Few things can be as dramatic or unusual in a landscape as plants whose leaves have multiple colors. This phenomenon is known as variegation and while it occurs for a few reasons it most often results from a purely chance event. This genetic anomaly caused by a chlorophyll deficiency can take the form of stripes, spots, splashes or dots of color on the leaves and while green leaves combined with white or yellow hues are by far the most popular example of variegation it is also found in darker colored plants as well.
There is no shortage of variegated plants to choose from in the summer and you may already have them in your garden and not even realize it. Hostas are a popular choice for shady spots and many varieties of Hosta have variegated leaves. Whether they are used as a stand-alone specimen or planted in mass they will help brighten even the shadiest parts of your yard. Caladium are another example of variegated plants that really say summer has arrived but if you have sunny areas you can try variegated varieties of Geraniums and Coleus.
As summer turns to fall you can still enjoy the special look of variegated foliage. Sedum, also known as Stonecrop is a popular fall perennial and there are variegated versions of this plant that you can use in your yard. Iresine and Cyclamen are popular choices for fall plants with variegated leaves that can found in warmer garden zones at this time of year and Zebra Grass creates a unique visual interest in fall gardens where it waves in the breeze as if it is beckoning winter to arrive.
Just because its winter doesn’t mean that you have to give up on pretty variegated foliage. On the contrary; there are lots of indoor plants that have variegated foliage that you probably know. Old-fashioned favorites like Spider Plants and Wandering Jew are some of the most popular houseplants and plants like Ivy and Pothos Vine with their green and white variegated leaves can help brighten those rooms in your home that don’t get a lot of light. If you’re not a fan of cold temperatures try growing Dieffenbachia and Prayer Plant which are sure to raise your spirits even if the winter seems to drag on endlessly.
Finally, when spring arrives it brings with it a variety of variegated plants. If you planted Evergreen Tulips last fall you are in for a special treat that all of your neighbors and friends will be asking you about. Shrubs like Weigela have several varieties with green and white leaves and if you have the room there is a Norway Maple tree with variegated leaves that you can grow in your yard. Ajuga is also known as Bugleweed comes in a variegated version which looks stunning with its Ajuga Black Scallop sibling and why not try adding spider plants to your hanging containers for a different look.
So if you’ve never tried to have fun with foliage in your garden then why not try some variegated plants in your landscape this year.