Ask a Question forum: All green spider plant is suddenly producing variegated babies

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Wolfcry7
Dec 29, 2017 2:55 AM CST
Hi. So I've had this all green spider plant almost 2 years now (this first picture). It has produced tons of babies and they've all been all green as well (You can actually see one of the first babies it produced in the background). But the most recent batch are variegated instead (the second picture). The only change I made was moving it from the kitchen window at the back of the house (north facing) to a larger window at the front (south facing). Is this ok?
Thumb of 2017-12-29/Wolfcry7/2dfeac


Thumb of 2017-12-29/Wolfcry7/ec9cf5

Name: Jai or Jack
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 29, 2017 7:41 AM CST
Yes, it is OK.

Variegation in plants is slightly harmful--whether it is caused by a virus, genetic mutation, fungus, or other cause--variegation always deprives the plant of a certain percentage of food (white areas produce much less chlorophyll). But in most plants, as long as they are well-cared for, they can continue to grow and reproduce in cultivation without much issue (in nature they would be out-competed more quickly).

In light of this being harmful to the plants, often variegated ones will find a way to revert back to solid green (relatively common in plants like Chlorophytum and Sansevieria). But the flip side of that is that plants which were variegated and then reverted to green can sometimes revert again to being variegated again.

Don't be surprised if your variegated babies eventually produce solid green offspring. Sticking tongue out
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Dec 29, 2017 9:44 AM CST
I'm a bit confused by "the current batch"; even two (latter, if the second picture shows two babies/spiderettes).

If this is a genetic mutation (a reversion), would all (or even more than one) of the spiderettes likely be reverting at the same time?
Spontaneous mutations are rare events. The form of variegated spider plant shown is the cultivar 'Vittatum' (the variegated form of spider plant which first became popular; no green pigmentation down the centre of the leaf nor in the stems). Classically, mutations are spontaneous changes in genetic material and it then requires selection by breeders over generations to fix them in stable or relatively stable offspring.

If a non-mutational environmental event was involved, the most obvious possibility would be the move to more light (viz. perhaps less demand for photosynthesizing tissue). Of course, the situation could conversely be a change to too much (direct) light for a spider plant.

I'm taking it that an apparently sudden change does suggest a mutational event.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 29, 2017 10:08 AM CST
Wolfcry7 said:Is this ok?


Since your question is "is this okay?", the short answer is yes, it's okay. Thumbs up

To my old eyes, the mother plant you are calling 'green' shows a faint variegation down the center of each leaf.

Here is a long-winded article about how light/shade has an effect on variegation.
https://www.ishs.org/ishs-arti...

Here is a link about spider palnts which includes a video showing a woman repotting a rather green spider plant that has a bunch of variegated babies attached. ( Blinking Warning: turn the volume waaaay down low before viewing!) Whistling
https://www.epicgardening.com/...

Good luck with your plant. Thumbs up

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 29, 2017 10:14 AM CST
SunnyBorders said:I'm a bit confused by "the current batch"; even two (latter, if the second picture shows two babies/spiderettes).

If this is a genetic mutation (a reversion), would all (or even more than one) of the spiderettes likely be reverting at the same time?
Spontaneous mutations are rare events. The form of variegated spider plant shown is the cultivar 'Vittatum' (the variegated form of spider plant which first became popular; no green pigmentation down the centre of the leaf nor in the stems). Classically, mutations are spontaneous changes in genetic material and it then requires selection by breeders over generations to fix them in stable or relatively stable offspring.

If a non-mutational environmental event was involved, the most obvious possibility would be the move to more light (viz. perhaps less demand for photosynthesizing tissue). Of course, the situation could conversely be a change to too much (direct) light for a spider plant.

I'm taking it that an apparently sudden change does suggest a mutational event.


Spontaneous mutations are not nearly as uncommon as people think. Rather, we don't see or notice most of them because they are not phenotypic.

It is not at all unreasonable to think that one plant would produce two kinds of vegetative offspring at the same time. I have seen it happen. Usually it is more subtle than outright variegation, but not always.
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Name: Daisy I
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DaisyI
Dec 29, 2017 11:43 AM CST
Variegated plants produce as much green as they need to fulfill their requirements for producing food (photosynthesing) and supporting themselves. In the north facing window, the spider plant needed all the chlorophasts functioning that it could muster. Now, in the south window, the plant is getting enough light so is growing the way it should have been all along. Slowly, as leaves are replaced, it will most likely be a variegated plant.

Variegated plants aren't sick or mutated but they do have interesting genetics.
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Dec 29, 2017 12:01 PM CST
Great article (abstract) and video, Greene; latter does show specifically what Wolfcry's talking about.

