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 Big Red Hunting 
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Marshfield, MA
Post Big Red Hunting
For years a number of folks have made great strides in getting more red into hosta petioles and scapes. Moving the color into the leaves has been a more elusive task. Tony Avent has had some success with red into the leaf on one plant, yet he has expressed that he is not satisfied with its vigor/growth attributes. Another challenging aspect of hybridizing for red is getting color all the way up the petioles of very large/tall plants.

I find it interesting that some of the largest plants around have a splash of red at the base of the petiole for example, ‘Sum and Substance’ and ‘Nancy Gill’. And at the same time very few large to giant plants have extensive red all the way up the petioles. There is a short list of medium to medium large plants that exhibit a fair amount of color including ‘Riptide’, ‘Mr. Red Genes’ and ‘Florence Nightingale’ to name a few. My question is three pronged.

•Does the red coloring in hosta cells limit overall plant size, much as limited chlorophyll limits plant size?

•Is there a genetic linkage or factor pairing smaller plant size and propensity for red color?

•Is smaller plant size and colored pets simply a function of the source genetics as many of the species used to introduce red into hostas tend toward small to medium sized plants?

First, I would like to hear your opinions and secondly, for those who have evidence to back up their opinions, how you came to the position you have? For those who do not have hard evidence, fill us in on your logic basis.

Looking forward to reading about your thoughts, theories and experiences with these questions. Here is a scape shot of ‘Florence Nightingale' which stands around twenty two inches.


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Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:40 pm
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 3:11 pm
Posts: 207
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
One other factor to consider is that the late season plants with the most red are usually smaller in size.

With more people using frozen pollen in late season crosses and some using frozen pollen or pull ahead plants in the early season, we might start to see more big red plants in the near future.

The type of red might also come into play as the ruby red seems to be easier to get into bigger plants while the deep red is much harder to get up the petioles.

Just my thoughts and as each seed growing season goes by, the answers may become more evident.

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Jeff Moore


Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:27 pm
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Marshfield, MA
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
An astute observation, Jeff. I hope you are right and suspect you may be. By your point I deduce that you subscribe to the theory that current generally smaller size of plants with red petioles may simply be a function of the source genetics as many of the species used to introduce red into hostas tend toward small to medium sized plants.

Curious if any readers are actually freezing pollen for the purpose of testing Jeff's hypothesis or a similar theory of your own? I am saving 'red' pollen and will hopefully help to test this out by crossing with some much larger early plants in 2012. Are others up for this? Are others besides Jeff freezing late blooming pollen too?

We ought to consider having a control group small plants (similar in size to the red pollen donor) that do not exhibit red. This will allow us to see if the crosses to the same large plant with both reds and non-red result in plants that are of similar size. Of course, we may find the all green plants will be larger than those with red. If so then something else may be going on with the color red. This is getting fun. Rick


Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:08 am
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Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:03 pm
Posts: 173
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
Rick, great topic !

When I started down the red/purple recurrent selection track in order to give the hypothesis of red being an additive trait from multiple alleles a try, I looked at which species seem to be the original starting points for this trait.

Here's my findings and see that they are indeed all medium-sized plants:

pycnophylla - size med - 19 x 60 (spreading mound) - key plants from this parent that I've used are: Almost / Riptide / Peacock Strut

kikutii - size med - 16-24 x 42-48 with somewhat narrow leaves

yingeri - size med - 19 x 38

longipes - size med - 10 x 20

rupifraga - size med - 10 x 28 (Rhapsody in Blue / Raspberry Sorbet)

For one of the larger ones that I have -Peacock Strut - it is a Riptide type and is estimated to be a hybrid between pycnophylla and H. sieboldiana. In this case, the pollen parent may have added some extra size to the equation or perhaps we have some hybrid vigor being displayed.

