Cutting Scapes to get more leaves?

bkay2000(8a TX)May 4, 2012

Frank said that cutting off scapes will produce more leaves. Ken said that the plant doesn't put out anymore leaves after it blooms, but goes to building roots for next year.

So, right now, my old sieboldiana, Orange Marmalade, Frances Williams and Pizzazz are putting up scapes. Does that mean they are through growing for the year? If I cut off the scapes, will I get more leaf production? Is that why sieboldiana types are slow growers? They bloom early?

Inquiring minds want to know.


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From a lecture given by Bob Solberg.

Sometime in the summer, the plant will switch gears and go from a vegetative phase to reproductive. Flower stalks will form and bloom. A show of hands was taken to show how many remove flower stalks as they appear. No one does, probably because it is so much trouble. Actually, it serves little purpose, as the flower was already formed the prior year. It is not the flower that takes strength from the plant; it is during seed production that the hosta expends a lot of energy and nutrients. In fact many people remove the flower stalk after flowering but before seed set.

After the hosta has bloomed and the heat of summer has moderated, our idealized hosta will send up another flush of growth. This usually occurs five to six weeks before the last frost date. After this final flush of growth, the hosta will again shift gears and get ready for dormancy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hosta Physiology

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:45AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

ok frank.. i give..

are you agreeing with yourself.. supported by bob..

or was i right..

inquiring minds.. what to know .. or are confused???


ps: the later flush.. doesnt seem to be in any way.. affected by the bloom.. in the above statement

pps: and i am not sure bkay is quoting me properly.. as i was NEVER under the illusion.. that a hosta does NOT reflush ... i may have said it isnt related to flowering ... but not what you typed above ...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:27AM
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The hosta wait until after the heat before they will produce more leaves. I have just cut the scapes before the heat starts.

My thing is about where the energy of the plant is going into. If I don't want it wasted on reproducing by seed I cut off the scape. The energy is directed elsewhere. To growing leaves or growing roots. Either way is a win.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:35AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

My hosta don't get a fall flush, that I am aware of. Since they come up so early here, maybe I get my fall flush in July, although they live until November, usually.

Ken, maybe I misstated what you said. I'm taking it out of context, for sure.

This is the basic question......

I'm loving this Orange Marmalade. I bought it late last summer. It's been growing like a weed. We've passed the orange stage and are onto yellow. It just put up a scape. If I cut off the scape, will that make it continue to grow or is it over for the year?


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:50AM
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As long as you haven't started having high temps I think you will get more leaves. Only one way to find out. The way things grow way down there is pretty different than how they grow way up here.

I had the option to move to Houston recently but wouldn't do it because of how it would change things for my hosta.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:59AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Ken, maybe I misstated what you said. I'm taking it out of context, for sure.

==>> i suspected NOTHING ELSE ... i am messin with frank.. so dont get offended by all the 'attitude' .. lol ...

clarence falstad of walters gardens ... that little wholesaler out of zeeland MI ... once said to the be the largest mass producer of perennials in the US.. and the place where.. if i am not mistaken.. zilis founded the TC lab.. when it was all theory ...

anywho.. he once told me ... IF I RECALL CORRECTLY .. that by the time you see the scape.. the energy is all spent .. and so removing or not.. is a personal choice.. but really istn going to change anything in regard to the plant itself ...

bkay.. one of the reasons to divide plants in late summer.. is due to the time of year.. and the time to grow new roots ...

and ALL hosta reflush later in the season ... i dont know why TX ones wouldnt ...

anyway ... the simple way to think of all this.. relates back to TC.. and hormone manipulation ... a plant does NOTHING.. unless its hormones tell it to ..

if the hormone says grow a flower .. it does..

if it says time to grow roots.. it does.. and that is the hormone which is used in TC to grow roots on ex-plants ..

on all that logic.. i just dont see how cutting off scapes ...would in any way.. change its hormones.. but who knows ...


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:07PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Thanks, Ken.

