The ID problem

prairie_love(z3/4 ND)August 23, 2014

So here is part of my trouble with verifying the ID of my hosta. I use the hosta library as one of my primary sources. But for some hosta, the photos show so very much variation, that I can't decide whether mine matches or not!

Here's an example. Gypsy Rose. Every one of these photos looks different to me. I understand that the plant will look different based on soil, sun, water, etc., but is there something I should look for that would tell me that every one of these photos is Gypsy Rose?

Here is a link that might be useful: Gypsy Rose

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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

PrairieLove, I feel your pain! It was that way for me in the beginning as well.

First of all, an ID simply from pictures won't give the answer. I think you need the printed description of the plant, to understand the changes it goes through which are shown in the pictures. All the pictures of Gypsy Rose are taken at different times of the year when the plant is in one phase or another.

So on the Hosta Library page, look at the very top of the first picture of Gypsy Rose, off to the left. Run your mouse over the words there, MYHOSTAS.BE DATABASE. Click that link, and you'll go to another website with a lot of descriptive information to explain what you are seeing in numerous photos.

Are you using Gypsy Rose as an example of identifying your hostas? Or are you only trying to identify one plant you believe to be Gypsy Rose?

Gypsy Rose was the first of the Striptease family I got. I really like it. The one I got was a smaller hosta, the leaves had the distinctive white line between the mid-leaf and the margin, but it was like a "vee" at the pointy end, giving a "g-string" look to the leaf. The plant was more compact and well groomed than the Striptease I got the next year, which had a looser plant shape, larger leaves, and had more of a white defining line between the mid-leaf and the margin.
That is how I identify them, because they are definitely different.

Here is a picture of the 9 members of the Striptease family that I now have in my garden. I like to keep them together because it helps me to differentiate between them. Of course, mine are in pots and easily rearranged when the mood strikes. This works for me with this family of hosta, and with other families too.

Can you find Gypsy Rose in this picture?

Okay, from the back row:
Striptease - Gypsy Rose - Kiwi Full Monty
Snake Eyes - Juha - Yellow Polka Dot Bikini - Hanky Panky
Cabaret - Erotica

Hope this helps. It's my way of looking at different features.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:52PM
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hostas_for_barb(6b Ontario)

Hi Prairie: mocc was a good one to answer your question as she has quite a few family members with the white strip. I have Hanky Panky and I think this photo of mine shows why it is so hard to ID. The leaf in the middle is new with a dark green center where the one above and the one below are older and the center has matured to light green. The leaves actually reverse their colours as the season progresses. So two leaves on the same plant look quite different. My next post will show the whole plant.

This post was edited by Hostas_for_Barb on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 21:19

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:05PM
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hostas_for_barb(6b Ontario)

Here is Hanky Panky and again you can see how different some of the leaves look as they mature. But they all have the white strip.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:23PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

mocc - I was using GR as an example. I actually do know which hosta in my garden is GR (for a change) but am frustrated when I look up a variety and get such a wide diversity of images. GR seemed especially bad at this.

I did not know the side bar thing on hosta library, thank you.

Of your image, I have GR and also Striptease, none of the others. And in my own garden those two are easy to tell apart. But if I were starting with an unknown, I'm not sure the photos I can find for each would help me out. I do understand what you are saying, but I think it takes experience and having multiple similar varieties to get it.

Hostas-for-Barb - very interesting comparison of the different leaves on one plant. Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:47PM
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bishop5(5 IA)

Thank you mocc and barb. The information was hugely helpful to me as I'm trying to ID quite a few of my own.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:58PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

The Hosta Library has thousands of hostas. So when you are trying to ID a hosta, is is a good idea to come here and tell everyone ...where you got it, how old it is, post a photo with some sort of measurement so people can tell whether or not it is a 15" leaf or a 2" leaf. What time of the year the photo is taken and sun exposure.

FYI I've had Kiwi Full Monty and Striptease for many years, and never saw the size difference that I see in Mocc's plants. One was green and Kiwi was blue of the same plant for me.

Unless you have purchased your plant from a very knowledgeable source, I would suggest you label them "probably bla bla bla". There are many look alikes.

I currently am trying to figure out the difference between El Nino, and Sleeping beauty. Both white margined sports of Halcyon. One from USA, one from Europe.

This ain't easy by a long shot.

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:28AM
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mstrecke(z8 Seattle)

Age and sun exposure tend to make id-ing hosta more complicated.

Variegated plants often have much narrower margins when young.

I believe the hosta library stopped posting pictures of younger - immature plants some time ago. I doubt the person maintaining it has time to go back and edit out any pics of young plants.

If you run onto any hostas with variances in pictures, think about the things that cause the same plant from looking different from each other; age, sun exposure etc and it will help hone your ID skills even further.

Margaret

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 2:07AM
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Eleven(Metro Detroit 6A)

Babka, El Nino begins the season with white margins and stays that way. Whereas my Sleeping Beauty begins with a yellowed margin that eventually lightens to white.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:59AM
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sherrygirl zone5

I am tempted to say forget the hosta library! All of you hosta lovers/collectors help so much more! Experience is the best teacher and you have it. I have learned so much from reading all of the posts here. Just another thank you to all who have helped me out!!!!!

Sherry

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:59AM
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hostas_for_barb(6b Ontario)

Ditto Sherry. You have all been a great help!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:06PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

with 25 years in hosta... and working with the library.. since its inception..

frankly.. you can not use it as an ID tool ...

simply impossible ...

ken

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:28PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

I for one hope no one edits out the immature hosta from the HLibrary. It would take me up to five years or sometimes more of growing a plant before I could know whether what I'm growing is the plant I ordered. I don't have five years to waste, if you can call it that.

Sometimes the immature photo is all that is available, and that is why the young one is shown. You will also note that several with ONLY one photo have no further information in the MYHOSTAS.BE website either. It indicates to me that it did not fare that well in gardens or that it was merely a "hopeful" which did not reach it to market. Exciting hosta will end up with multiple photos, shown grown in full sun or in full shade, and with no details such as that supplied as a footnote, we have to be able to infer the growing conditions.

I truly hope that DelawareDonna's Grape Fizz reaches the library though. It is shown at peak of form in full bloom. I can see it in memory now.

Also, some of the older photos have a color shift in the photo, which is not true color. For instance, a twilight photo will give a shift toward cooler lavender tones. What exactly IS the true color? Cameras do not automatically give us what our eye sees, but they sure can look beautiful!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Eleven- Thanks for explaining the difference between Sleeping Beauty and El Nino. I always had them at different ends of the yard and only just this year put them near each other on the deck outside my fam room. By the time I moved them, both had white edges and looked like twins.

-Babka

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:54PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Well, I also have found this group of people to be extremely helpful and kind. But I feel badly asking again and again and again (especially when occasionally I think it's the same plant I asked about before).

I've also been trying to LEARN to figure it out, but so far I'm not making much progress on that front.

So, I'll take your advice and ask here :)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:53PM
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prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

Well, I also have found this group of people to be extremely helpful and kind. But I feel badly asking again and again and again (especially when occasionally I think it's the same plant I asked about before).

I've also been trying to LEARN to figure it out, but so far I'm not making much progress on that front.

So, I'll take your advice and ask here :)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:30PM
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don_in_colorado

"I've also been trying to LEARN to figure it out, but so far I'm not making much progress on that front."

Oh, you will, Prairie Love. The longer you're exposed to hostas/grow hostas/correspond with other hosta-lovers, the more plants you'll recognize, then in a couple or three seasons or so, you won't even think about it most of the time. You'll be one of the people who can I.D. plants for other folks. : )

Don B.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 5:46PM
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