Question about hosta seedlings

lissyanthusAugust 15, 2012

Hi all, Im not a regular poster to gardenweb any more, but come back from time to time with questions. Hope no one minds. :)

I was wondering if anyone would know what to do with my little hosta seedlings this winter. They are only about 3 inches tall at the moment, and have been growing for several months. I started them from seeds this late winter in the house. I've had them outside, in mostly shade sence the beginning of summer. They are very healthy little darlings so far, but do have those little annoying tiny flies flying about still. I thought the wind outside might blow them away...LOL. Guess not! Anyway, any idea of what to do with them for the winter would be sooo appreciated. Thank you all for any help you can give.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

fungus gnats in the potting media.. get them out if it ... and while you are at it....

they need to be planted in mother earth for winter...


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Beneficial Nematodes will take care of Fungus Gnats very quickly.

They may not be big enough to survive the winter outside. If you've got an unheated 3 season porch, or unheated attached garage I would use that. Remember that they will emerge from an unheated porch or garage earlier than usual, so you will have to protect them from frost either by taking them in and out or by using a large sunny window.

They might survive in mother earth, but I wouldn't try to winter them over in the pots. BTW, get a small light setup and start your seedlings earlier in the winter. They will be more likely to survive the winter if they are larger by the time frost comes.

Here's one of mine that was started in late December.

That's a one gallon nursery pot.

Also keep them well watered up until dormancy, then keep them dry during dormancy. A tiny bit of water once a month in winter will suffice.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 8:06PM
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donrawson(Z 5)

Plant them right away so they can send some roots down before winter hits. Then after the ground freezes, mulch them with some coarse material such as straw or evergreen boughs. Leave the mulch on until mid to late spring (until the danger of frost has past). Make sure they don't heave up from the ground during the warm days in early spring. Here is an article that will tell you how to harden off the seedlings and get them ready for winter.

Regarding the fungus gnats, they produce larvae which devastates the root system. Here is an article that explains how to eliminate the gnats.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Here is a more effective replacement (organic) for Bt. No kidding. And it gets a lot more nasty critters.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spinosad

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:25PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I don't know how effective Spinosad is, but BT is a naturally occuring bacteria that is safe, even for food crops, and it is 100% organic.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Spinosad is also a naturally occurring bacteria. It is also OMRI certified. But it is toxic to bees. So if you use it you don't spray it either on or around flowers. It's also a good idea to spray it after the bees have gone to bed.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Thanks Steve.

Reading up on BT, it does not harm non-target insects such as bees. There are different formulations so I would read the directions if using it on food crops.

I think I will stick with BT. It is very effective against gypsy moths.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:29AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I thought fungus gnats had natural enemies outside? I never see them in my garden. Phil

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 1:06PM
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On this same note(hosta seedlings)I'll risk reprimand for hijacking the thread.

I've kept this potted baby Woodland Elf (on far right) in my trough all summer. When purchased in the spring, I was told to leave it in the little pot because it hadn't grown enough roots to be out of the pot. I cut out the bottom of the pot and sunk it in the trough. Ultimately, that will be it's home. The photo was originally taken of Little Treasure, with Blue Mouse Ears on the left.

Should I leave Woodland Elf as is this winter, or pull the pot out of the trough and overwinter it in my unheated garage with my other potted hosta?

psst: I can get a better photo, if necessary, when I get home from work.

Thanks for any help overwintering my newbie Woodland Elf.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Thank you Ken and Steven about the fungus gnats! Little buggers are annoying, as well as damaging I now know. Beneficial nematodes, ok, will do.
Steven, your babies are huge compared to mine. And flower buds! Very nice! Maybe I can add a pic of mine if I figure out how.

Don_r, thank you for the links!

Babka, thank you for the Spinosad link as well. I'll have some reading to do guys!

Jonnyb023, and BT? Well I really have to do some reading. :) Didn't think of the bees. :( Is it bad to want to kill wasps and yellow jackets though? Seems I have a lot of them.

Deb, I don't mind your using my thread at all. I love your trough. Did you make it?

Anyhow, thank you all for the great help, advice, nice pics and links.

I can only downlond one pic I guess, so here is a closeup of one of the babies. It is from seeds of a really large leafed blue hosta. Sorry I don't know the name, it was given to me. Thanks for looking :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I spray spinosad on stuff when it isn't flowering. Or if it is (like tomatoes) I do it in the late afternoon after the bees have headed home. It only bothers bees for 3 hours after it is applied to the parts that bees forage. It is used all around here in fruit orchards, that depend on bees.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Your seedlings are little beauties! They look really hearty as well ;-) You've done a nice job of growing them from seed.

The trough is one of those concrete types that (us) little old ladies frequently have on the front porch. Thank you for being so gracious when I butted in on your post.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 4:21PM
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Babka, thank you for the time to spray info.

Deb, your most welcome.

Don_r, I was reading some from the link you gave me and it's the same stuff that is in mosquito dunks! And I just bought another pack of them for our rain barrels and birdbaths too. I will try using them tomorrow and see what happens. TY again for that link. It's quite interesting reading.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 6:53PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Just remember, the dunks will not kill the adults you see flying around, only the larvae in the soil. You will need to re-apply in about two weeks.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 8:15PM
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Thanks tsugajunkie. You know, I was looking at the little ones this morning and there don't seem to be any bugs flying around. Now that I think of it, I wonder if my watering them from the rainbarrels with the Dunks in them killed them off? It would be funny if I was doing something right without even knowing it. :)


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:12AM
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