What is a rose sport?
We are often asked about plants that suddenly have a flower which
is different to the normal colour of the parent plants. There are several
reasons why you can get a new flower colour. The most common cause is a
plant mutation which then changes the growth habit or flower colour of the
parent plant. Often a new shoot displays different characteristics to the
parent. These new shoots are known as 'Sports'.
Sometimes it is a good sport, sometimes it is not so good. A problem of
course is that gardeners who find a 'sport' on one of their plants,
automatically assume that it is a 'good' sport. Interesting it may be, and
maybe even a very different colour to normal. That in itself, does not
make it a brilliant new plant of your very own!
Like all things in life, there can be good sports - and bad
Sports - or mutations - do not always materialise in the form
of colour differences. Sometimes a new shoot with a 'different' characteristic
will be just as important. For example, most climbing roses, started life a a
sport or mutation on a well known parent rose. That is how we have got 'Climbing
Iceberg' and 'Climbing Ena Harkness'. Someone was observant enough to realise
that the vigorous shoot sent up by the ordinary floribunda rose 'Iceberg', was
not mistaken as a 'sucker' but as a very valuable vigorous shoot that enabled it
to 'climb'. The shoot was then propagated by the normal process of budding, and
we ended up with 'Climbing Iceberg.
R. Iceberg. The Climbing Iceberg, started life a a 'sport' of the ordinary Bush
Rose - Iceberg.
In the case of Ena Harkness - a gorgeous red with a
disappointing flower habit of 'drooping' instead of staying upright - the new
vigorous shoot that was found and 'converted' into 'Climbing Ena Harkness', both
gave us another climber to add to the catalogue, but also its droopy flower
habit, fits in very well with its re-birth as a climber!
Reverting to Type
Virtually all variegated plants started life as ordinary green
or whatever - sending out a variegated shoot - a sport - which was then
propagated to give us the variegated plant form. Euonymus 'Emerald and Gold',
and E. 'Emerald Gaiety' are two such typical examples.
One of the problems with variegated plants, is that they often
send out green shoots - which are normally more vigorous than the variegated
parent. If they are not cut out, then they will soon take over the whole plant,
and you will be left with a mass of mainly green shoots.
In this case, the green shoots are where the variegated plant
has 'reverted' back to its original parentage! So, the new green shoot is not a
'new' plant or sport, but simply a desire within the plant to find its original
Self Sown Seedlings
explains how ne plants are often 'discovered' by garden seedlings.
By David Hughes -