Did you know that you can collect seeds from Hosta plants?


Most of us get our Hosta plants the usual way, we buy them or we ask friends and neighbors for a handout when they are dividing their mature plants. You can purchase Hostas either in potted form in various sizes or you can find them packaged and sold like bulbs. But did you know you can easily gather seeds to plant the fall for successful, healthy plants?

Here is how:

After the Hosta has flowered and pollinated by our friend the bees, look for the seed pods that form directly after the flower dies away. The pods are tubular in shape (they resemble pea pods) and are bright green to dark green in color and hang in clumps like green beans .

Wait for the seed pods to ripen on the stalk, they will turn brown and dry. Eventually the pod will begin to split open along its edge lengthwise. Seeds can fall out at this point but most hang in there. Gather them carefully with a bag or bowl underneath to catch any loose seeds that may fall.

Note: You can cut the flower stalks at any point after the seed pods form. If pods are still green, place the stems in water, to allow pods to ripen indoors. . If they are already brown I just place the cut stalks in a paper bag, when ready, the seeds will just fall from the pods with some gentle shaking of the bag.

Hosta seeds are delicate, paper-like and black in color. I deposit them in small envelopes labeled with the name, variety and date gathered. I then know where I want to plant my new Hostas in the fall.

To plant, I dig a small hole in a semi-shade to full-shade location in my garden where they will get plenty of water and nutrients, I then cover with soil (about two to three inches is all)  pay the soil gently and sing a little song to encourage the new baby(s) to grow and that’s all. By early spring my babies head(s) pop up out of the ground and beg me not to sing anymore! <smiling here>

Happy Gathering!

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Comment by Bonnie Hannum ~ Missouri, USA on October 15, 2011 at 5:44pm

Jennifer P, love your plant name!! ;)   You're correct in saying that you never know what you might get- with variegated, but solids will be true almost all of the time.  Leaf patterns on variegated will be different all of the time, which is why there are so many cultivars out there. 

It's much the same as in breeding dogs for color; solids will produce solids with an occasional speckle/merle, etc. (and that "odd" one would be the one to get tossed or given away if the breeder wants a true patterned animal - or specimen in the plant world) to get more speckles and merles you choose that one out of a litter to breed and that one will produce more patterns and speckles...and on, with breeders keeping the best one of the bunch to breed.

And yep, it's the fun of growing and seeing what you come up with!  

www.perfectperiennials@lycos.com  Has some great information about Hosta seed.


Comment by Jennifer P (hostageek) on October 15, 2011 at 1:47pm
Hosta seeds are easy to collect, but they do not come true from seeds.  The hostas will usually not look anything like the mother plant.  It's still fun to plant them since you never know what you might get.
Comment by Bonnie Hannum ~ Missouri, USA on October 14, 2011 at 3:55am
I do like to sort through the seeds, tho. Something mesmerizing about it, or calming, I guess.  They just don't get it.  There's a "path" to be taken, and it winds.  Guys just like the most direct route there and get it over and done with... haha.
Comment by Bonnie Hannum ~ Missouri, USA on October 14, 2011 at 3:53am
Yeah, mine does too...and sometimes I cave and just throw it all in the dirt and cover it up like a cat in a sand box!!  And guess what?!  It comes up just the same as if I'd separating it all!!!  I hate that "told you so" look! lol.
Comment by margaret woodford on October 14, 2011 at 3:35am
bonnie...seeds are great!!!!!  my husband rolls his eyes when he sees me "methodically" seperating seed from shaft, but i do love it....
Comment by Bonnie Hannum ~ Missouri, USA on October 13, 2011 at 10:21pm

Well said, Anzy.  I think if Catherine plants her seeds in pots to start out with instead of sowing directly into the ground, she will do fine.  I don't know if you've had a chance to check out her page yet, but she has a passion about gardening in polyvinyl tunnels. Her plants are thrivers!  I wish I had her for my next door neighbor; not only is she the fun & life of the party, she's got a great thumb.  (I'd most definitely be stealth-sneaking into her tunnels to pinch some seeds, for sure!) hahahah.   

I myself like to start my seeds (with everything, not just Hosta) in pots for the first year to give them a good start since our weather is so unpredictable here in MO. 

I've had yucca's in a 3 ft. rectangle planter for 2 years that I started from seed that I'm just now transplanting into individual pots.  There are hundreds of the little devils in there all jammed together.  They're looking pretty good out in their next transition home, but I'd like them to be a little sturdier after being so cramped before I put them in their final resting place in the ground.

Aren't  seeds great?!?!?!?!  

Comment by Anzy Faubion on October 13, 2011 at 8:10pm
Catherine you asked if Hostas seeds planted in the fall really come up the following spring. The answer is yes indeed they do. If they don't pop their heads up in spring would worry that they did not survive the planting. Having said this, I will warn you that these plant will be very small the first year and must be protected from exposure to the sun. Be prepared to shade the plant more when them are tiny and new if you have planted the seed somewhere that gets partial sun. Also I still divide my mature Hosta plants for both propagation reasons and for the continued health and beauty of my original plants. I just do not do the divisions as rigorously now because I can also get all the Hostas I need from seed collecting
Comment by Anzy Faubion on October 13, 2011 at 7:54pm
Vicky, I have never lost a Hosta or Hen and Chick (succulent) by letting it flower and go to seed stage. although I have read such things in various books about plants but ignoring the advice has yet to bring me grief. Succulents grown year round outdoors in zones that support each variety are the most vigorous , stubborn and determined plant, I have seen them survive conditions that I was sure would be devastating for them. They are like women, strong, patient survivors who continue to grow more beautiful despite the challenges and  physical trauma they endure. While I do try to cut back the flowers of my succulent and sedum plants whenever possible, Not doing so has never slowed them down in my garden that I can see. Sometimes the rules can be broken without any consequence and sometimes hard lessons are learned , I have had my share of those. Hostas are not as hardy perhaps but I let them bloom and have only lost a couple and I believe that was more to do with overzealous plant divisons that threw my mother plants into shock. That is why I prefer to harvest seed these days. However Hostas need to be divided at some point to continue to thrive and look good.
Comment by margaret woodford on October 13, 2011 at 5:02pm

bonnie...i know, i know....it's one of my favorites...my daughter doesn't share the love of gardening, but her fiance is pretty good...we are going there for Thanksgiving...i might have to do some "liberating"......i will share what i "liberate" with you....(she'll never know)!!!!!

I didn't even realize that hosta were fragrant...and we have soooo many...i quess i just don't have the fragrant type...but now i'm going to pay more attention...and i'm liking the sound of the Plantaginea Grandiflora....i have to go and do some research!!!!!!!

Comment by Bonnie Hannum ~ Missouri, USA on October 13, 2011 at 4:51pm

You were close on the temp number, Vicky; but it's not 40 below zero.... Hostas need to lose their leaves and go into dormancy each year, and need a temperature of under 43 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of at least 30 days although longer and colder is better.  There is a hosta that grows in tropical climates that doesn't need a dormancy period, since it's 'tropical'.

Cath, I'll see what I can do for you with the Giant blue..... ;)  (We could change our names to protect the innocent....)

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