Variegation Is The Spice Of Life: Streaked, Spotted & Mottled Plants

Variegation Is The Spice Of Life: Streaked, Spotted & Mottled Plants

Tess Wilson
Apr 26, 2012

A gardening friend suggested I write a post about variegated plants...because I don't like variegated plants. It sounded like a fun challenge, so I pored over countless images of mottled & piebald, searching for specimens with interesting colors, streaks, and swirls. But, like, low-key streaks, and swirls...

  • Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian bugloss) 'Jack Frost' is definitely my favorite of the bunch- a shower of tiny sky-blue flowers hover over silvery leaves. The 'Looking Glass' variety has leaves that are so silvery, in fact, that many of the photos I found looked like those black & white photos that have one element (say, a red rose) colored in. Surreal! Northern Shade Gardening has wonderful photos and information about these and other Brunnera varieties.
  • I can't decide how I feel about Thujopsis dolobrata "Variegata". I love green and cream together, but if I had a shrub like this one from Walaszczyk Nursery, I think I would always worry it was dying. What do you think?
  • Color Flash Astilbe Astilbe x arendsii 'Beauty of Ernst' is very pretty, and would provide a bit of those fall colors that this Midwestern girl misses here in California. Sherry's Place reports that "New leaves start out as bright green and turn purple and burgundy as they age, so the plant is always several colors. In the fall, the leaves are supposed to turn a vibrant orange and gold." Sounds lovely.
  • Garden Design Magazine calls Coleus Solenostemon 'Pink Chaos' "an explosion of neon paisley". Is that exactly what your garden's been missing?
  • 'Snow-On-The-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is a dainty little native wildflower with a cluster of tiny blossoms surrounded by green and white streaked leaves. This photo was taken by Doug Wirtz for the Kansas Native Plant Society, and it makes me think I could love this variegated beauty — so nice & neat!
  • These last two photos are both of Japanese Hydrangea Vine Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight'. The first image, from Youngblood Nursery, shows off its "silvery blue-green foliage". The second, from Water Daily, shows how the silver sheen contrasts wonderfully with the deep-green veins. These are both supposed to be the exact same plant, so perhaps the color changes throughout the year? This vine also features "creamy, scented, lacecap blooms" in the summer, but all I care about are those gorgeous leaves.
How do you feel about variegated plants? Do you have any favorites, or do you prefer your foliage to be all one color, please?

(Images: as credited above.)

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