We have shown that the red/purple scape/petiole traits can be transferred via either pollen or pod parent so probably only a matter of the right hybrid cross with a giant pod parent (which I contend controls the overall size of the seedlings more so than the paternal parent) to get your final result. If this doesn't work outright, perhaps there is an epistatic relationship which is inhibiting the expression of red in the giant types. Something to test.


Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:21 pm
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:40 am
Posts: 99
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
Rick, I don't know and at this point have no opinions but it's a great topic and since I bought both Katsuragawa Beni and Purple Heart this summer and they are both blooming this week, I have been putting the pollen of both in the freezer as not much else is blooming. This is a first for me to freeze pollen.
If there's enough time for the pods to develop, both KB and PH are setting pods.

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Carol O


Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:33 am
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Marshfield, MA
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
Yes, COB....freezing pollen can take on a tad more disipline, but the opportunities for new and unusual crosses are really expanded. I hope it works out nicely for you. And Roger, are you also up for a test where pollen from two near identical sized plants, using both a non-red pet and a red pet, and both put on a very large pod parent? The point to test for is to confirm that the intermediate size of the seedlings is the same or leans toward smaller with the red pet pollen donor?

Bill Meyers' 'Blueberry Muffin' is a good more recent example of the result of pollen from a small to medium late bloomer, 'Fall Bouquet' being used on 'Frances Williams', a very large early bloomer. Coming in eventually at 24" tall this one is in the large category and exhibits intermediate bloom timing and has red speckled petioles most to all the way up.

I have used 'Blueberry Muffins' with some 'reds' like Athur Wrede's 'Mr. Jack' and have seen the blues pass along as well as more saturated red in the petioles. What is still an unkown is the plant height of this group of seedlings. My guess is that they will be intermediate between the two parents, but I am hoping a 'Frances Williams' sized one might just pop up with good red on the pets. OK...I did say hoping. Rick


Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:33 am
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:40 am
Posts: 99
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
A big yellow (don't know what it is) I have is beginning to bloom again. It is being hit with the Katsuragawa Beni pollen.

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Carol O


Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:07 pm
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Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:03 pm
Posts: 173
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
Rick, I'll hold off on committing to that test sceniaro for now as my red trait plants bloom much later than the larger hostas. So far, I've not tried the frozen pollen approach just yet and cannot think of the right plants that would overlap here to pull that particular experiment off. COB, hopefully your unnamed large yellow will still set viable seeds before the first frost hits.

Roger


Last edited by roger on Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:12 pm
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Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:19 pm
Posts: 17
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
I haven't formed any opinions yet, but I have some seeds from Sutter's Mill, Queen of the Seas and Empress Wu from crosses I made with reds this year. The Empress Wu x One Man's Treasure seeds look the best , so I'm hoping Roger's assertion that the pod parent controls the size is correct. I also have the reverse crosses as well, so we'll see what I end up with. I'm hoping I have some more insight into this topic after this growing season.

Dan


Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:33 am
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:22 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Marshfield, MA
Post Re: Big Red Hunting
Great thoughts and interesting hybridizing going on surrounding this topic. COB...it will be curious to see if the seedling from your big yellow and KBeni will result in intermediate sized plants, hopefully with some good red on the pets and into the laf base. Keep us posted to let us know if the seedlings end up being closer in size to one parent or the other and whether or not they have red...We will get some better insights on this with more of these kinds of crosses.

Roger, while freezing pollen may seem like an extreme thing to do, it is not really very difficult...tedious, but not hard. Maybe we can talk one Mr Moore into sharing on a new thread his approach to freezing pollen and using it the following season.

Dan, with careful observation, you may be in the best position to bring this discussion forward after you see what these seedlings do that you will be growing this winter. You may get some good insights on both how red correlates to small size or not, and also you may be able to test out Roger's theory that the maternal side of a cross controlling size more than paternal genes...Keep us posted...this could take a while, but you are in an excellent postion to give us some anecdotal observations. Rick


Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:24 am
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