I wondered for a minute if they were all infected - if even 5 percent were infected thats a lot of sick hostas being planted by the unaware. Can't blame them I guess; they don't know about it and just one hosta at the nursery was 16.99. And I can't even be sure that makes it safe. Sigh.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 8:27AM
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Often a grower/retailer won't want to disclose their sources and tell you they only buy from "safe" sources. And often they are telling the truth. Quality growers are in a rough spot trying to compete with "Big Box" garden centers selling tons at $3.95. I have never asked to see any form of certification that their plants are HVX free. If HVX threatens the entire industry/hobby it may come to that.

I saw a group of very nice looking hostas at an established garden center that were definitely infected, with the collapsed tissue, ink bleeding, etc. I talked to the owner and told him about them. He assured me they were not infected. I asked if they had been tested and he evaded the answer, but told me he only buys from American growers, no european growers, and therefore felt assured his stock was virus free. This I feel is where we as buyers can pressure our sources for better control. I bought a gorgeous Diana Remembered from him, but I potted it and this is my second year with it growing in isolation with the pot in a sleeve buried in the ground. If it shows no signs this summer it will be planted in its "home". I only do this quarantining if there is a question.

I know there are people on this forum who disagree with my approach to addressing the problem, but that is the nature of forums-to air out our opinions as well as sharing our experiences with other hobbyists.

I am on good terms with the owner of Vilts Greenhouse in Wilmington where I live (he doesn't to any electronic sales). We have had many discussions regarding HVX and he is becomming more and more aware. I have noticed more and more of his tags carry the names of breeders, growers that are known to test and certify their plants.

I am not an alarmist, nor do I let it discourage me from enjoying our hobby. But if my gardens got wiped out by HVX I would FEEL THE HURT deeply.

When one is in their 70's we look at plants that take 5 years to mature differently than we did when we were 30. I am buying fewer ripe bananas more often rather than buying larger bunches of green bananas.

If you keep the dangers of HVX in mind, you will feel more comfortible asking more good questions when you shop.I have bought quite a few hostas from a large field grower in Crest Hill IL, and the management is very aware of HVX. But I see a lot of mislabeled plants. To stay financially competitive he has to hire low paid labor who can barely speak English to do the bulk of the grunt work. So I truly am sensitive to the needs, and problems, of our suppliers.

Thanks all for letting me have the soap-box and rant a bit.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:02AM
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I like what you said about your stance changing as you've aged: "When one is in their 70's we look at plants that take 5 years to mature differently than we did when we were 30."

I fear that the real southern market, like deep south area, is an untapped market for these mass producers with no HVX program, and we are due to have the bad stuff dumped on an unsuspecting public with no experience in hosta, used to having annuals for instant gratification, don't know the plant is not supposed to just die like that, and it will be a "trail of tears" across the warmer zones of the country.
If something is going to grow quickly, it can do it with our warmth and humidity, although we don't have a proper dormancy time for things like tulips. With hosta for $3.95, the public can treat them like an annual for instant gratification, then buy another when the first one croaks. All without ever realizing the problem is HVX in the plant, not their lack of care. And the grower never has to face the questions of a knowledgeable public which knows the difference.

Anyway, I am aware the local nurseries are NOT familiar with the latest technology or plant culture for hosta, so I am not bothering to look at any local hosta. I could not tell you if any area nurseries are even growing any. And, in our area are large wholesale nurseries which grow for the national markets. Therefore I am ordering all of my hosta from online sources. The thread that Steve_Mass started on Where To Buy Hosta is one I find helpful.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Where are you located? There is usually a local Hosta society somewhere nearby and they recommend local places.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 1:08PM
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