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Hostas, like most plants, reproduce in two ways. Sexual reproduction involves the combination of pollen and egg to produce seeds while asexual reproduction occurs when "spontaneous" changes occur in the tissue of the plant causing it to change traits on some parts of the mother plant. Sexual reproduction results in seeds and seedlings while the other form produces what are called "sports". Over time, certain hostas have been used often in hybridizing programs to produce new cultivars while other hostas are noted for the production of sports. A few have produced new introductions by both methods.

We have over 13,300 hosta names in our database representing around 9,000 to 10,000 different plants. Many are listed as parentage "unknown" meaning that nobody kept records of the ancestry of that plant. For a large number of open-pollinated seedlings, only the mother i.e. pod parent has been identified. The mother plant of most sports is commonly listed regardless of whether it was found in the garden or generated in the tissue culture process of propagation.

As with most things associated with hostas, there is a bit of confusion involved in determining the background of many cultivars. Hostas listed below have been named as either the mother (pod parent or originator of the sport) or father (pollen parent) or has been noted as being a plant in the "background" of the cultivar. We have also included plants that are listed only as a certain "type" such as an H. 'Sieboldiana'-type.

Perhaps the most uncertain aspect of this topic is the origin of all those "big blue" or, rather, blue-green hostas. I heard a Registrar say one time that the vast majority of these types of hostas come from H. 'Elegans' and H. 'Sieboldiana'. Historically, these names have been used interchangeably so we may not know if the ancestor is actually H. 'Sieboldiana' which was once considered a separate species or its primary offspring, H. 'Elegans'.  H. 'Tokudama' also may come into the mix on many of these plants.

Listed in this column are hostas found in basically two ways. One is that they were mentioned while trying to identify a cultivar with the general statement that a certain plant was in its "background".

The other is when a complex cross such as [('Sagae' × 'Sieboldiana') × ('Loyalist' × 'Neptune')] × ('Mira' × 'Surfboard') is listed as the "parents" of a cultivar. These plants are actually the grandparents and great grandparents. The actual parents have not been named in this instance so these plants would be listed as background hostas. We have NOT gone back into the ancestry of each hosta to determine its full lineage...at least not so far.


Listed below are the number of seedlings and sports somehow related to each cultivar or species named. We have limited it to the 144 cultivars or species which show 10 or more offspring in the Hosta Helper database.

'

1 'Sieboldiana' 7723 12 237 349 157
2 'Elegans' 54 41 28 171 294 28
3 'Dorothy Benedict' 146 15 14 14 189

0

4 'Tardiflora' 11 9 8 160 188 0
5 Hosta longipes 39 7 50 59 155 6
6 Hosta montana 32 24 45 36 137 22
7 Hosta venusta 54 24 15 41 134 14
8 'Sum and Substance' 52 10 62 2 126 0
9 'Tokudama' 43 20 8 26 123 49
10 Hosta pycnophylla 39 56 1 12 108 0
11 'Frances Williams' 42 29 27 9 107 4
 

1 Hosta sieboldii 18 4 20 55 97 15
2 Hosta hypoleuca 26 47 4 10 97 1
3 'Halcyon' 22 33 39 2 96 1
4 'Sagae' 40 22 17 6 91 0
 

1

'Neat Splash' 60 9 3 6 84 0
 

1 Hosta plantaginea 15 41 13 10 79 1
2 'Sea Prize' 68 2 2 2 76 0
3 'August Moon' 22 4 45 3 77 0
4 Hosta ventricosa 25 19 12 15 71 2
5 Hosta nakaiana 47 4 4 16 71 2
 

1 'Galaxy' 54 6 6 2 68 0
2 'Gold Regal' 33 12 20 3 68 0
3 'William Lachman' 58 1 4 5 68 0
4 Hosta yingeri 21 19 1 19 60 0
 

1 'Beatrice' 29 6 7 12 54 0
2 'Elatior' 13 22 4 13 52 2
3 'Striptease' 0 0 49 1 50 0
 
