If you have a garden full of beautiful hostas or even one spectacular plant you may be wondering if you could reproduce that plant from seed. Yes they can be produced from seed, although its not the easiest way to get new hostas. The easiest way to propagate hostas is through division- dividing a mature plant into several smaller ones. Hosta rarely grow from cuttings, although a piece of the plant with a bit of the basal area of the crown may grow under ideal conditions. But producing hostas from seed is the way many new varieties are produced.
If you want a hosta plant exactly like the plant you have, planting the seeds probably won’t get you what you want. Hosta rarely come true from seeds. But if you like experimenting you can plant hosta seeds and see what you come up with. Who knows? It could be something great. Here’s the way to grow hosta from seed.
Making hosta seed
Most hostas flower, even though most people today grow them for their foliage. You can simply wait for nature’s helpers, the bees, to pollinate your hosta plants and then collect the seed pods that form. Different types of hosta flower at different times so even in a mixed group of hosta some plants won’t be able to cross. Even if all the hosta plants nearby are the same variety however, the plants grown from seed they produce will probably not look exactly like the parent plants.
You can also distribute pollen from one plant to another with a small paint brush if you want to cross certain plants. Pollen is the yellow dust like substance found inside a hosta flower. Rub your clean paint brush on it then take the brush to the plant you want to be the female parent and brush the pollen on the stigma. The stigma is usually in the center of the flower. It looks like a fleshy stem with a flat, sticky top. You should tie a tag on the flower stem with what plants you crossed written on it. If you want to be really professional you will also cover the pollinated flower with a small paper bag for a few days so bees can’t add pollen from other hosta.
Crossing green hosta and green variegated hosta usually produce 100% green plants. Blue and gold hosta and crosses of such may produce a small percentage of blue or gold plants. Crossing white variegated hosta may produce hosta with all white leaves, which will die shortly, as they can’t produce food.
Collecting hosta seed
After the hosta flowers it may produce seed pods, although some people trim the flower stems off right after flowering and if you do this you won’t see any seed pods. Some hostas also do not produce seed pods because they are sterile.
Wait until the seed pods are dark brown and dry. Don’t wait too long or the pods will split and the tiny seeds will scatter. Collect the pods and shake them in a bag to split the pods and release the seed. When the pods are almost dry you can cut off the flower stem and put it in a brown paper bag to finish drying and to collect any spilled seeds. Be ready to plant the seeds soon after they fall. Hosta seed has a lower germination rate than most plants and fresh seed germinates better than stored seed.
Starting hosta seed
Use only sterile seed starting medium in clean pots or flats to start the seed. Moisten the medium and fill the containers. Sprinkle the tiny hosta seeds over the moist medium and press lightly into the soil. You can spread the seed thickly because of the low germination rate. Mist the medium and seeds and cover flats and pots with a plastic bag or top.
Hostas germinate best with warm soil and cool air conditions, rather like fall conditions. Placing flats on the warm ground in a semi-shady spot outside can work as well as sitting the containers on a seed starting heat matt in a cool room. The trick is to get the plants up and growing before winter weather and then getting them to over winter successfully. If the plants have a good set of leaves started and can be planted outside before a hard frost to develop a good root system in the ground , they can be covered with mulch and will probably over winter well.
If the plants aren’t very developed before a hard frost it may be better to keep them in containers and over winter them somewhere just above freezing, such as an unheated garage or porch. They’ll need at least some light and careful watering so they don’t get too wet or dry out. Don’t try to grow them on a window sill in a warm room although a cool greenhouse can work. Plant them outside again when the hosta in the garden have a few leaves emerged.
All new hosta varieties have to come from somewhere so if at first you don’t succeed keep plugging away. Discard the plants you don’t like or give them to friends. It can be a fun hobby that may pay off big if you produce something unusual.
Here are some additional articles you may want to read.
How to grow Jacobs Ladder
How to help save the Monarch Butterfly
Making a woodland garden.