Asexual Propagation

One of my great enjoyments in gardening is propagating plants. So many ways to do it! You can take stem cuttings or root cuttings, or you can serpentine layer, tip layer, or stool layer. And then there’s grafting, of which, as with layering and cuttage, many, many variations exist. Whole books have been written on plant propagation, even solely on grafting. My favorites for these two topics are Hartmann and Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices and R. J. Garner’s Grafter’s Handbook.

The above mentioned methods of propagation are asexual. New plants are made from mother tissue of an existing plant. As such, all the new plants are clones of the mother plant. Not always, though.

Grapefruit chimera

Grapefruit chimera

A plant chimera, analogous to the lion-goat-dragon of mythology, is a plant made up of two genetically different cells, a plant mosaic. Depending on what part of the plant you take for propagation, you end up with a clone of one or the other cell type, or, perhaps, both (the chimera). A plant usually broadcasts that it’s a chimera with splotches or lines of color different from the surrounding color of the leaves, flowers, or fruits. (Splotches or lines of color can also be caused by viruses.)

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