1 Hosta kikutii 15 7 8 19 49 1
2 'Gold Standard' 1 1 46 0 48 0
3 'Fascination' 36 5 4 2 47 0
4 'Flamboyant' 30 8 3 4 45 0
5 'Maekawa' 3 33 1 7 44 0
6 'Pin Stripe Sister' 39 0 3 1 43 0
7 'Tokudama Aureonebulosa' 17 13 8 3 41 0
8 'Blue Mouse Ears' 4 0 28 9 41 0
9 'Swoosh' 17 3 1 19 40 0
10 'Sun Power' 8 3 22 7 40 0
11 'Blue Angel' 3 4 31 2 40 0
 
1 'Invincible' 18 13 5 3 39 0
2 'Fortunei Hyacinthina' 1 1 35 1 38 0
3 Hosta longissima 4 1 18 15 38 0
4 'Krossa Regal' 2 5 30 0 37 0
5 'Mikawa-no-yuki' 21 13 0 3 37 0
6 Hosta rectifolia 14 1 12 10 37 0
7 'Shining Tot' 8 24 0 4 36 0
8 'Elvis Lives' 10 20 1 5 36 0
9 'Breeder's Choice' 22 3 5 5 35 0
10 'June' 5 9 21 0 35 0
11 'Dorset Blue' 10 18 3 3 34 0
12 'Urajiro Hachijo' 14 0 0 20 34 0
13 Hosta rupifraga 15 7 4 8 34 0
14 'Fragrant Bouquet' 9 5 17 1 32 0
15 'Love Pat' 5 10 12 5 32 0
16 'One Man's Treasure' 18 7 2 5 32 0
17 'Fudge Ripple' 9 4 0 8 31 0
18 'Empress Wu' 11 13 7 0 31 0
19 'Grand Slam' 14 0 0 16 30 0
20 'Francee' 4 1 25 0 30 1
 
1 'Ginko Craig' 20 3 4 2 29  
2 'Undulata' 9 1 17 2 29  
3 Hosta montana macrophylla 6 15 0 8 29  
4 'Blue Moon' 7 17 2 3 29  
5 'Niagara Falls' 7 5 5 12 29  
6 'Blue Cadet' 14 6 7 1 28  
7 'Aureomarginata', H. montana 14 9 3 2 28  
8 'Piedmont Gold' 3 9 15 0 27  
9 'Whirlwind' 1 0 25 0 26  
10 Hosta nigrescens 11 2 4 9 26  
11 'Christmas Tree' 13 3 8 1 25  
12 'Kabitan' 17 4 3 1 25  
13 'Paul's Glory' 7 2 16 0 25  
14 'Fortunei' 5 3 17 24 25  
15 'Hadspen Blue' 9 4 12 0 25  
16 'Blue Umbrellas' 8 7 9 0 24  
17 Hosta kiyosumiensis 13 2 9 0 24  
18 'Royal Standard' 3 2 19 0 24  
19 'Christmas Tree Gala' 21 0 1 2 24  
20 'Big John' 7 9 1 6 23  
21 'Great Expectations' 8 0 15 0 23  
22 'Zany Janie' 22 0 1 0 23  
23 'Yellow Splash' 14 4 4 1 23  
24 'Gold Edger' 1 0 19 2 22  
25 'Komodo Dragon' 13 2 4 3 22  
26 Hosta longipes hypoglauca 12 7 0 3 22  
27 'Aspen Gold' 8 5 8 0 21  
28 'Little Aurora' 3 4 14 0 21  
29 'High Noon' 8 3 4 6 21  
30 'Riptide' 9 11 0 1 21  
31 'Golden Tiara' 0 2 18 1 21  
32 'Blue Belly' 0 12 0 9 21  
33 'Maya Kingsnake' 11 9 0 0 20  
34 'Atom Smasher' 14 2 0 4 20  
35 'Little Wonder' 14 0 3 3 20  
36 Hosta gracillima 7 3 4 6 20  
37 'Summer Music' 1 1 18 0 20  
 
1 'Lancifolia' 7 2 10 0 19  
2 'Green Piecrust' 11 6 1 1 19  
3 'Tequila Sunrise' 10 8 0 1 19  

4

'Color Fantasy' 12 0 0 7 19  
5 'Designer Genes' 3 6 9 1 19  
6 'Marilyn Monroe' 13 1 4 0 18  
7 'Dorset Clown' 8 1 9 0 18  

