Pictures of Variegated Leaves

  • 01 of 25

    Variegated Dogwood Shrub

    Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' is a red twig dogwood shrub with variegated foliage.
    Picture of Red Twig Dogwood Bush Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' is a red twig dogwood shrub with variegated foliage. David Beaulieu

    Plants With Bi-Colored Foliage Make for Striking Specimens

    Variegated leaves usually have one color on the inner part of the foliage and a second color along the edge or "margin." Browse my pictures of plants with bi-colored foliage for some examples.

    Included in this photo gallery are plants that go above and beyond the call of duty, featuring not two but three different colors on their leaves! Another way that plants with variegated leaves can "go the extra mile" is to offer...MORE colorful blooms and/or berries, as well; I supply examples in this photo gallery.

    Variegated foliage gives your plants interest even in the absence of flowers....

    Example: Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' is a red twig dogwood bush with variegated foliage. This variegated shrub does bear flowers in spring (sometimes succeeded by berries), but it's valued more for its bi-colored leaves, which you can enjoy for three seasons.

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  • 02 of 25

    Photo of Lamium Galeobdolon: What the Plant Looks Like

    'Yellow Archangel' is a yellow lamium plant.
    What Are Its Best, Worst Attributes? 'Yellow Archangel' is a yellow lamium plant. David Beaulieu

    It's hard to choose the best attribute of Lamium galebdolon....

    Is it the variegated foliage of Lamium galebdolon? Or is it the yellow flowers? Fortunately, we don't have to choose, although I am inclined to nominate its two-toned leaves, since they are more of a constant.

    It is not, however, tough to choose this plant's worst feature: it is one of the worst invasive plants.

    If you do choose to plant it, grow this perennial in light shade. It is related to the more common spotted...MORE deadnettle. Yellow archangel's shade tolerance makes it a candidate for use in woodland gardens.

    A clump-forming plant, Lamium galebdolon reaches 1-3 feet in height, with a similar spread. The variegation on the plant takes the form of silver splotches (irregularly shaped) throughout the leaf. The leaves also have a jagged appearance. The flowers grow in bunches, growing in a ring around the stem.

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  • 03 of 25

    Yellow Loosestrife Picture

    Picture of Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander.' As photo shows, Alexander's Lysimachia's pink and green.
    Alexander's Loosestrife Picture of Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander.'. David Beaulieu

    Picture of Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander,' a perennial valued as much for its foliage as for its flower spikes....

    'Alexander' is a variegated yellow loosestrife and is also commonly called "Alexander's loosestrife." In late spring / early summer, when the plant blooms with yellow flowers, the foliage is white and green. But when variegated yellow loosestrife first emerges in spring, its leaves are a more interesting pink and green.

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  • 04 of 25

    Variegated Salvia

    Picture of a variegated salvia. I don't often see variegated salvias.
    A Gold-Spotted Salvia Picture of a variegated salvia. David Beaulieu

    We don't usually think of red salvias as variegated plants....

    A popular annual used as a bedding plant, red salvias are usually grown for their flowers, not their foliage. But this gold-spotted variety qualifies as a prime foliage plant, meaning its red flowers are a bonus.

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  • 05 of 25

    Garden Phlox Picture

    Picture of variegated garden phlox. As photo shows, variegated phlox is two-toned.
    Nora Leigh a Variegated Garden Phlox Picture of variegated garden phlox. David Beaulieu

    'Nora Leigh' garden phlox exhibits two-toned leaves, as well as two-toned flowers....

    The leaves of this garden phlox have green centers with white edges (margins), while the flowers have a deep pink center, surrounded by a lighter pink color.

    Don't confuse garden phlox with creeping phlox, which is a low-growing ground cover that blooms in spring. Garden phlox blooms in summer.

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  • 06 of 25

    Nasturtium Picture

    Nasturtium picture. As the photo shows, some nasturtiums are variegated.
    Variegated Nasturtiums Speckled With White Flecks Nasturtium picture. David Beaulieu

    These nasturtiums are an example of a variegated annual....

    I think of nasturtiums as fall flowers. Here in New England, we sow their seeds in early June, and they bloom in early autumn. Their orange and yellow flowers also fit in well with traditional fall color schemes.

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  • 07 of 25

    Photo of Iris Pallida 'Aureo-Variegata'

    Pic of Iris pallida Aureo-Variegata. As photo shows, Iris pallida Aureo-Variegata is green, gold.
    Iris With Striped Leaves Picture of Iris pallida 'Aureo-Variegata.'. David Beaulieu

    This iris not only bears the beautiful flowers one expects from an iris, but compelling leaves, too, as the picture shows....

    Iris pallida 'Aureo-Variegata' has a purple flower and green and gold, sword-shaped leaves. Like many (but not all) irises, this variegated iris boasts fragrant blooms. Peruse my full profile of bearded iris flowers to learn more.

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  • 08 of 25

    Variegated Columbine

    Variegated columbine picture. A nice twist on the norm, variegated columbine will turn heads.
    Photo: A Columbine That Is Speckled Variegated columbine picture. David Beaulieu

    Columbine plants are known for both their attractive foliage (clover-like when young) and compelling flowers....

    But variegated columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris 'Woodside Variegata') offers an even more interesting foliage than most types. Columbine flowers come in many colors; some are even bi-colored. Columbines can have yellow, white, red, blue, purple or pink blossoms. They can reach 2 feet in height (taller when in full bloom). Columbine plants bloom in late spring to early summer and...MORE re-seed readily if you don't deadhead them.

