Handling requests for 'just a piece of that one!'

vicky_sheboygan(zone 5)May 9, 2012

A relative has asked for some divisions of my hostas. For most of the hostas, this is the first year that they look like they are coming into maturity, which makes people want a "piece." For example, I have two of Liberty. They are stunning this year. I do not want to split them, they are anchors on either side of my yard, they have never been moved or divided. One has four fat eyes and looks great. The other has 8 eyes, but they are smaller, and it is still unfurling. If it ever warms up here, I think it is going to grow into something really beautiful. My relative wants the hostas that have "colors". Sigh. Surely someone has dealt with this gracefully. My husband says to tell them where they can buy them.

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Gesila(MI Z5)

I'd simply tell them that they are not ready to be moved or divided yet as it would set them back, but will keep them in mind when they are ready.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

I agree with your husband. I just tell people that I don't divide my Hostas. Dividing will set them back. "But I know a good place where you can get one."


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:55PM
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I agree with your husband.

You just say that you are sorry but you have too much time invested in your hosta to cut into them.

Tell your relative that it takes years for a hosta to become mature and that by disturbing the roots system you have to start over and take even more years to get them back to where they were.

Let them know they need to purchase multi-eyed hosta growing in pots or they will be waiting for years to get the results that you have gotten.

Just say NO!!!!

Unless I have extras of something in a pot on the driveway, no one is getting anything.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Gesila(MI Z5)

LOL, I love how the guys say "just say no", that's kind of what my DH said, but with more vigor!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:06PM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

I explain that I'm seeking mature specimens for my garden and hostas cannot be divided if you want mature, large-leaf specimens.
My SIL, for years now, has expected that I'll be dividing my 500 hosta varieties and she'll get the spoils of it. NOPE!
Also difficult when you're in a swap group and everyone assumes that you're willing to divide everything in your garden at some point.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:24PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I just say NO too. I spent a lot of years to get this hosta looking like this. Sorry, but get your own and have fun watching it mature, just like I did.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Had not thought about that happening! Oh dear!!

No way, don't think in this lifetime any of mine will be so big that I'd spare a single eye! If it is someone who has been really really nice to me, I'll order one for them, and let THEM grow it.

Heck, give hosta as presents, or a gift card at Christmas and let them do their own ordering.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:06AM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

Hey Vicky... Every cloud has a silver lining, this could save us all

The answer is..
"I wish I could, its to bad my plants have HVX !"

cruel but effective... :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:12AM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

Vicky, give them an option: they're more than welcome to a division once the plants are mature (5-7 years), or they can get them at your favourite nursery......today....


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 2:33AM
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I'm in the just say NO camp, though I would probably try to be a little gentler in the delivery.

I like the responses above that explain you have waited years for them to look this good and digging them up could sent them back a long way.

Then have a ready to print list of mail order sources (Hallsons, etc) and tell them to go wild.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:35AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

ask them what they are bringing to share with you ...

and then offer to take them shopping for NEW plants that can be divided right out of the pot .. imagine the options with a double budget ..

and when they say they dont have a budget.. then tell them you dont dig up yoru plants ...

basically.. they want you to spend your money.. and then take the bounty ...

or just tell them they are all patented.. and its against the law to divide them and give them away.. [i am sure they will never check.. lol] ...

and if all that doesnt work.. club them upside the head with the shovel .... and tell them you are going in to get the gun.. and suggest they be off the property.. before you get back.. oh wait.. family??? .. lounge at the end of the drive.. and dont let them on the property in the first place ...

rotf ...


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 7:49AM
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I agree with everyones comments. Just say no and explain why. I feel like I've been growing my hosta for years and am still waiting for those large statement plants. Hosta people would never ask. However my garden club doesn't understand why I don't stock the annual plant sale with hosta every year...I only share those plants that I have planned to share (split and grown as multiple plants). I also have a tendency to only share with those people that I know truly appreciate hosta. Selfish? Perhaps. However I have invested a lot of time and money in this slow growing plant. Good luck with the family. Give them some daylilies!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:00AM
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I like ken's approach about asking what they might have to swap (if I have seen their gardens and don't see infected hostas), with qualifications.

I have 3 Blue Angel, 2 Serendipity, 2 Gold Standard, and others; and of course tons of the usual U. Albomarginata and Lancifolia. I would be willing to swap a whole mature BA, S, or GS for a mature hosta that I want. I also have used one of my multiples to take divisions for others from.

I have found I can take divisions of F. Aureomarginata, Paul's Glory, Old Glory, Guacamole, August Moon, and Ginko Craig, among other fast growers, and next spring you would never know it. Some seem to do best when you slow prune the crowns that way.

But generally, if I don't want to take a division of a hosta, or just simply not want to give THAT person a division PERIOD, I simply say so without making excuses.

