Benzyladenine, the active ingredient in Configure (Fine Americas, Inc.) has been used on Hosta for many years and its effectiveness in increasing basal branching is well documented. The fullness of the plant in the pot creates a higher quality plant. However, in the field, there are a few details you’ll want to pay attention to in order to get those results.
First, timing of application is important. As with most crops, the plants must be actively growing to maximize their responsiveness to Configure. Hostas are actively growing only under long days. Warm temperatures may push them out of the pot, but the longer days of mid- to late- Spring will keep them growing. So time your spray applications for shortly after the start of long days in your area.
Second, cultivars vary greatly in their response to Configure rates. The rates of application on Hosta are much greater than most other herbaceous perennials, typically 500 ppm to 3,000 ppm. Check out the table of research results published by Paul Pilon of Perennial Solutions Consulting on page 17 of the Configure Trial Results (http://fine-americas.com/lit/usa/configure/Brochures/Configure%20University%20Trial%20Results.pdf). Effective rates in these trials varied from 1000 ppm Configure applied once on ‘Minute Man’ and ‘Blue Angel’ to 3750 ppm on ‘Francis Williams’. Results with these cultivars will give you a starting point on the cultivars you grow.
In addition, notice the value of multiple applications. As we have pointed out with many Configure trials on herbaceous perennials, multiple applications improve branching. For example, with Pilon’s trial (referenced above) with ‘Blue Angel’ a single application of 1000 ppm increased branching by 125% whereas a second application, 14 days after the first, increased branching by 613% at 45 days after the initial treatment.
In our own trials, we have increased the number of basal branches in ‘Liberty’ with 1000 or 3000 ppm Configure applied in the Spring after long days began (Photo 1). ‘Great Expectations’ was more responsive with a doubling of the number of branches with either 1000 or 3000 ppm Configure (Photo 2).
So, make those Configure applications NOW!!! Make your application during moderate conditions – relative humidity not too low or too high. We suggest starting at about 1000 ppm unless you have rate information for your specific cultivars. And, be sure to get good coverage of the foliage with your spray applications. And allow two weeks between multiple applications.
Of course, if you are potting up new crops later this summer, you will still want to make Configure applications once those plants are actively growing as well, typically 2 to 4 weeks after potting.