cull j mccalla

((10-21-18) So what do you think about culling your seedlings? What about ‘volunteers’ you might find in your hosta garden?

To many of us who are ‘newbies’ we may have different thoughts then a long-time experienced hosta breeder.

The above Facebook posting that recently appeared on the FB group ‘Growers of Hosta Seeds‘ is quite interesting on the topic of culling streaker seedlings to early. Waiting to make that choice could help you to find a ‘keeper’ that you might have culled in the very early stages.

In an article about culling Josh Spece gives some good information on why you need to cull seedlings:

  • Any seedlings that clearly contradict your goals from the start should be culled
  • Few people have the time or space to grow so many seedlings for any length of time

Many of us newbies would love to have some of those culled seedlings, but often those who have them are reluctant to sell them.  That’s ok it is there choice and they have valid reasons for not wanting to sell.

In the same article Spece says why he prefers not selling those culled seedlings:

  • I would feel guilty giving away a substandard hosta

I do have several seedlings I purchased this year who were going to be culled, to me they are a work of art and enjoy working with them. They were from a breeder I admired and some were seedlings from a hosta I wanted but couldn’t convince the wife to pay that much for the parent plant, these seedlings satisfied that need.

Would you buy (culled) seedlings from some of your favorite breeders, who are well known and respected? How about a (culled) seedling from a well known hosta?

One question that needs to be answered? Hosta genetics are one of the great parts of raising hostas, you self cross a hosta with itself and you still won’t get a hosta that looks like the parent and all of the seedlings don’t even look the same. The hosta you may cull does not have what you were looking for, so you keep the one that does…but when you use the one you kept to cross will it give you the result you were hoping for?  How about teying a culled hosta, who had the same cross as the one you kept, would it give you what you were looking for when you crossed it with other hosta, is that a possibility?

Is there a market to sell your culled hosta…yep, try it.  Those who want one will appreciate the opportunity, it may not be what you want, but that doesn’t make it not worth having for someone else. Breeders who feel bad about selling a subpar hosta, just know it would be a honor for many to have one of your creations.

So why do you think experienced hosta people don’t think to much of a ‘volunteer‘ that shows up in your garden? Many would never consider keeping one and giving it a chance to develop. To a ‘newbie’ it is pretty special.


You do have to admit that a ‘volunteer ‘has one strong attribute, despite not being ‘babied’ under a light and pampered after being planted it has survived in some tough conditions. There has to be some value to that?

I think we all understand why those who do this for a living and concentrate on breeding that special hosta cull what they don’t think will help in the process. Volunteers are special in the way they pop up, not everyone keeps them, but those that do appreciate them.

The world of hosta offers so much to all of us.