Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Split personality

Recent raw and rainy weather has confined gardening activities to plant inspections. What's in bloom? What's growing? Heck, what's cut through the soil and is greening up? The answer: be patient.

In the meantime, I've enjoyed this little joke on one of my Pieris japonica.

When I bought this Pieris, it had only lovely cream and green variegated leaves. Later, a small side branch appeared with all green leaves. Now, it's about half all green and half variegated.

This split personality looks like evidence of a hardy rootstock on to which a more delicate variegated shoot has been grafted. However, I'm not sure that's how these plants are propagated. The green-leaved portion of the plant is in deeper shade, more vulnerable to lime leaching from the house foundation, and probably receives more water. What's the explanation? Is it nature or nurture?


Xris said...

It's likely a spontaneous reversion of an unstable mutation. It could happen under any conditions. So probably more nature than nurture.

You probably paid for the variegation. If you want to keep it, cut out the solid green, which is more vigorous and will otherwise eventually dominate and crowd out the variegation.

Doctor Mom said...

Thanks so much for the explanation--in my plant biology-challenged world, I would never have thought of an unstable mutation. You're great!