A couple with root issues

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)July 27, 2012

I have two hosta which I will picture below.

One is Captain Kirk. It looks like it is sending out roots from a joint in the petiole. I thought I had it set properly in the soil, but take a look and tell me.

and the full plant shot

Then the one in the green pot. I forgot which one it is, will have to track it down I guess. But those roots are growing up and out and even through the middle of the petiole on the inside portion of it. Is that crown too high out of the pot or what? It is a wild and crazy thing happening there. Also, it seems to be trying to put out some new shoots with all the new roots.

Any thoughts appreciated.

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Ludi _PA_7a

This may not be pertinent . . . but my orchids (esp phal's) do this when they are planted to high out of the pot.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 7:24AM
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Ludi, you know how a pothos grows roots at every joint, well, Captain Kirk is looking like THAT at that joint. Never saw a hosta which had such a joint in the petiole.

Is Captain Kirk stoloniferous or rhizomatus? And what do you think caused these two to do this? Maybe all the rain and humidity this last month?

And what should I do about it? Anything like replanting it deeper in the soil? Both look to have their crowns placed correctly, to me.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I've not seen that before, but I'm inclined to think these guys were not planted deeply enough. You might want to ask Chris about this. I've seen him post that roots develop in this way and should be below the soil surface.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

Barbara, 'Captain Kirk' is out of 'Gold Standard' and that whole Hyacinthina family is not stoloniferous/rhizomatous. Judging by the first shot I'd be inclined to say it may have been planted a little too deep, which is at odds with Steve's comment, I know. What makes me say that is I don't see any evidence of last year's growth poking up, like the remains of last year's cataphylls, those spikey, thready things - good technical description, eh what.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:20AM
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Pieter, you speak of the stuff which looks like coconut fiber around the crown area, another technical description..:)

Yeah, I've never seen one (in my 2 years of looking at hosta) with a joint in the petiole, and then roots coming out of it. The crown is nicely in the soil, no roots were sticking up from that region. With Captain Kirk, they just started growing around that joint, up in the air. Like I could cut it off and start a new plant...

Steve, I'll have to call in the big guns, get Chris to weigh in on this topic. Hmm, how to contact him...

And I'll take a look at the green pots to see which one had that wild and crazy root growth.

Honestly, we've had very tropical conditions here lately, and it could be stressing the hosta to the point of resorting to new methods of survival. From reading Schmid's writings about hosta being survivors, ready to adapt to conditions where they find themselves, I'm beginning to think he was right....and I've got two plants which seem to indicate new survival methods.

Just because I'm crazy doesn't mean I am on the wrong track. :)

Ah, well, I got Captain Kirk a couple of companions then....two Gold Standards, Captain's Adventure, and Brenda's Beauty in the same family. But before it gets too too hot, I want to ID the second plant and email Chris.

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:09PM
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I have a few hostas doing sort of the same thing this year.. which I dug and re_plant.. I can't remember all of them but I remembered Sun Power was one of them... I will try to check later which of them and how they are doing now, will take pictures if the root is still above the soil level.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Unfortunately i did not take pic when i dug and replant them, but i remembered when i checked the root most of them were dried and rot.. Its like a shell with shrinking root inside... no smell.
This in Fried green tomatoes now, had to cut most of the crown and dried roots.

And this is Sun power, still struggling but no root showing above ground level now.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 6:33PM
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The green pot with the wild looking roots belongs to Aphrodite. Which is about to bloom by the way. GORGEOUS scape and the smaller side buds are opening up a bit to reveal some white like popcorn nestled down in the green. The big bud on the top is swelling a bit more, loosening up somehwat.