If someone asked for a piece of my Sagae or Liberty I would think "NO WAY and say "No, it is a display plant and I won't divide it in any way." And if I like the person, I might add "but you can have a piece of Blue Angel if you would like one."

This last approach is "for the sake of our hobby". I am all for infecting others with the "hostaphyllia virus". It is good for the hobby.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:17AM
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The next time you know your needy relative is going to be there have your clipboard at the ready. Have the names, addresses, phone numbers and web addresses of all the trustworthy hosta retailers at the ready. Carry it with you as the person starts saying I want a piece of this, that and the other. Write them all down and send the person on their way with their very own shopping list.

Explain to the person that they need to have two list as all of us do. A "WANT" list and a "Have" list. Explain to the person that their "WANT" list is their shopping list so they know which ones they want to BUY for themselves.

Make sure to include the names of the better reference books as well as hostalibrary.org, americanhostasociety.org, local hosta societies, agida.com, etc, etc, etc.

It is one thing when someone greatly admires your beautiful hosta and all of the hard work you have put into your garden. It is totally different when someone walks in and expects you to give them what they want without regard for what it has taken to get where you are at.

The first type of person I would give starts to of some things and help them get started on their own addiction.

The second type of person thinks they are entitled to your hosta. They can be given names but they won't get my plants or even a sliver of one.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:19AM
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vicky_sheboygan(zone 5)

Wow -- thanks for all the responses! I have shared pieces of fast growing hostas, or those that I don't care so much about since I have found better ones. I just didn't want to seem selfish.

But it is those "prize" ones that have taken years and look great, but grow so slowly that I know they are going to want. I like Ken's idea of keeping them, "family," confined to one part of the yard --

They are coming sometime in June...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Not butchering your hosta is not being selfish. We all know how much time, money and dedication it takes to grow nice mature hosta.

This person has already shown you that they want you to pay for what they want. It is not like they asked you where they can get one for themselves. They want yours.

Just going on what they already said, I would bet money that if you do give them something and it isn't what they told you they wanted, they will complain about what you did give them.

If one of my relatives asked me to start digging up my hosta so they can have a piece, I would ask them if they are crazy.

It is just plain rude to walk into someones garden and start asking for this and that.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:53AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

There's always the, "Now is a bad time. If/when I decide to divide it, it will be in the spring/fall (whenever they aren't there). I'll let you know."

Another one would be, "Wow, they're too young to divide. If/when I decide to divide it, I'll let you know."

It gets rid of the immediate problem without making any real promises and allows the rest of the visit to proceed without any hurt feelings.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:07AM
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Nobody would walk into your living room and ask if they could have one of your lamps, since there are 4 of them. It's curious that plants are in a different category.

I don't think people are rude so much as ignorant of how fiercely devoted gardeners adore and value their plants.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:13AM
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There are plenty of good and reliable growers who would just love to sell hosta. That's their job.
You. on the other hand, are a gardener. It is not your job to supply the neighbourhood with plants.
The request is rude. Say no, with no explanations, no apologies and no qualms. Practise in front of the mirror if that's what it takes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

one other option.. is to have a small bed.. 4 by 6 feet... with extra stock in it ...

buy a new one.. put a piece in there..

dig one up to move it.. take a piece ...

make sure you have a few lancilolia.. and golden tiara ... ready to go ...

etc ...

then take the beggers to that bed.. and ask which they want ...

and when they say.. oh.. i dont want that charity.. i want one of your treasures.. well .. you know.. the whole shovel scenario ...

or!!!! .. just explain.. that as a drug addiction.. JUST SAY NO ... is the only option.. lol ...

what.. if they like one of the kids.. am i supposed to give him to them????


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:21AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I know I would say no,but I don't have the option,since no one ever comes into my garden to even see it! But,it would be next to impossible to even dig up some of my hosta,being as they're planted on steep slopes,and I planted them years ago with a hand trowel,every laast one of them! I wouldn't even attempt it. I have moved some of the easier ones to a different spot to get them to grow better,but that's a different story. Phil

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 3:36PM
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evermore_gw z 4/5 NB

I've been sitting here roaring with laughter. We have to get Ken patented or copyrighted or whatever they do to original thinkers. He is a one-of-a-kind! Irrepressible. Unique. And genuinely funny.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:16PM
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"We have to get Ken patented or copyrighted or whatever they do to original thinkers"

They usually just call them crazy since eccentricity, to put it mildly, comes with high intelligence.

I found a picture of Ken. lol

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

steve is my new best friend ....

i would consider putting the shovel away BEFORE he visited..

except he would get no gifts.. if i dont drag the shovel along ...

and that is why the shovel is always handy ... i say no VERY often.. but sooner or later.. we run across something i dont mind digging a bit up ...

and with a 500 foot square yard.. if i dont drag the shovel from the git go.. i aint walking back and forth ...


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 4:58PM
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