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Archive for the ‘Gardening tips’ Category

Be sure to check the www.HostasDirect.com newletter later this week for a special offer guaranteed to save you money AND a contest. I love winning stuff almost as much as I love snapping pictures of my hostas.

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The yellow in a hosta is a genetic absence of chlorophyll, which makes the leaves appear different shades of yellow. As yellow hostas contain fewer food-producing chloroplasts, annual fertilizing is important.  (Note: Around 2003, the American Hosta Society changed its show terminology from “gold-leafed” to “yellow-leafed.”  Chartreuse hostas are considered to be in the green category.)

Yellow Hostas Need More Sun

As a general rule, a yellow hosta needs to be planted in a sunnier location to keep its color vibrant.  The yellow color may fade to green without at least two hours of full sun daily. Some glossy, chartreuse hostas change to yellow when exposed to more light, like H. ‘Sum and Substance.’ Yellow or yellow-centered hostas are often sun-resistant.

The temperature of a full-sun area can vary by the time of day and by your location (southern versus northern United States, high altitude versus low altitude).  Even though yellow hostas need some sun exposure, any hosta in full sun will need to be watered frequently.  Overhead watering during the middle of the day can cause water droplets to magnify the sun’s rays and burn the leaves.  Hostas grown in full sun will often turn to a lighter color and the leaves can elongate.  Yellow hostas are most vulnerable to sun damage early in the season when the leaves are expanding.  This is when trees have not gotten all of their leaves back yet.

Using Yellow Hostas in the Garden

Yellow hostas add color, brightness and contrast to the garden.  Their luminescent leaves glow at dusk, dawn or on rainy or overcast days.   Planting next to green or blue foliage makes all of the different colors stand out.  However, over-planting yellow hostas in a blue or green border can produce a spotty effect

Some Yellow Hostas

August Moon, Bitsy Gold, Cheatin’ Heart, Cherry Tart, Dawn’s Early Light, Daybreak, Dragon Tails, Faith, Fan Dance, Fat Cat, Fire Island, Golden Friendship, Golden Scepter, Golden Sculpture, Harriette Ward, Inniswood, Jaz, Jimmy Crack Corn, Key West, King Tut, Lemon Frost, Little Aurora, Maui Buttercups, May, Midas Touch, On Stage, Orange Marmalade, Paradigm, Paul’s Glory, Pee Dee Gold Flash, Piedmont Gold, Rosedale Golden Goose, Solar Flare, Stained Glass, Stardust, Stitch in Time, Sum and Substance, Summer Lovin, Sun Power, Teeny-weeny Bikini, Templar Gold, Thai Brass, Tortilla Chip, World Cup, Yesterday’s Memories, Zounds.

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Millions of hosta lovers grow hostas under trees, but there are some things to consider.

Every variety of tree grows differently.  Some trees’ roots grow near or above the soil surface and some grow further into the ground.  Some trees are sensitive to soil changes, while others are not.   Keep in mind that a tree’s roots often extend out to the edge of the tree’s crown (leaf growth) of the tree.

The positives:

  • Hostas by trees may get morning sun, late afternoon sun, or filtered light, all of which are ideal. They are more likely to be protected from the intense overhead sun from about noon to 4:30.
  • Hostas may get some hail protection.
  • You can reduce or eliminate the need for weeding or cutting grass around a tree.
  • The base of your tree will look more attractive.

The negatives:

  • Competition for moisture and nutrients—the soil may already be partially depleted, and tree roots can wrap around hosta roots.
  • It may be difficult to dig a hole due to dense tree roots.   (Our garden trowel can help.)
  • Hostas under trees may not get enough light.  Hostas do need some light!   For less light, select a dark green or blue hosta as these varieties have more chlorophyll.

Solutions:

  • Some hosta lovers plant their hostas in containers in the ground to protect the hosta from tree roots.   The container must allow for adequate growth of the hosta’s rhizomes (roots) and have good drainage.  About twice a year, turn the container about 120 degrees in case any tree roots are getting into the drainage holes.   You can also cut out the bottom of the pot.
  • Provide extra water and fertilizer.

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Shade-tolerant Perennials

* Astilbe
* Meadow Rue
* Ferns
* Goatsbeards
* Bugbanes
* Epimediums
* Soloman’s seals
* Ligularias
* Cimicifiga
* Corydalis
* Heucheras
* Lamium
* Ajuga
* Lungworts
* Hepatica
* Thalictrum
* Brunnera
* Columbines
* Toadlily
* Bleeding heart
* Jack in the pulpit
* Primula
* Trollius

Shade-tolerant Annuals

* Impatients
* Nicotiana
* Browallia
* Torenia
* Coleus

Partial sun Perennials

* Daylilies
* Martagon lilies

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Killing diseases on your garden tools

Garden tools and plants are expensive.   It is important you take care of both and try not to get plant materials that are infected in your garden in the first place!

One of the most, if not the most famous botanist in the world regarding shade perennials and in particular hostas is W. George Schmid.    He has authored such scholarly books as, “The Genus Hosta” and “Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials” and is a frequent contributor to “The Hosta Journal” and other scholarly works.    I asked George recently if he had seen any studies regarding how long to disinfect garden tools, which is increasingly important to prevent the spread of foliar nematodes and other garden diseases.   Here is what George wrote:

“To really disinfect your equipment, it must be very thorough. Brand new tools you can dip, but most of have those old, well used tools.  For those, use 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 part clean water solution.  It is important to wash the dirt off your equipment prior to soaking your equipment in this solution for at least 10 minutes to ensure that all microbial agents are killed.

Soaking in either a 1-to-5 solution of chlorine bleach or a full-strength Lysol or Pine-Sol brought the most consistent protection, as shown in tests conducted by UGA.  Just dipping the blade quickly often did not disinfect properly.  Chlorine bleach generally did a better job for quick dips, although none of the disinfectants proved 100% effective when using quick dips.  So soaking is recommended in all cases.  Tools have sometimes microscopic scratches that can contain air bubbles, which will prevent contact with the solution.  Soaking overnight is most effective.

Although chlorine bleach is the least expensive and generally most effective disinfectant, bleach does corrode tools when used frequently.  It also can splash up and ruin clothes. Lysol caused the least damage to clothes and tools.”

Tom Carlson, owner of this blog and of HostasDirect and IDealGardenMarker adds, “If you leave your tools in these solutions too long you will get corrosion, and possibly lots of corrosion.   So, the trick is to soak as long as needed but not much more.    Then, wash the tools with water and wipe it dry or let it air dry.   Plain water will rust tools very fast as well.    There is one preventative solution.   I know this sounds like a commercial but we have found our plated Hosta Trowels that we sell on our web site do not corrode and they work fantastic for any type of gardening – in particular hostas.    The plating keep any steel from being exposed to the chemicals or water.


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