Also, there seems to be a new eye coming from that mass of roots. Until I find out what is going on, I'm doing nothing to it.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 6:42PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i looked at the library .. and isnt capt kirk .. blue with white center.. yours is all green????

if CP is not stoleniferous.. maybe its not CK ...

as to the other ...

its root growing time.. time to store food for next springs leap in spring .. it will put its roots ... where they want them.. i have seen lots of them.. do what the second is doing ...

i dont know what to tell you about it.. its not all that abnormal ... but why is it so deep in the pot??? the pot looks half empty??? maybe is a heat reaction being in its little cubby.. pure speculation ...

if you want chris to answer.. then find and email him thru his GW email.. and include a link to this post..

heck of a rainy day today where he is.. surprised he hasnt chimed in ... just north of him got 1 to 2 inches in 30 mins.. he will probably have gotten none..


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 6:55PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

You can reach Chris at hallsons@perennialnursery.com. Email him the pics and please do let us know what he says.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 8:52PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I don't think I've ever seen a joint in a petiole (leaf stem). Something weird going on there. I've had many that get surface roots but they all come out of the crown of the plant,...no joints around here (haha)


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Ken, I took a look at the plant in the picture, out in the garden, and it does have the white/cream centers on some of the leaves, with the rest two tones of green....or mostly green anyway, maybe blue green not sure. I think it is like one of the pictures in the HL, but it has sure changed a lot since I got it. Captain's Adventure has a much wider middle creamy yellow, and the edges are a narrower dark green.

About how low it is in the pot. I compact the potting mix as much as possible, but it always seems to get beaten down even further. It has happened to quite a few of my potted hosta. I was wondering if I needed to just pull the whole potting ball/mass out, throw some more soil mix in the bottom and then plop the plant back in it. That is what I intended to do later this year, but if it is time for the roots to be growing, I might should do it now. Thinking along those lines, I got 8 more 2 cu ft bags of MiracleGro this week when I bought em out of pots. I always like to have a few extras around.

I sent Chris an email through Hallsons, with the link, earlier today.

If you think the low level of the plant in the pot could be setting up a microclimate, that jibes with my thought that our weather is giving them pretty tropical conditions. Leading to some root growth?

What should I do about the plant itself....do I have it too deep or too shallow? Should I wash the soil away and check?
I did not want to do that to my Aphrodite seeing as she is about to bear her first blooms and all. In her case, maybe I do need to put some more potting mix around the vigorous display of new roots?

Hope Chris did get some rain. Avalon Acres said they were in extreme dryness, over in Illinois, so I hope they all got a good drink of rain.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:15PM
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I compact the potting mix as much as possible, but it always seems to get beaten down even further.

Moccasin, I was wondering if soil compaction was causing the roots to do this. And you confirmed at least that the soil is compacted. Along with all the rain you've had & high humidity, I'm wondering if the plant is growing roots where it's easiest to grow roots?? Sounds kinda' crazy but maybe??

Anyway, I'm really curious to hear what Chris has to say.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:07PM
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yeah I thought the same thing cilantro... before I read your response... I was thinking.. I don't think you should compact the soil as much as you can... you want things fluffy... let the watering do what compacting it does and thats plenty... you should never really smash or tamp the soil down into the pot with any force... just my opinion..

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Maybe the term "compacting" is not right. What is happening is the pots have MiracleGro and the amount of soil kept going lower and lower, the plant dropping down lower in the pot. I've potted them where they start out almost level with the pot top, and after a couple of strong rains, they are down at the point where that flange or flare to the pot begins.

I was thinking maybe more of the white stuff in there, the word escapes me now. Vermiculite? or the other word..... drats.

I've had computer problems all day today, and it has me exhausted. Fiddle dee dee, said Scarlett, I'll worry about that tomorrow. Good night all.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 12:03AM
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Hi Moccasin,

Sorry to keep you all waiting LOL No rain here all week unfortunately, though it got really close in all directions and listened to thunder for days.

The Aphrodite is probably the easier one to explain. With all of the rain it is probably just creating a really wet/humid environment down in that pot, and if the soil has been compacted it might be staying really wet too, so it is growing roots where there is moisture. It doesn't seem to be hurting the plant, but I'm not sure what it will do when the plant goes dormant. If your soil compacts that badly I'd try to find a different potting mix that is a little more coarse, or mix something like an orchid mix (with a lot of bark) in with the MiracleGro mix to improve the drainage. I tend to shoot for about 40% coarse bark in my mix though sometimes I only get about 30% and that seems fine too. If you were to repot the Aphrodite in some new better draining soil just plant slightly deeper though the fragrant plants do tend to grow new eyes near the surface. As long as you don't have a really cold winter it should be fine so long as that pot doesn't stay soaking wet all winter long.

