hosta cultivars are being introduced all the time. Basically,
they come from one of two sources. Many are hybrids which are
the result of the combination of genetic materials through
sexual reproduction i.e. seeds. Either by nature (bees) or through the
efforts of hybridizers (humans), pollen is applied to the pistil
resulting in seeds that carry a new combination of genetic
other major source is through what are called "sports". For a
variety of reasons, hostas will generate new buds that produce
divisions that have different characteristics from the rest of the
mother plant. This is how many (but not all) of the valued
variegated cultivars have their origins.
In the distant past, all sports occurred spontaneously in the
garden or nursery. "Sport fishing" which involved finding these
new hostas was a common activity. In recent decades, tissue
culture (TC) propagation has resulted in a huge increase of
sports from which to choose special plants for introduction. TC
produces large numbers of clones in a short period of time plus
certain growth hormones and other chemicals used in the process
also trigger a higher than usual occurrence of sports.
Certain species or cultivars have
proven to be especially prolific in producing either seedlings
or sports or both. These plants show up in the ancestry of a
large number of new hosta cultivars.
Listed in alphabetical order are some of the
species or cultivars that have played a role in developing
several new cultivars introduced in the past few decades. Also
included are plants of uncertain background which are considered
a particular "type". For instance, many large size blue-green hostas are considered "H.
'Sieboldiana' -type" even if their exact heritage has not
[**As always, these
lists comprise a representative sample but do not by any means
include all hostas used in developing new cultivars.]