8

Hosta kikutii caput-avis 6 5 5 2 18  
9 'Captain Kirk' 3 1 13 1 18  
10 'Spritzer' 6 8 3 0 17  
11 'Hearts and Flowers' 16 0 1 0 17  
12 'Guacamole' 1 0 15 1 17  
13 'Gold Drop' 4 0 12 1 17  
14 'Purple Verticulated Elf' 3 7 1 6 17  
15 'Cosmic Hippie' 6 5 0 6 17  
16 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd' 4 8 4 1 17  
17 'Electrum Stater' 8 0 8 0 16  
18 'Blue Dimples' 12 4 0 0 16  
19 'Azure Snow' 7 7 1 1 16  
20 'Fortunei Aureomarginata' 0 2 12 2 16  
21 'Fragrant Blue' 6 0 8 2 16  
22 'Golden Waffles' 7 7 0 2 16  
23 'Crispula' 11 0 4 1 16  
24 'Justice' 11 2 2 1 16  
25 'High Fat Cream' 4 6 5 1 16  
26 'Patriot' 0 1 15 0 16  
27 Hosta capitata 6 1 5 4 16  
28 'Zounds' 4 1 7 4 16  
29 'Chōkō Nishiki' 8 0 8 0 16  
30 'Sea Gulf Stream' 6 8 1 0 15  
31 'Uncle Albert' 11 4 0 0 15  
32 'Holly's Honey' 9 6 0 0 15  
33 'Abiqua Recluse' 3 1 9 2 15  
34 'Queen of the Seas' 3 7 1 4 15  
35 'Blue Vision' 3 8 2 2 15  
36 'Subcrocea' 8 3 2 2 15  
37 'Outrageous' 12 0 2 1 15  
38 'King Tut' 5 2 6 1 14  
39 'Salute' 7 4 0 3 14  
40 'Big Daddy' 3 6 4 1 14  
41 'White Vision' 13 0 0 0 13  
42 'Raspberry Sorbet' 4 1 5 2 12  
43 'Cinnamon Sticks' 12 0 0 0 12  
44 'Astral Bliss' 3 3 0 6 12  
45 'Wide Brim' 2 1 9 0 12  
46 'Vanilla Cream' 4 0 7 0 11  
47 'Don Stevens' 3 1 7 0 11  
48 'Donahue Piecrust' 6 4 1 4 11  
49 'Crepe Suzette' 9 2 0 0 11  
50 'Pin Stripe' 10 0 1 0 11  
51 'Candy Dish' (Summers) 9 1 0 0 10  
               

H. 'Tardiflora', 'Sieboldiana' and 'Elegans' have been included in the Genetic Background of 159 hostas which are either part of the Tardiana Group of hostas or are noted as being a "Tardiana-Type" plant which, to us, indicates that the person giving this designation felt that one of the original Tardianas was in the background.

H. 'Fortunei' was once thought to be a species but was changed to cultivar status in 1991. There are many, many cultivars which had their name changed from for example, H. fortunei 'Gigantea' to H. 'Fortunei Gigantea' and these plants were often used as parent plants for others which means that H. 'Fortunei' would be in the Genetic Background of all of these plants.

H. 'Tokudama' was once thought to be a species but was changed to cultivar status in 1991. There are many, many cultivars which had their name changed from for example, H. tokudama 'Aureonebulosa' to H. 'Tokudama Aureonebulosa' and these plants were often used as parent plants for others which means that H. 'Tokudama' would be in the Genetic Background of all of these plants.

According to an address we heard by a former Hosta Registrar, the largest single group of hostas that have been registered would fall into the "large, blue-green" category. So, when you look into their background, the most common plants you find are H. 'Sieboldiana' and H. 'Elegans' which was traditionally called H. sieboldiana 'Elegans'.

This has resulted in a ton of confusion over exactly which of the two plants is in the background of hundreds of named, large size, blue-green hostas. We have used the statements found in various reference books, The Hosta Journal and online resources to place plants in the various groupings. However, there are many citations indicating that nobody really knows for sure and it may not make any difference since 'Elegans' has 'Sieboldiana' in its background. So, 'Siebodiana' is in the background of all of these plants but 'Elegans' may have been mistaken for its parent in some cases.

   

 
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