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Why Is This Yellow Mum Pink?

During the summer I managed to "clone" several of my perennials by making cuttings. Using that method, I rooted extra dianthus, hydrangeas, rosemary and chrysanthemums and planted them all in the garden in September. The dianthus and hydrangea won't bloom for a long time, but one mum cutting grew a large enough to support a few blossoms that opened this week. The parent plant has big yellow flowers, but the clone is ... (twist!) ... pink.

The "parent" mum sets pink buds that open to creamy yellow and fade to pink.

My little cutting didn't have the same color flower as its "parent" this year.

The color difference can be explained by timing and temperature. The parent mum set buds mid-summer and began blooming at the end of October, when the nights got longer. The little clone set buds in September and bloomed in mid-November. The average temperatures dropped several degrees in the last month and the cooler air causes yellow mums to turn pink. (This is probably why the parent mum fades to pink, as well.)

It will be interesting to see what happens next year, when all the mums bloom around the same time. The parent mums live on my fire escape, which stays a bit warmer than the garden below.