Gardening: Pink powder puffs are not always that particular color

By Joshua Siskin | [email protected] | February 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm Question: We have a hedge that has red puffball blooms. This year, for the first time, we have a single white bloom among the red. It’s quite unusual. I have attached pictures. Can you explain this? — Antonia Salzman, Granada Hills Answer: Your plant is Calliandra haematocephala or pink (even though flowers are more red than pink) powder puff. I believe the white flower came from a “sport” which, in botany, refers to a mutation in a chromosome within a leaf or flower bud that results in an unexpected leaf, flower, or fruit. Nectarine varieties, for example, began as peach tree sports. Nectarines are fuzzless peaches, identical to peaches in every way except for a single mutated chromosome. If you cloned or took a cutting from the stem from where your white flower is growing, you could possibly grow a plant with only white flowers. In fact, there is a white-flowered variety of your Calliandra species known as ‘Alba’ that was probably produced from a sport mutation just like yours. Many plants with variegated foliage are sports. Often, however, the mutation that caused the sport is not strong enough to endure as the plant grows. The result is reversion to the green foliage form from which the sport derived. A case in point is variegated Hawaiian elf schefflera (Schefflera arboricola ‘Variegata’). New growth on mature plants typically reverts to green. As long as we are talking about Calliandra, we cannot overlook… [Read full story]

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