The Gardeners' Chronicle ser. 3, 28(728): 410-412 (Dec 8, 1900)
The Question of Chrysanthemum "Sports"
E. Molyneux

Cultivators should give careful attention to any chance sport that may be noticed on a portion of a plant of good variety. Although the origin or the cause of sports is still as obscure as ever (see Gardeners' Chronicle, December 18, 1897, p. 432. Ed.), there is one point that should be borne in mind, that any sport coming from a sterling variety like Phoebus as a Japanese, or Charles Curtis as an incurved, is sure to bear a close, or I might say identical, resemblance to its parent in habit of growth, and in all points except colour. The same rule will not apply to varieties raised from seed of known varieties, though occasionally seedlings also possess a habit very nearly the same as their parents.

A few years since sports were quite common among incurveds and Japanese varieties, and they furnished the bulk of the best of older varieties. Nowadays one is seldom heard of, and why,' I know not, though one reason suggests itself to me, and is as follows : The present fashion of growing Chrysanthemums for the production of large blooms is not favourable for increasing the number of new varieties by sports, the side shoots being removed as they grow, and it is from such side shoots that the largest number of sports have appeared.

The following are hints as to the best means of fixing sports, and of obtaining a stock of plants from them: If one branch only produces the strange bloom, out away all other branches, and remove the dead bloom from the "sport," but not the leaves. Turn the plant out of the pot, and lay it on its side in a propagating-house or frame which has bottom-heat, and cover the roots and branches with cocoa nut fibre, burying the buds in the axils of the leaves, but not the leaves themselves. This will induce the plant to produce a shoot at each joint, and when these are long enough, they should be removed with a sharp knife, not cutting them too low, as that might prevent other young growths springing from the base. Insert the cuttings singly in small pots, using sandy soil, and place in a propagating-case with bottom heat. Attend carefully to the watering and shading of them, as these cuttings will be more tender than ordinary ones, owing to their having been forced into growth. Plants which have been thus established may be expected to produce flowers of the new variety and a quantity of growths at the base of each plant, which may in turn be used for propagating purposes. Some growers propagate from the stem cutting them into lengths, but these do not strike freely, and comparatively a small number of plants can be raised in this manner.

It is also advisable to strike all cuttings growing from the base of the plant, carefully marking them, as some of these may produce flowers like to the sport.

In some instances, what are known as root sports are obtained. This means that all the sucker-growths from the base will belong to the new variety, presuming, of course, that the plant was allowed to grow with one stem only.

As showing how interesting this question of "sporting" is, and what excellent varieties have originated therefrom, I have jotted down the names of a few of them. It is a curious point, too, that it sometimes happens that the same variety will give an identical sport simultaneously in several parts of the country. In each case the sport is a facsimile of the other.

Taking the Japanese section first, I find no fewer than thirty sterling varieties have been obtained from this source. Of course, there may be many more, but this number pretty well exhausts the list of prominent varieties. Those following are a few of the more prominent:—

Madame Carnot, white, introduced by Calvat in 1891, has given us G. J. Waner, yellow, and Mrs. W. Mease, primrose coloured.

Viviand Morel, silky mauve, sent on by Lacroix, first produced Charles Davis, rosy-bronze colour, in 1893; then Lady Hanham, golden rosy cerise, as well as Mrs. Ritson and Robert Laird, both white-flowered forms of the original.

Mutual Friend, white, was introduced by Mann in 1893, and in 1898 gave us a pure yellow variety.

Mons. Chenon de Leché, rose, is one of M. Calvat's sterling novelties of 1895. This variety produced a pale yellow sport last year, which received the name of Souvenir de Marchioness Salisbury.

Mrs. C. H. Payne, bright rose and white, is one of Calvat's 1892 raising, and has excited much comment by its coarse, ungainly character. It has, however, been most productive of sports, no fewer than four having originated from it. Perhaps the latest of these known as M. Louis Remy, pure yellow, is the most valuable, possessing as it does, so little of the roughness of petal of the original, and reminding one much of Phoebus.

Among incurved varieties there are numerous records of "sporting" over a very long period; as far back as 1856 we have the first recorded sport of any value as an exhibition flower, Alfred Salter, a sport from Queen of England, which was introduced by Salter nine years previously.

The "Queens," as they are termed, have been more prolific in sports than any other section or type. No fewer than seven valuable varieties have emanated from this source. Such sterling varieties as Empress of India, Golden Queen of England, Lord Alcester, and John Doughty, are the result of sports from the original Queen of England. The Princess of Wales family has also afforded many sports, as many as six having appeared since the original was introduced in 1864. Princess Teck was an introduction by Pethers in 1868, and in 1873 gave the sport known as Hero of Stoke Newington, which was followed by Mrs. Norman Davis in 1886. During the year following there appeared no fewer than three sterling varieties: Lord Eversley, white; Charles Gibson, deep bronze red, centre cinnamon-fawn; and Lady Dorothy, pale cinnamon-buff, suffused with rose.

Novelty, Prince Alfred, Jeanne d'Arc, Lady Hardinge, and Robert Petfield, have all given useful additions to this section. Sporting is not confined to the incurved and Japanese sections only, all types, even the single-flowered varieties have been largely increased in this way.

In but three instances have I known sports to exhibit any variation in the formation of flower from that of its parent. These are the reflexed Mrs. Home, from a true incurved George Glenny; an incurved variety, George Bradner, from the reflexed variety Mrs. Forsythe; and M. Louis Remy, which has petals much flatter than the type. In the two former instances the colour is preserved.

Vegetative Selection