It seems, as the numbers of people getting into gardening still rises, the same applies to the numbers of new plant introductions. With so many plants being introduced every year, there are always the variegated varieties that peak my interest. Not only is a beautiful flower produced on these plants, but the interest of the plant itself is held throughout the entire growing season. The plant’s white or yellow edges cause a different look than the all-green variety, as well as having the capability of brightening up an area without even being in bloom. These plants are just as hardy as their green cousins, so no other care is needed to grow them.
Some variegated varieties that are suitable in many different locations are:
Hosta – This hardy plant is so versatile and almost bomb-proof. It will grow well in full-shade to full-sun, in the poorest of soils and in moist or dry areas. If grown in dry soil, it does appreciate a large soaking once every 4 to 6 weeks, but otherwise no care is needed. Slugs create the only damage to the plants, making holes in the leaves, but this is easily fixed by laying crushed eggshells or used coffee grounds on the soil underneath. The most commonly seen is “Hosta marginata” with the white variegation on the leaves, but more striking is the golden variegated “Golden Tiara”.
Variegated Jacob’s Ladder – This plant certainly makes your head turn when you walk by. The leaves are so finely cut and with the variegated edges, it surely is in a class by itself. As it is a fairly new introduction, don’t be surprised to pay more for it, but it is worth planting even as a specimen plant. It grows best in part-shade and well-drained soil, but will tolerate more clay if it is given. Soft blue bell-like flowers are formed loosely in a spike that emerge from the center above the leaves.
Variegated Brunnera – Also known as “Perennial Forget-Me-Not”, and is a true perennial returning a little larger in size every year. This plant has rough and hairy leaves that are heart shaped, and tiny blue flowers are formed in clusters on the very top of the stems. Being not a large plant at 8 to 12 inches tall, it would be best mass planted in a part-shade location.
Goldleaf Weigela – This shrub bears crimson pink or red flowers late spring, then the wonderful foliage appears. As the name suggests, its leaves have a golden edge, thus creating a great backdrop for any plants grown in front. This shrub can become very large in size, therefore needing a large area to be planted in. Plant in full sun to part-shade in well-drained soil and it will thrive.
Dappled Willow – If you have a moisture retentive location, this is a shrub to grow. A neat shrub that is easy to maintain, it grows small white-speckled green leaves along the whispy branches. If the leaves are looked at close enough, it seems as though they have been splattered with white paint. To make it more attractive still, the new growth in the spring has a very pink tone on the tips of the branches, thus seeming from a distance that it is in bloom. It can become large if allowed to grow naturally, but pruning the branches even by half their length doesn’t seem to bother this shrub.
Silverleaf Dogwood – The red branches of this shrub keeps winter interest in the garden, then when spring arrives the leaves unfurl to bright green with a pure white edge. Almost startling to look at, it certainly brightens any corner it is placed in. It also can be pruned hard, likes a moist site to grown in and does equally well in either shade or sun.
Many, many more variegated plants are available; either annuals or perennials such as Variegated Geraniums, Variegated Sedum, Variegated Iris, Variegated Money Plant and Variegated Arabis. Certainly any garden can accommodate at least one variegated perennial, annual or shrub, creating beauty and interest in any corner of your garden.
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Email: Jennifer Moore