The first time somebody pointed to one of my plants and said "oh, it reverted", I had no idea what they were talking about. Every now and then a visitor would make this comment, usually when looking at one of my Hosta but it happened with a few other plants too.
Finally I figured out what they were saying. The plant in question had been chosen for it's unusual form, possibly a color breakthrough or a foliage variation. In the above photo of Hosta 'Janet' you can see the solid green leaves scattered about. They come from a part of the plant that "reverted" back to the original form.
It's still a bit confusing. You see, originally there was a solid green Hosta. It had a mutation, one part of it had a lovely variegated leaf. An observant grower isolated that variegated section, multiplied it, introduced it and now you had a variegated Hosta named 'Janet'. The problem is that sometimes these new introductions will revert, that is, go back to their original color or form.
This is Sedum 'Frosty Morn'. I'm absolutely crazy about this Sedum, with good reason. It looks stunning in the garden.
See this photo of a newly weeded perennial border (taken in 07). It's easy to find Sedum 'Frosty Morn', she just stands out wonderfully. The best thing is I got this plant for free. I was walking through the perennial farm down the road when it was in business a few years ago. There were weeding buckets scattered around and one of them was filled with wilted Sedum cuttings. I asked if I could take those cuttings home and try to grow them on. The answer was "yes" and just about every cutting grew for me.
Yesterday as I was out in the garden I checked over my newly emerging Sedum. From past experience I've learned that some varieties will revert. As you can see in this photo, Sedum 'Frosty Morn' is one of those.
So what am I to do? Many times the reverted portion can be a stronger grower than the variegated portion so you really need to remove it. In the case of Sedum, it's easy, just slip your fingers down to the base, wiggle a bit and pull that piece out.
Hosta are much harder, you need to cut out the reverted portion. Hosta 'Janet' has been lifted three times and cut three times. I don't know if it's just prone to reverting or if I'm always leaving a small piece of the solid portion behind. The hard part is you can't lift it now in March and cut, you have to wait until it's leafed out to see the different parts. At that point I'm pretty loathe to lift and cut that beautiful plant.
This lovely yellow/blue variegated Sedum is another one that reverts every year. You can see here that I left it along for a year or two before splitting it up. This is an older photo and I didn't know at the time how easy it was to separate Sedum.
So what do you do with the piece you cut out? Is there something wrong with it? Nope, it's just not what you originally thought you planted.
This photo shows you two Sedum. The dark one in the foreground is Sedum 'Lynda Windsor'. Behind it with the light foliage is a Sedum that grew from one of the reverted pieces I stuck in the ground. I don't remember which plant this reverted piece came from but it's so beautiful that I'm propagating it now.
I have no idea if the "reverted" piece is actually now the same as the grandparent plant or if it is a totally new thing. It really doesn't matter much to me, I'm having so much fun with it!
As for the solid colored Hosta pieces? I've found homes for all of them, either with other gardeners or here at my own place, where I've put them along the border of our little woods.
Do you have plants that revert? What do you do with them?