Wow Frank, you'd be out of the hosta business in Houston, I would think. They have almost no winter.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Wendys_garden(5b Great Lakes)

I am far from being an expert on this, but I'll share with you my experience with new seedlings I am growing. Several of the seedlings sent up flower scapes. Half of them I cut the scapes off of immediately, the other half I let grow.

My observations on the ones I cut off immediately: the shoot the scape came from is now "done", no more leaves have been produced. But a new shoot formed from the crown soon afterward, and those seedlings are now doubled in size.

On the ones I let flower, so far no new growth has been observed. I am assuming they are putting their energy into the root system, as I have not seen any more top growth in the last 1-2 months.

It may be different for mature plants, but this has intrigued me enough to try it with my plants in the ground this season.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:18PM
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ConnieMay(6a - Canada)

Hi bkay,

I say cut them off.

Not sure about what is going on with hormones, but we know that if a hosta strangely only sends up a scape in the spring (like my Paul's Glory did last year) cutting it off will cause the plant to send up leaves...

Connie May

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:31PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

It's not a strange time here. Sieboldianas always bloom about this time. It might be a little early, but not much.

I guess I get to make up my clorox solution now.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:41PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

I'm no expert but it seems logical to me considering that plants expend energy to produce leaves, flower stalks/scapes, seed production and roots, that any energy that is not used/saved could/would be redirected elsewhere. Take us humans for example, any unused energy turns to fat. So the energy saved could potentially be redirected into the production of more leaves before it gets too hot or into the roots when the temperature cools down after a hot period. If the hosta is an early flowering variety, then the energy could/would be used for leaf production. If we are dealing with a late flowering variety the energy would/could go to the roots. NOT SURE I'm on solid ground regarding my last three sentences because I don't quite understand the role of temperature in root development. I do know that hostas need warmth to emerge and that they need a cold spell to go dormant. What goes on during this dormancy?

Re energy I was of the understanding that you don't let a tulip flower go to seed, so as to redirect the energy into the bulb. You don't cut off the foliage because they are required for energy storage. Sometimes hostas for various reasons (lack of sufficient sunlight/energy) don't send up stalks/ flower at all due to a lack of energy. Secondly, I've never seen my hostas get a second flush of leaves, either because I have never cut my scapes before flowering OR because I've been unobservant.

So, if hormones trigger certain events to take place, the hormone starting seed production just cannot do its job if the scape has been removed but the saved energy surely has to go somewhere. SO now I've thoroughly confused myself because I don't know what conditions trigger the hormones to do their job and because I don't know how many hormones are involved. If only one hormone controls the scape formation, flower formation, seed formation cycle, energy still has to be used at each stage of this cycle because changes occur. Any energy saved at any stage of the cycle is left for the next cycle.

NOW, last summer I dug up a Sagae that didn't seem to be growing. It had great root development but hardly any top growth. So, what happened? Was it lack of hormones or lack of energy. I would assume lack of energy/nutrients because Sagae was competing with tree roots. Humans go into starvation mode when not enough nutrients are available. What do plants do? Eventually they die but how do they decide whether to produce leaves or roots. Surely, this is dependent on the type of nutrients/energy available. I guess this interplay of environment and heredity is really complex.

I was ready to delete these ramblings but have decided to post instead as there might be someone out there who can point out any fallacious reasoning or throw more light on the subject of the potential of harnessed energy in the development of the hosta.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 2:10PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

This further adds to my question. I have a really old plant I've had since the mid '90s. I call it sieboldiana because I haven't been able to ID it. It came from a box at Sam's. It has to be the slowest growing plant in the universe. It's a nice big plant, but only had 9 eyes this spring, which is not ususual. It always blooms this time of year. Does it grow slowly because it blooms early?


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Holy cow, (sliding off topic) somebody else (besides me) bought hosta in a box at Sam's?

OK, pardon the interruption. Carry on with the hormone discussion. I'm paying attention.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 3:03PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

My DH has a saying, "Experience is a dear school, and a fool can learn in no other".

What can I say? Yes, I bought hosta at Sam's. I wouldn't do it now, however. That was more than 15 years ago. I looked at the boxes the last time I was there and they clearly say they came from Holland.

I am now being cured of Lowe's, one noid at a time.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 3:16PM
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