when to start seeds

almosthookedOctober 19, 2012

I would like to know when the time is to plant the seeds that have been gathered from hosta. Are they started now or later in the fall/ winter. Would be fun to see if I can grow a few and this year wouldn't care if they are just green or just however they happen to turn out.I have started other seeds but never tried my hand at hosta seeds

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Almosthooked, Most people I know that grow seeds in the Winter, including myself start their seeds some time between September and January. I've started them in September, October, November and December in previous years. When you start them in September, especially if you're growing a large number, they can get pretty big and can be a maintenance chore in the weeks before last frost in the Spring. December works well for having the right size seedlings to harden off and plant in the ground in the Spring but I like having seedlings to look at sooner. This year I'm starting November 1st and will likely do a few trays a week until the first week in December. So yes, you can definitely plant them now, especially if you're not doing a lot. You'll have nice sized seedlings by Spring. Good luck, it's a lot of fun.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Dan is spot on with his advice. Last year I started seeds in December because I had a small table top light and not much room to keep seedlings when they got big. They didn't go outside until May 15th. Here's what they looked like at that time.

This year I'm starting in November as Dan is. I have a lot of seeds, so I'll sow them slowly over a period of weeks. Right now I still have some late developing seeds that are still on scapes in my garden. Those may not get planted until Thanksgiving.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

cant keep track of everyone.. where are you ...

when i started them in oct.. i was swamped and overwhelmed by march.. and no alternative with them.. until june after last frost/freeze .... in MI

when i started them in jan.. they were mush easier to deal with.. until i could get them outside ...

the real root of the problem.. is march/april/may.. when i started going back outside.. and quit giving them the attention they needed.. because i would rather have been outdoors.. than piddling around indoors ... with way too many plants ...

but all that doesnt mean ... you cant be doing all the necessary prep work indoors.. sterilizing pots.. setting up lights.. cleaning seeds.. setting up the bench/table/lights.. etc ...

just like a good paint job.. prep is 95% of the chore.. actually setting seeds on media.. only takes minutes ... so dont leave it all for january..

have fun


    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:36AM
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I've been so inspired by Steve & Dan's pix of their seedling babies and have decided that I must be starting some myself this winter.

Problem...I can't find any seeds for sale and didn't have any to gather from my own hostas. Have looked for Jeff Miller's M&M seeds and can't find it. Nothing at the Hosta Library Auction. Did I miss out already or have the seeds not yet been listed? (Also looked over on the hosta Seedgrowers site.) Or was it just such a miserably hot summer that most hostas didn't set seed & finding them is going to be very difficult?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:48AM
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bernd ny zone5

I read that Jeff Miller will do his seed sale on his site for Land of the Giants Hosta Farm this year, not at M&M.
I noticed when doing seeds from green, gold or blue plants you could start in December and they will still be manageable in April. I started seeds from streaked plants too late in January, and they were still small in April, so this year I also will start in November.
Here are my seedlings this year in July. Bernd

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 9:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

jim's hosta used to sell seeds


    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:05AM
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Jeff Miller is an excellent source for seeds. As Bernd said, last I heard, he was planning on selling them on his LotG website this year. Another good source is Doug Beilstein's HostaWorks site. He puts out an annual list at Thanksgiving. Things usually start showing up on e-bay and The Hosta Library Auction about November as well.

Have Fun :)


Here is a link that might be useful: HostaWorks

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:54AM
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WOW Steve, Bernd and Dan , these are better then I would ever hope for. Some are the size I nursed from an early purchase Myrle and I got very early in the spring and had to nurse them from very tiny eyes until they were large enough to set out into the garden when the final frost was done. I had a makeshift greenhouse on my front deck, lights and plastic covering. That was so great but can just imagine growing your own tiny babies. Do you have any progress pictures of their growth through the winter? After seeing this, I got one container sprinkled with seeds and sitting in a warm place. I have containers organized, soil sterilized and extra waiting.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:19PM
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Great info. Thank you so much! We've had a hard freeze here & I'm dreading the long winter so I guess I was getting a little anxious.

I'm wondering if I could impose on some of you experienced hands on helping me make a shopping list of seeds later when we can see what's available? I love the bluish streakers. I realize that I'm going to get mostly solids but I'm at a loss as to what to look for for the potential to get some streakers.

Also, what several hostas that I should have planted so that I can try my hand at doing my own crosses?

I do have some experience starting seeds...annuals like impatiens, vinca, peppers & tomatoes. I think those are all pretty easy to start, though. Hopefully, hostas aren't 'difficult'.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Have a few hosta seeds planted. A person has to plant when it works for them. I plant early as we travel to family during the holidays.

