People ask us all the time, “where do you get your plants” and the answer for some of the varieties under the Monrovia label might surprise you. They’re not created by skilled breeders who cross this plant with that plant to get something with superior traits (though this does happen, of course). Instead, some of your favorites were made by Mother Nature who throws us a curveball now and then with plant mutations.
Here’s the science: Plant mutations, known as sports, breaks, or chimeras, are naturally occurring genetic mutations resulting from a faulty chromosomal replication that can change the appearance of the foliage, flowers, fruit or stems of any plant. They have no relation to the individual’s ancestry and the change can occur spontaneously.
And, here are the result: We can cultivate that mutation to make a new variation of the plant. These are just a few of the popular plants we grow that stemmed from a mutation.
The upshot? Be on the lookout in your own garden because you never know what Mother Nature is going to do!
This unique hydrangea was discovered by one of our employees in a garden in Southern California. A sport of Endless Summer hydrangea, just one plant of the many of this variety that had been planted there mutated to produce ruby-black stems. Cuttings were taken and grown out to see if this ruby-black stem would remain or revert back to it’s original color. It stayed ruby-black and a killer new plant was born. The big brilliant-blue mophead flowers with ruby-black stems are long lasting and extraordinary in cut flower arrangements.
Pink-A-Boo® Camellia is another perfect example of a plant mutation. From bright-red flowered Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ comes this deep-pink variation that’s not only a different color, but has other interesting attributes. It was discovered by Monrovia Craftsman Brad Crocker on the grounds of Monrovia Nursery in Azusa, CA. Unique not just in color, the blooms of Pink-A-Boo® are larger and showier, having seven petals rather than five, and boast a remarkable, sweet fragrance.
Scallywag™ Holly is a meservae holly that was found in Oregon as a sport of Little Rascal® Holly by Craftsman Nieves Garcia Coria. It is a more upright grower with shiny dark green foliage that turns purple-burgundy tone in fall and winter. Cold-hardy, low-maintenance, evergreen, with improved disease resistance and pretty much goes with everything else in the garden, this one is a real problem solver for small spaces needing a solid, evergreen, structural shrub.
One More? Okay! Here You Go.
Tango Twirl® Mandevilla was discovered in 2000 by legendary nurseryman Bruce Usrey at our Azusa, CA nursery in a bed of Mandevilla amabilis ‘Monite’, an earlier exclusive introduction with single petal blooms. Nature went one better by producing a sport with delicate soft-pink, fully double flowers that emerge in clusters throughout the summer. Each flower is an amazing arrangement of 18-20 petals twirling out from the center measuring three to four inches in diameter. Evergreen in frost-free regions; treat as a summer annual in cooler regions.
Like this kind of story and would enjoy learning more about the weird and wonderful here at Monrovia? Let me know in comments!