Blooming /Olga / variegation

James Waddick
Tue, 03 Feb 2009 08:05:19 PST
Dear PBS friends,
	We have hardly used the "B" word here as hardly anything is 
either in bloom or in bud. I reported earlier on the dwarf Narcissus 
'Cedris Morris' whose last flower is fading and looking very unhappy. 
A few Galanthus have buds showing color just barely above the soil 
surface; hopefully they'll see full form by the end of the month. 
Even Hellebores and Hamamelis 'Pallida' are void of bud development 
or a hint of color. The color of the month is brown  with hints of 
grey. Typical winter time dull.

	We have had more 'roller coaster' weather this winter with 
each week's temperature range from single digits (F) to near 60 or 
above. I call it "0 to 60 in 24 hours". Sunday we had a record of 70 
degrees (F) and this morning it is 11 F.  we have stopped calling it 
global warming and instead repeat some climatological pun of 'Global 
Weirding'. This is defined as weather that displays both too hot, too 
cold, too extreme storms, drought and flood and all other fringes of 
weather weirdness. Of course the average sounds moderate, but it 
seems all too rare and the base line seems to be getting higher as 
the extremes extend still further.

	Some just call this a 'Continetal Climate'.

	Galanthus: Like so many we are smitten by the early bloom and 
responsiveness. I've grown G. olga-reginae for years and it blooms 
reliably each fall. No problem. It multiplies slowly, more if I 
pampered it, but enough to start a couple more clumps around. No 
recollection of seed production, but what pollinator would be crazy 
enough to come around in the conditions I described.
	In any case it is very reliable hardy and persistent for us.

	Many plants have proven reliable here disregarding the 
experts edicts. The palm Rhapidophyllum has grown and multiplies well 
for years with no protection, Rohdea 'laughs' at our winter and there 
are more. The essential thing is to try them if in doubt.

	I do claim some expertise in regard to variegation especially 
in regard to foliage. Years ago Oxford University tested hundreds of 
plants with variegated foliage. They found that the foliar coloration 
was due to various genetic factors in something over 95% of the 
plants and that less than 5 % were due to viral infection. They also 
proposed a 'test' that I have found pretty convincing.

	With variegated leaf in hand, look at the borders between 
green and white parts. Most will show fairly sharp edges with little 
blurring. Viral variegation is much 'fuzzier' as the discoloring 
'disease agent'/virus moves from cell to cell. Genetic variegation is 
often carried in non nuclear DNA of plant chloroplasts passed from 
the seed parent plant in the embryo. Virus that produce the rare 
occurrence of variegation may be relatively benign, but many carry a 
negative quality that makes viral variegated plants 'weak' growers.

	The genetic variegates may arise by a wide range of causes 
and result in a wide range of expressions depending on how and where 
in each layer of the leaf the altered DNA is represented. The luck of 
the genetic draw and the basic genetic make up of the plant.

	I have simplified this "A LOT" and this does not necessarily 
follow in regard to the expression of color breaks in flowers, but 
color breaks can occur for a number of reasons from genetics, to 
virus, to mycoplasma, temperature and other developmental factors.

	Excuse me for putting too many diverse topics under one 
heading. Been too busy to respond to most PBS topics lately and glad 
to to divert the proceedings back to bulbs.

	Trying to catch up and keep warm in anticipation of spring. 
		Best		Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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