Hail to Variegated Plants!

Hail to Variegated Plants!

Any plant but green is meant to be seen!

My love affair with variegated plants started in my early garden years. Whether walking through a botanical garden or arboretum, my eyes were immediately drawn to the distinctness of these plants. I especially enjoyed propagating variegated plants in my plant production career, knowing I had my hand literally populating the earth with more! Several years ago, a friend recommended I visit a specialty nursery in Connecticut that had only variegated plants – so amazing I thought I died and went to heaven  – Even the weeds were variegated!

Variegated plants can come in many forms and shapes and include a variety of color. The variety of color could be found on a leaf, flower, branch, stem and even seeds!  They can be found in several trees, shrubs, fruit trees, perennials, annuals and houseplants. There is usual one form of variegation for the majority of plants available today for sun or shade. The unique leaf colors have been typically green with white or cream colored margins. Recently in the horticultural industry, a strong presence of yellows and pinks have emerged to compliment the variegated selections of plants. The many colors on a plant could be splotched or in some type of pattern.

The source of variegation derives from usually one of three types of phenomena. They can be naturally occurring as a “sport” or growth from a typically green plant. This is a result of a random cell mutation causing instability in the chlorophyll. A planned plant breeding program can also produce genetically engineered variegated plants. When this occurs, several desirable traits from host plants are bred to obtain superior variegation that remain stable. Lastly, variegation could be a result of a virus. Some of these viruses are stable and have resulted in beautiful flowers in a plant. Many well-known variegated Camellia flowers were a result of a virus.

Variegated plants are superior transitional plants in your garden during the seasons. They are used to compliment the landscape as a specimen plant or used in a mass planting. They provide a bridge of color in the absence of summer blooms or winter months. They can also provide a splash of color in a shaded part of your garden. Many have become staples in our industry and are widely available for purchase. Every year there are new cultivars and exciting colors emerging in our trade to behold for your new love affair with variegated plants. Come explore all of the variegated plants we have here on the property!