Can I Winter Sow Hosta Seeds?
Hostas can be sown either indoors or outdoors. If the seeds are fresh they can be direct sown outdoors as soon as they're ripe and they will germinate with the next prolonged warm spell. If the seeds are stored for more than a month after their harvesting they usually need stratification to germinate. I've got a garden with many, many hostas started both ways.
When sown via Winter Sowing there will be some early germination in the flats...and then NOTHING....for a few weeks more. Evidently, some of the seeds just take a good deal longer to germinate because they need either longer daylength or warmer nights. Anyway, just when you think you've lost all your patience you will have a flush of green from the late germinating hosta seeds.
My experience with open-pollinated hosta seeds has shown that hosta seedlings will begin to show their parentage very early on. You can expect some variation in seedlings from the parent plant but it's usually not excessive if noticable at all. Variegated hosta seedlings look variegated almost immediately, or certainly within their first or second month at the latest. Hosta seeds sown from an original variegated sport of a plain hosta have about a 50/50 chance of being variegated.....either they will or they won't. Hostas grown from the seeds of a variegated parent plant are usually all variegated. And the solid color hostas of blue, green, or gold generally produce seedlings that reflect their parent color from the moment of germination.
I personally don't mind if the seedlings do or don't look like their parents....any seeds or seedlings that I trade I do so under the catch-all description of "open-pollinated". I've NEVER had anyone turn down a trade. When it comes to hostas being different is where it's at, and the more seedlings I grow the more I enjoy them for that I started them myself. I used to buy hostas and have a very primo collection of them....price was no object when it came to a new cultivar. Hosta collecting is an addiction and a pricey one at that. However, since I get so much pleasure from starting my own from seeds I'm now more impressed with them as children of my own garden as opposed to plants with names attached to them. Having named hosta cultivars is no longer important to me.
I highly recommend everyone to start their own hostas from seeds just for the pure joy of it. It's a lot more fun than shopping for the lastest bank-busting cultivar. When you grow your own you just seem to love them more, and the need to have named cultivars seems to dissipate into nothingness. AND it saves mega-bucks too!