H. 'Sea Octopus'
This particular cultivar was obtained through a trade in 2008. It's a plant that has me puzzled, even now, in 2012, after having it for 4 years. If you check it out in the Hosta Library you will see several pictures that will remind you of what you see here. But is what you are seeing the real thing? You see, the Library shows two very distinct and very different plants under the listing. You might think that could be a maturity issue, perhaps. The registration for the Mildred Seaver cultivar is even more confusing. Check it out on The Hosta Registry and you'll see the measurements for the leaf as being 12x3 inches and the plant as upright at 9 inches. The pictures on the Library that show a more mature plant certainly show an upright one, not the almost prostrate one you see in the pictures from Shauna Cannon and Patty Woodbury. The plant is listed by Lemke as being small, with the size being 12-16x9 inches.
What I have is easily 9" tall and it'll be a few years before I can give a width, seeing as there are only 2 shoots this year. It's a nice enough plant. The leaves in the registration are given as mat green and undulating, what I see in mine is wavy alright but I'm not so sure I'd call it mat green, it's more of a satin green, very difficult to capture with the camera. No doubt the backs on mine are glossy, there is no mention of the backs in the registration however.
Bottom line is, I don't really know what it is I have here. Hopefully the scapes and flowers will provide additional clues.
While I'm convinced that I have the cultivar as identified, I'm still VERY puzzled over the flowering period. For me, out here on the We(s)t Coast, mine is in full bloom by early July, whereas the registration suggest a MUCH later blooming period, like August/September. Don't know how to reconcile that as yet, but I'll try this year, 2012, to get someone in the East to give me some first-hand feedback on how and when one of my divisions flowers out there. I have seen a picture from an eastern garden, ON, that would have been taken either early June or July that shows a plant that looks frightfully similar to mine, yet shows no hint of scapes, whereas mine have at least the scapes and early buds up by then.
A few weeks later and I continue to find a strange fascination with this cultivar. Don't know what quite it is though, it has an elegance about it to me. The arching of the leaves, their satin-sheen green with the red blush on the petioles, the undulating margin, it somehow seems deserving of a more elegant name than 'Sea Octopus'. Admittedly my visual perspective of this plant is very different from what Mildred Seaver would have had when she developed this cultivar; she would have looked down upon it whereas for me it is almost at eye-level this year because of the spot it's in. Never mind it is shown here at ground level, it usually is on a shelf about 5 ft off the ground.
The first of the flowers opened up June 18/09 and when I took a closer look I couldn't help but spot this little spider, hiding in the notch formed by the leafy bract and the scape.
Late Tuesday June 23rd and throughout the night and day June 24th we had some long-awaited rain again. At that point we'd gone for something like 28 days without any measurable precipitation. A goodly number of potted Hostas were taken out from the sheltered area and put out into the yard to get a good dousing with the rain and rinse off all the dust and cobwebs. 'Sea Octopus' had been in flower for a few days already and I was lucky enough to catch this pollinator busy at work in a couple of the flowers. And he'd been doing a good job at it too, just take a look at this crop of the same picture, it's the other open flower off, on the left side, that's pollen where you'd like to see it!
There wasn't any information I could find with respect to the vigour of this cultivar and I think I have an answer to that question: it would appear to be quite a good grower, just look at the 2 new shoots to the left in this picture. On top of that the first of the flowers -which happens to be the one you see above with the little spider- now is developing a pod, so fertility seems assured.
Fast forward now to the second half of August and notice how nicely the pot is starting to fill in. One of the new offsets is nudging the edge of the pot and that makes me think that this variety may have a somewhat rhizomatous growth habit; that would be a good thing for it continuing to show that nice upright, arching leaf shape I like so much about it.
The first flush of flowers has resulted in a nice number of fat pods, and the second growth has now started to flower by early September. I've thus far not transplanted the plant into a larger pot, but I think that'll be done very soon, I'd like it to start out 2010 in a somewhat roomier home.
Those pods mentioned above resulted in quite a few seedlings in 2010. Here's but a handful of them, and you can already see quite a divergence of leaf shapes. Some are much more narrow than others. There was quite the number of pods and obviously only a few were germinated. Germination rate was by far the highest of all the seeds we germinated in 2010, and it'll be a task to cull by season's end to wind up with a somewhat manageable number to take into 2011 and beyond.
Now in its 3rd year in our garden and look at how lush and vigorous it is. This was shot 21st of April, 2011, and I'm delighted with what I'm seeing here. Knowing the fertility of it, I'll take the opportunities this year for some crosses when they present themselves, but I don't think I'll go as far as saving and storing pollen.
Because of the extremely wet spring there was an issue with a bit of botrytis -a necrotrophic fungus- that lead to the plant looking somewhat unsightly for a while, as were several other cultivars with similar growth habits that impede proper air flow among the leaves, such as 'Ray of Hope' and 'Wolverine'.
The seedlings from 2010 you saw above was the typical crapshoot you expect with open-pollinated seeds: who's your Daddy? The vast majority were culled at the 4-6 leaf stage and only about a dozen or so were grown on into 2011. Among that lot were 3 seedlings that showed to be lutescent, with this one here to be the most exciting one. It's the biggest of the three, actually flowered this year, and shows early signs of the undulating leaf edges you see so clearly on the parent plant.
The flower is quite a bit lighter in colour than the pod parent.
Since there weren't any other hostas in bloom around the parent plant when it bloomed, I'm making the leap that these seedlings are selfed. None of the three lutescent seedlings have the reddish petioles of the parent or the all-green siblings and it'll be very interesting to see how well the wavy edge holds into 2012. I have already assigned a garden name to this cultivar, meet Hosta 'Yellow Sea'.
Some more info in Hugo's Database.