Hostas are seed bearing plants. Seeds, of course, are generally the result of pollen from one plant being transported to the pistil of another plant (except in those plants that readily self-pollinate). This results in seeds and seedlings which are a combination of the genetic material of the two plants.

The three chambers of the ovaries will develop into a three chambered seed pod. Each section will have two rows of flat, single winged seeds. Hosta species and cultivars vary widely in their ability to set seed. Some cultivars will be covered with seed pods while others will rarely, if ever set any seed. Certain hosta hybrid cultivars are sterile and, therefore, will never set seeds at all.

Hostas fall into one of two basic categories in terms of their ability to produce seeds...either they do or they don't. If they do produce seeds, they can be self-pollinated or open-pollinated. In addition, those seeds may be viable or non-viable (in some cases the viability is unknown). See below for more detail on each type.

Most hostas will produce seeds capable of germinating and growing a new plant. Of course, hybridizers take advantage of this fact to manually take the pollen (male flower) from one plant and move it to the pistil (female flower) of another plant. Of course, just because a hosta bears seeds does not automatically mean that they are viable i.e. able to germinate. 

Hostas designated this way in our lists are plants where hybridizers have applied the pollen to the pistil of the same plant by hand. They kept records of their actions so that they know that the resulting seeds have only the genetic material of a single plant.

In nature and in the cultivated hosta garden, bees do most of the pollinating. They move randomly from plant to plant so that the pollen parent (father) can not be known by the gardener. Hybrid plants that do not have a pollen parent identified are considered to be open-pollinated so half of its genetic background is unknown.

Some hostas, especially those hybrids that resulted from a cross pollination (i.e. not sports) are sometimes sterile. They will produce flowers but will not produce seeds at the end of the season. The scapes of these plants, therefore, will not bear seed pods.

Hostas listed in this category are those for which someone has successfully germinated seeds to produce new plants.

On many hosta registration forms, the comment is made that the new cultivar sets seeds but its viability is unknown. All this means is that nobody has documented the successful germination of them.

Occasionally, the plant will produce seeds but they do not have the ability to germinate and produce a seedling.

Hosta seeds are ready to plant once they are ripe in the seed pod. Some perennials need to have their seeds treated by either scarification or stratification but hosta seeds need neither. Instead, if you want to get them off to a fast start, you can plant them under fluorescent lights in your basement and watch them grow through the winter. If you need to wait to plant them, dry seeds may be kept in a freezer until needed.

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