Prune reverted shootIt’s something not often seen, but strikes most people as peculiar including many landscapers.  I’m talking about “reverted shoots”.

Just what are reverted shoots?

Many of the unusual cultivars of plants you see came from the original, normal plant.  What happens is a mutation occurs in the normal plant causing an unusual (and sometimes desirable) variation of growth.  For example, the shape of the mutated growth might be compacted or miniature compared to the normal plant.

If the growth and/or color traits of the mutated shoot are desirable, then more plants can potentially be created from this shoot.  This is done by “vegetative” propagation.  In other words cuttings are taken from the unusual shoot and rooted to make young plants.

Over time a shoot of growth may appear on this new “cultivar” that has the plain foliage from the original normal plant.  This is a “reverted shoot”.

What to do with them.

Whenever you come across a reverted shoot on a variegated or unusual foliage plant, it should be removed.  Not only do they look out of place on the unusual cultivar, but they will start to dominate the plant.

As you see in the picture below, prune the reverted shoot right at the point of origin.

One of the most common examples of branch reversion is with Alberta Spruce and perhaps you’ve seen it too.  This compact plant is derived from the standard White Spruce.  A reverted shoot on Alberta Spruce is not hard to identify.

Prune a reverted shoot

  • DM
    9:29 AM, 16 June 2010

    So thats what that is on my dwarf spruce. Thxs. for the info.

  • Bill Pritchard
    9:13 AM, 6 December 2011

    Thank you for getting back to me. I will make good use of it. bill

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