Friday, October 16, 2009

Random plant event: Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig' sport

This one's kind of subtle, but I think it should be visible in the picture.

We had a big huge Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig' at work when I started, and in the winter of 2007-08, at some point, possibly because there was cold water condensing on the greenhouse ceiling and then dripping onto the plant, one side of the plant got weird brown-black spots on the leaves, plus the tips and margins burned too, and it became unsellable.

So we cut it back. Because I hated the idea of just throwing away so much plant material, we chopped the canes into sections about three inches long and planted them in soil and threw the whole thing under a table somewhere. It took forever, but most of those sections surprised me by rooting and sprouting, so then instead of a big huge unsellable 'Janet Craig' with a bunch of half-dead leaves, we had a tray full of little tiny unsellable 'Janet Craigs' that had been cut off at the top and resprouted. Which is to say, there was not actually that much improvement in the overall 'Janet Craig' sellability situation.

We tried selling them anyway, but then spring happened, and then there was summer, and the greenhouse got hot, and they started to bleach and notch from the heat, as Dracaena deremensis will. So eventually the decision was made, by me, to throw them away, and by "throw them away" I mean take them home, because the two concepts were frequently interchangeable like that.


In all, I wound up with five resprouted stems, and they've done okay for themselves once they got out of the heat -- they're not up to the quality of what we'd have brought in new from Florida (leaves are smaller, plants are shorter), but they're respectable-looking for a houseplant. I've noticed, though, that one of the canes is doing something slightly interesting.

It's hard to get a picture of, because it's not dramatic in the first place, and the normally-colored leaves cover up the odd ones no matter what angle you take the picture from, but you may be able to see in the above photo that the plant in front has green leaves with a thin yellow line down the center. This is most obvious in the leaf that's facing the camera directly, but the same plant has a leaf to the left of that one and to the right of that one, which are both doing it too, as are most of that plant's leaves which aren't visible in the picture.

It's not what you'd call exciting news: even if the stripe were broad, distinct, and of a sharply-contrasting color, it'd still basically just be a Dracaena deremensis imitating a Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana,' and the two are already pretty hard to tell apart. It's like Megan Fox dressing up as Angelina Jolie for Halloween: she might look a lot like Angelina Jolie, but they look so much alike to begin with that nobody would find it impressive.

Still, it's something, and I'd like to think that the Dracaena gods are trying to make it up to me for The Skunky Incident (about which I am still bitter: SKUNKY WILL BE AVENGED!!!). If this is true, they need to keep working on it, because this is nowhere near as cool as 'Skunky' was.

In the extremely unlikely event that this is an actual mutation (instead of, say, some new and exciting kind of mineral deficiency, which is certainly also a possibility) and it turns out to be stable and propagatable, what would be a good name for the cultivar? I'm thinking maybe Dracaena deremensis 'No Passing Zone.'


Water Roots said...

Oh...I do remember the skunky incident. That was pretty sad.

It seems plants do strange things around you Mr. S. What are you doing over there? Do you have a secret lab or something? Didn't you study chemistry or some such thing? Hmmm....

Karen715 said...

It's always cool to see plants do different things. But for my money, nothing is prettier than an ordinary Dd'JC', with deep green, shiny foliage. It's like the essence of plantiness.