I like to have the seedlings to a size that the seedlings dont need to much more than just watering and can fend for themselves. We are lucky to have an unheated greenhouse in which the seedlings will go into late March (approx date).

Here is a photo of what my seedlings look like Jan 9, 12.


Thinking the Hosta Seed Growers Forum is going to be heading up a seed auction within the next month or so. Will put up a link when this happens.

Happy hosta seed cleaning and planting/growing! Hosta Seed Growing is a fun winter hobby :)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Dan's yellow's and blues always amaze me! Love em !!!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:04PM
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bernd ny zone5

You also will get necessary exercise over winter running to your seed setup several times a day to see if another seed has sprouted or a seedling has another leaf.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Here it is one month later and I have a tray of misc. seed with one tiny leaf. I also planted June and El Nino separate in another container about 2 weeks ago and I see a few tiny tiny green sprouts but so far not many. This is fun to see what they may look like when they get larger.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Hello Fellow Seed junkies. Started these (Elegans) back in Late September as I just had to plant something.

They are growing....slowly..... under T5 lights in the basement.

Not sure what I'll do with them all, hopefully sell a few at my backyard plant sale or trade for some others.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 11:28AM
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bernd ny zone5

I started mine yesterday. I used seed packs I had in the freezer from last January, had received them from Mr. Hosta at LotG hosta farm. I planted open pollinated seeds of the streaker Hostas 'Topo Giglio', 'Dorothy Benedict', 'Fickle Blue Genes' and 'Blue Lightning' into 48 cells of a seed flat. In 2 weeks at 78 degrees F I should see some leaves too, will place them under lights then.
This year I am 2 months earlier than last winter when I started them in January. Streakers have less chlorophyll and will grow slower than others.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Welcome Mike. You sure started early. Seems like you are going to need a lot more room by the time these guys are able to be placed outside. That's probably late April early May for you. Here's my favorite seedling I grew last winter.

From which plants did you harvest the seeds? Are these all bee pollinated seeds or did you make the crosses yourself? Below is a link to another forum for discussing Hosta seed growing. BTW, there is going to be a seed auction on the Hosta Library site starting on Saturday. What? You don't know about the Library? Go to www.hostalibrary.org


Here is a link that might be useful: Hosta Seed Growers forum

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


your lights need to be about one inch from those tiny plants.. for vigor ... though i presume you moved them for a pic ...

and if you had sterilized your media.. you MIGHT have avoided the algae .. in worse case.. it can kill the babes ... but they will be potted up into 6 oz solo cups at 4 leaf stage.. so sterilize that media ...

also.. that is a nice POTTING media you have there..

there is finer ground media.. for SEED starting ...

and the way it looks like media is sticking to the sides.. above the water line.. as in it looks like Noah's flood came thru.. is there drainage in the bottom of your tray ... if not.. next spring.. save some cell packs.. to use above the water holding tray..

obviously you have success.. just making notes to go to the next level ... if you wish ...

also.. some bottom heat.. might help them grow faster.. my furnace kicks down to 64 at night.. and that is not seed growing temps ... so if you have a heat mat .. and ran it.. at night.. it might make them grow faster ... presuming the furnace brings up the house temp during the day ... all complicated if you are doing this in a cold basement ....

the variables: light .. water.. heat/temp ... and operating room cleanliness ... see link ...


Here is a link that might be useful: sterilizing media in microwave or oven ... in the oven ... i used a dollar store turkey pan covered in alum foil .... with one hole in the foil.. and when it steamed .. it was done ... leave covered for a few days ... unless you want the whole house to smell of damp warm media ... i would like such.. but wifey might not ...

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 12:33PM
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I just grabbed a handful of ripe seed pods from the Elegans hosta I had in the garden right side of picture). I expect them to be close to the parent, no streakers, all polinated from natures workers so who knows. I've got plenty of room so no worries there. Just built a 10X18 hoop house.

Ken, You right on all counts, I just got lazy with the end of the season and had to plant something. The mold actually occured when I brough them inside from the hoophouse due to the lack of air flow. These seedlings are under 400w T5 quantum grow light, not your run of the mill shop light. I've got the plug tarys, heat mats and all that stuff, I just opted to dump a handfull of seed in a 1020 tray full of moist potting soil to see if they would grow. The seeds were nothing special so I figured why the heck.

I'll post more pictures as my seedling operation ramps up in the next month.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 1:01PM
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