Buying hostas from a careless nursery

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Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby LiquidFeet » Jun 22, 2016 6:33 pm

Today I did something I promised myself I'd never do.

I bought two "Wheee!" hostas from a nursery that has been selling HVX-infected hostas. I bought them because they were labelled "Proven Winners" in the hope that the label means the growers are held to a high standard and that they must check for HVX.

I know the buyer gets hostas from different growers. Several years ago I informed the buyer about the HVX in a few of her plants, and I showed her which hostas were infected. I suggested strongly to the buyer that she not purchase hostas from growers who send her infected hostas. I think it's only one grower, but I'm not sure. She could easily check if she chose to, as I identified which hostas were sick. A week or so later I came back to see if the sick hostas were gone; the infected plants were still out on the tables for sale.

This year there are still infected hostas at this nursery. A week ago I went through the same process with this buyer. I explained what HVX is, which hostas are infected, and how the infection is spread by growers. I don't think she remembers me doing this in the past. Yesterday I checked to see if the sick ones were gone; nope, they stayed out on the tables. Some were gone but I assume they sold.

Clearly, this nursery's perennial buyer does not care, or is too busy to follow up. So....

Last night, from a post on this forum, I discovered that a hosta I've seen and craved strongly is called "Wheee!" Today, surprise, I saw that this nursery is selling "Wheee!" It's got a Proven Winners label. None of the infected hostas have a Proven Winners label, and these "Wheee!" hostas are new arrivals to this nursery. I doubt any infectious stuff from the diseased hostas has come in contact with these particular plants.

I could not resist and bought two. (Disclaimer: I am working at this nursery this summer.)

Does the Proven Winners label tell me anything about how careful the growers are? Can I be comfortable thinking that this is a disease-free hosta because it's got that label? My gut says I can trust that label, but maybe not.

I usually quarantine any hostas bought from local nurseries for three years just in case. My quarantine area is full, but it's time and I can move something if I have to. I don't quarantine hostas when I buy them from online dealers who acknowledge the existence of HVX and say they make sure it's not in their plants. I'd like to not quarantine these two new hostas. I have a place picked out for them in the garden.

Does that label actually mean the growers are held to a high standard? Does anyone know?
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Buying hostas from a careless nursery

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Re: Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby Tigger » Jun 22, 2016 9:49 pm

I would be pretty sure that Walters Gardens (the Proven Winners folks) sent clean plants. The risk is that someone went happy with pruners at the nursery. Fortunately, it's early in the season so there wouldn't have been need to clean up spent scapes, etc.

So, plant your Wheee!s (how does one form the plural?) in new holes, disturbing the roots as little as possible (where I would normally rough up the root ball before planting). Then keep a scrupulous sterilization plan in place, with regard to handling/managing these plants. That should take any concern to a pretty low level.

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Re: Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby LiquidFeet » Jun 23, 2016 10:30 am

If the tag and pot say Proven Winners, does that mean clean tissue culture specimens originated with Proven Winners but were sent to growers, who might or might not have been careful? Or does it mean Proven Winners grew each plant at a Proven Winner site, then sent them to the nurseries? It looks like Walters Gardens is the mothership of Proven Winners plants.

Well, here's the answer from http://www.waltersgardens.com/productprofile/
"Our product line consists primarily of generously graded bare root and plug perennials which are sold to independent garden centers, wholesale growers, landscapers, municipalities, and mail order companies across the US and Canada."

So if Proven Winners doesn't check those wholesale growers that buy clean hostas from Walters Gardens, then those growers could have introduced HVX into the plants, and my local nursery may have bought from them, not from Walters Gardens.

I've sent an email to Walters Gardens asking them if they monitor the wholesale growers that they sell to.
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Re: Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby LiquidFeet » Jun 23, 2016 8:29 pm

Follow-up:
Walters Gardens replied. They do not monitor the wholesale growers who buy their baby hostas.
There are just too many growers. I'll quarantine the Wheee! plants that I bought.
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Re: Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby ViolaAnn » Jul 01, 2016 7:04 pm

A good decision, I think. But I'm concerned about a nursery that knows it has a problem and does nothing. Do you have a way to report them? Are you too concerned about your job? You're in a bad spot if you are working there.
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Re: Buying hostas from a careless nursery

Postby Chris_W » Jul 04, 2016 4:31 pm

Honestly I think you will be okay with your Wheee. The original starts would be from clean tissue culture at Walters Gardens and that is the most important first step. While it might be possible to introduce HVX later in the process, such as from workers who were handling infected material at the time they were potted up or from pruning/trimming and not cleaning tools, it would be a lower risk than say getting in a Dutch import that was grown up instead.

Obviously keep an eye on them, but don't stress over it.

Sorry that this nursery doesn't take more care with the places they buy from :(
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