Captain Kirk has something different going on. The soil level on that plant had actually changed in the past, probably some time last winter before it emerged in the spring, and then it was planted in the pot back at the old soil level. From the "joint" where it is growing roots and down that is not part of the petiole but those are actually rhizomes that had elongated in order to reach up to the soil surface and then formed eyes at the top of those elongated rhizomes. So at one point in time this plant was planted at one depth, got covered a lot over the winter or sank deeper into the soil so that when new eyes started to grow the next spring they weren't near the surface and had to elongate or grow up to start new crowns up higher, then when you planted it you put the older crown at soil level with the rhizomes sticking up above, thinking they were part of the petioles. Maybe all of this happened before you even got it, but definitely it was planted much deeper at one time and then got replanted higher later.

Since the base of that Captain Kirk is actually part of the crown, and it is trying to put roots out at the top of that crown, I would replant it back deeper in new soil that doesn't compact so badly. Then those roots will develop much better on their own. This means your Captain Kirk will be growing 3 separate crowns from those joints but at least it won't be too high like it is now.

I sure hope that helps.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 10:12AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)


Do you wet your potting soil before you pot up the plants? You should always wet the potting soil before planting, and then even though the soil is already wet, when you get the plant in, water it again really well to eliminate air pockets and see what the soil level will be after some watering. That way if you need to make an adjustment, you can do it right then and there.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Chris, thank you for the rundown on what is going on with Aphrodite and Captain Kirk. I will be getting some pine bark or orchid mix to blend in with the other potting mix. You are like a forensic scientist digging up history or pathology. Really, I'm keeping that in my files.

What a strange adventure Captain Kirk has had, and lived to tell about it. I think Schmid was right when he said the hosta will do what it takes to survive.

Today we had two thunderstorms. Before the first one, I was limp and exhausted, and had to come inside to rest. When it started raining, before the thunder, I decided it was the perfect time to do some potting. I worked all through the first storm, and it was so nice and cool working in the rain, when the second tstorm came along, I kept going. Oh, the new pots were all lovely. It was after 7 pm when I finished and stepped back to admire the fullness of the hosta garden. Because yes, it is now looking like a hosta garden. Or my idea of a container hosta garden.

And Deanna, no I do not wet the soil before I pot up the plants. I'll try it. With the MiracleGro, even after a full watering, the soil goes down further the next time I water. I do not remember the OLD MiracleGro doing such a thing.

What I might try to do is fill a pot to the brim with dry MiracleGro, wet it, set it aside to drain or dry, see how far down it sank. Then after it is dried out, I will water it again, and measure again. As long as it keeps going down, I'll continue the test. I drilled extra holes in the entire pot and saucer combos, so all the pots with hosta should drain freely.

Now tomorrow I must redo the Aphrodite with bark, redo Captain Kirk, and check all the older pots for soil level too. We have had a lot of rain, nothing is suffering for water, but there may be another somewhere that needs a repotting.

Meanwhile, oh my aching back. I did not think I was bending over all that much, but guess I was. It's been a very long day, so see you guys tomorrow some time.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:02PM
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Well said Chris... You don't have to wet the medium down first... Just fill the pot up halfway or so and water it down... The insert more medium or the plant.... And cover then water it down.... Just use a little common sense...knowing the soil level is gonna drop the first time you water... So filling the pot initially with all the soil you can... Then watering it down will give you a good idea about where to put your crown at....

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 7:23AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Bump for Mocc, et al.

This post was edited by josephines67 on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 1:50

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:46AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada



    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:11AM
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Hey, Jo that is it. Much obliged. A lot of good info from Chris about the mix and the roots.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:14AM
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