Interesting comments, Jack. Over the years, I've certainly seen branch mutations on garden perennials, including several from variegation to non-variegation. Below a branch mutation on variegated garden phlox 'Nora Leigh' (Sept 16, 2017). Still that's only the first or second time I've seen this dealing with dozens of variegated garden phlox over thirty years. Have also seen quite rare branch mutations away from variegation in the 'Alexander' cultivar of variegated yellow loosestrife.

In a garden situation, such phenotypic changes usually seem to be quite rare. On the other hand, there are a very few exceptions to rarity, the most obvious reversion I've seen is in the garden phlox 'Peppermint Twist' back to the parent 'Candy Floss'.

The research that the abstract summarizes is for green-house raised ornamental foliage plants with variegation occurring on attached stolon, using the spider plant as the model; certainly relevant to the initial question.

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[Last edited by SunnyBorders - Dec 29, 2017 12:04 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 29, 2017 12:05 PM CST
SunnyBorders said:In a garden situation, such phenotypic changes usually seem to be quite rare.


The opposite is true. Nearly every variety of cultivated plant in existence is the result of one or many phenotypic changes. It's easy to lose sight of the forest for the (variegated, neon, dwarfed, extra cold-hardy) trees in this case.
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Dec 29, 2017 12:30 PM CST
I don't believe that for one minute, "in this case", Jai.

Relevant here: we're not talking about years and years of artificial selection by thousands and thousands of plant breeders.
Name: Daisy I
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DaisyI
Dec 29, 2017 12:46 PM CST
There was no sudden genetic change in the spider plant in question. Just an ability by the plant to use what it already has in changing circumstances.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 29, 2017 12:50 PM CST
SunnyBorders said:I don't believe that for one minute, "in this case", Jai.

Relevant here: we're not talking about years and years of artificial selection by thousands and thousands of plant breeders.


Remember that the vast majority of varieties of domesticated plants and animals are spontaneous mutations that have then been bred selectively toward one end or another. We're not talking about an 'either/or' situation but rather a 'both/and' situation.
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Dec 29, 2017 1:56 PM CST
Jai, it would be interesting to read what percentage of garden or indoor plants were selected from spontaneously occurring (point) mutations (as compared say to originated with hybridization). Still I can only agree with you on the overall and key importance of mutation.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 29, 2017 2:02 PM CST
And there's really no way to know. So few plants have their genomes mapped.
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 29, 2017 2:40 PM CST
The relevant thing is to answer the question that was asked by the OP, Wolfcry7. Since we have done that, let's move on. Thumbs up
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Name: Sue
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Zuni
Dec 29, 2017 11:31 PM CST
My understanding is that it would all be related to light. If you're familiar with coleus, for example, they are very much affected by light, as far as the colors that are produced.

Variegation is not any kind of sign of problem - other than how the plant relates to the amount of light given, as far as what I've learned.

But, what fun! I love when something like that occurs. Nature is just so fascinating and magical.
Name: Zack
Upstate NY (Zone 5b)
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TheWitchBoy
Jan 31, 2018 12:54 AM CST
Hey, I just wanted to pipe up (since no one seems to have, yet) that some variegations of spiderplant actually start variegated and revert to an unvariegated format. For example, the Hawaiian spiderplant is a green spiderplant that gives of variegated pups, which then grow up and lose their variegation (and proceed to shoot of variegated pups, ad infintum).

So! It miiiight be possible that you have a Hawaiian spiderplant (though I note that you said the first -few?- pups from your plant weren't variegated).

Whatever the case, best of luck with your spidey!
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tofitropic
Jan 31, 2018 2:17 AM CST
lovely case, I love to save those "different" plant when I encountered one.
Found some in the past. So, not so surprised anymore to see mutation, rather hoping to see few again in the future, especially if in rare or useful/edible plants. These are few that I have picture of,
, , ,
But, many.. I've lost, both photos and plants (Avocado, Xanthosoma, Duranta etc.. Shrug! ).
If you find a sport, try to propagate them, and share them with friends, in case yours gone (but beware of those deformed plants caused by virus/pathogens)
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pod
Jan 31, 2018 7:04 AM CST
TheWitchBoy said:Hey, I just wanted to pipe up (since no one seems to have, yet) that some variegations of spiderplant actually start variegated and revert to an unvariegated format. For example, the Hawaiian spiderplant is a green spiderplant that gives of variegated pups, which then grow up and lose their variegation (and proceed to shoot of variegated pups, ad infintum).

So! It miiiight be possible that you have a Hawaiian spiderplant (though I note that you said the first -few?- pups from your plant weren't variegated).

Whatever the case, best of luck with your spidey!

I concur! Reading thru this thread that was exactly what I was thinking and the original photos look like it may possibly be the Hawaiian spider.

I have one and have been fascinated to watch the variegation disappear as the plant ages and yet the babes' variegation is clearly defined. Thanks for making that point. Thumbs up
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Tisha
Feb 3, 2018 2:38 PM CST
Love the information evolution on this tread.
Thanks for the contributions everyone.

Tisha

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