‘Mutant’ might seem like a negative word – but when it comes to plants like Diervilla Honey Surprise, its mutation is what makes it so unique and coveted!
How to grow Diervilla Honey Surprise
Flowering time: May to June
Location: Patio pots, mixed or shrub borders
Soil: Fertile, well-drained soil
Light: Full sun or part shade
Water: Drought tolerant
Care: Cut back and mulch each spring before flowering
Size: 80cm height and 1m spread
How was Diervilla Honey Surprise created?
William de Bruijn of Boomkwekerij William de Bruijn discovered a striking mutant through multicoloured leaves in Diervilla splendens.
What immediately struck him when he found the mutant were the different colours in the leaf. After taking cuttings and going through the process of propagation, it appeared that the foliage also differed in colour throughout the year, from silver in the spring, to red and yellow in summer and autumn.
William does not remember exactly when he found this mutant, but it took a few years before the nursery had a reasonable number of plants ready for sale. Once more plants were grown at the nursery, Honey Surprise stood out for visiting customers due to its leaf colour.
What is a mutation?
A mutation is a natural occurrence that can alter the appearance of the plant’s foliage, flowers, fruit or stems. Chimaeras, sports and breaks are some examples of common plant mutations.
Variegated monstera are an example of chimaeras in plants. This causes some of the plant’s leaves to appear white due to a lack of chlorophyll. This chlorophyll deficiency also means that the plant grows slower and takes longer to propagate, which is why you may have seen some variegated monstera selling for thousands of pounds!
Lavender ‘Meerlo’ is another example of a variegation mutation. Unlike variegated monstera, this lavender produces uniform variegations across its foliage, with each leaf featuring creamy edges. Find out more about this plant here.
Why do mutations occur?
Many mutations are random and a luck of the draw, but sometimes mutations can occur as a result of the conditions of the plant’s environment; for example, if it is exposed to very cold weather or damage from insects.
Are mutations permanent?
Usually, plants will revert back to their original form in the year following the mutation. However, as with Honey Surprise, mutations can be duplicated through propagation for a permanent effect.
What’s different about this plant?
Diervilla Honey Surprise is notable for its ability to change colour throughout spring and summer! Its silver-green variegated foliage brings some lushness to the garden in spring, then, additions of bronze-red and orange reflect the rich and fiery colours of summer. Plus, it produces new shoots in the colour orange, and yellow flowers in late spring to early summer. This plant is a feast of colour!
Where can you plant Diervilla Honey Surprise?
Add this attractive palette of colour to your patio pots! Diervilla Honey Surprise works in full sun as well as partial shade, so pop it in a container and move it around throughout the week to find out where it looks its best. It’s also ideal for a mixed or shrub border, creating a flow between foliage and flowering plants.
Where can you buy Diervilla Honey Surprise?
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe.
See every Plant of the Month here.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.