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  • 09 of 25

    Tricolor Sage

    Tricolor sage picture. As the photo shows, tricolor sage bear leaves in 3 colors, pink, white, green
    Ornamental Sage With Colorful Leaves Tricolor sage picture. David Beaulieu

    Living up to their name, tricolor sage plants display three colors....

    Other variegated plants in this photo gallery also boast three colors, such as kiwi vines and the tricolor beech. Unlike the other tricolored plants mentioned, however, tricolor sage's third color (after green and white) is purple, not pink.

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  • 10 of 25

    Tricolor Beech Photo

    Tricolor beech photo. As the photo shows, tricolor beech leaves bear 3 colors, pink, white and green
    Example of a Tree With 3 Colors in Its Leaves Tricolor beech photo. David Beaulieu

    I usually think of beech trees as fall foliage trees. One doesn't think that much about their leaves until autumn...

    Not so with the tricolor beech. What strikes me in the picture above is how boldly the green in the leaf stands out from the pink and white coloration.

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  • 11 of 25

    Sweet Tea Heucherella

    Picture of Heucherella 'Sweet Tea.' As photo shows, Heuchera 'Sweet Tea' is variegated.
    Two-Toned Cross Picture of the two-toned foliage. David Beaulieu

    As the photo shows, Heucherella 'Sweet Tea' has a leaf with a dark center and a lighter color on the perimeter....

    Heucherella is derived (both linguistically and botanically) from a cross of Heuchera and Tiarella. For most types of this perennial the leaves are more interesting than the flowers. 'Sweet Tea' is no exception in this regard. The same can be said for one of its parents, Heuchera.

    There are exceptions, though. But even in the case of Heuchera 'Blondie,' which...MORE is named for the color of its blooms, I regard its leaves as its best feature.

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  • 12 of 25

    Variegated Rose of Sharon

    Picture of Sugar Tip hibiscus, rose of sharon. As photo shows, hardy hibiscus, variegated.
    Hibiscus 'Sugar Tip' Picture of Hibiscus 'Sugar Tip.'. David Beaulieu

    Hibiscus 'Sugar Tip' is a rose of sharon with variegated leaves....

    This rose of sharon also produces double, pink flowers. Should you wish to browse plants with pink flowers, I have a separate photo gallery showing a variety of types.

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  • 13 of 25

    'Frosty Morn' Stonecrop

    Sedum 'Frosty Morn' picture. As the photo shows, Sedum 'Frosty Morn' has variegated leaves.
    A Variegated Sedum 'Frosty Morn' stonecrop picture. David Beaulieu

    'Frosty Morn' stonecrop plants bear bi-colored leaves....

    Frosty Morn stonecrop's name derives from the white or "frosty" edging displayed on its leaf margins, as shown in the photo. Like other succulents, such as hen and chicks, this perennial tolerates low-water conditions.

    Although this succulent does blossom, I value it most for its variegated leaves. As with 'Autumn Joy' stonecrop the flowers of this sedum appear in clusters atop the plant. The Missouri Botanical...MORE Garden observes that the flowers are white in warm climates (since the sun bleaches them) but pinkish in cooler climates.

    Other variegated stonecrops include:

    • Sedum spurium 'Tricolor'
    • Sedum 'Autumn Charm'
    • Sedum alboroseum 'Mediovariegatum'
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  • 14 of 25

    Photo of Ribbon Grass

    Ribbon grass picture. Ribbon grass two-toned ornamental, beautifully striped, as photo shows.
    A Striped Ornamental Grass Ribbon grass picture. David Beaulieu

    Ribbon grass is a striped ornamental grass. Another is zebra grass. The difference? The stripes of zebra grass cut across the blade, horizontally....

    While ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is an attractive plant, I do not recommend growing it, because it is quite aggressive. As a substitute, grow Carex 'Spark Plug'.

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  • 15 of 25

    Picture of Minute Man Hosta

    Picture of Minute Man hosta. As the photo shows, Minute Man hosta has variegated leaves.
    Variegation Pattern: Green Center, White Margin Picture of Minute Man hosta. David Beaulieu

    'Minute Man' hosta is one of several hosta plants that are variegated....

    Minute Man hosta plants' leaves are white around the edges, green at the center. These markings make Minute Man, like H. 'Patriot' and Patriot's parent, . 'Francee', examples of a so-called "marginally variegated" hosta. Both are best grown in partial to full shade.

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  • 16 of 25

    Picture of Actinidia Kolomikta

    The leaves of kiwi vines are tri-colored, as image shows. Spring colors of kiwi vines most vibriant.
    Spring Foliage Season? Image showing leaf color of kiwi vines. David Beaulieu

    Male kiwi vines bear small white flowers in spring....

    But the attraction in growing Actinidia kolomikta vines is their variegated foliage. As the leaves emerge in spring, they're green; but they soon pick up splotches of white. Even better, some leaves then develop pink tips. Coloration does, however, fade some as summer progresses.

    So the next time someone brings up the subject of fall foliage season, ask them, "Did you know that there's also a spring foliage season?" When they...MORE give you a funny look, explain that some plants, such as the one shown in this picture, actually produce their best foliage color in springtime, not autumn.

    Male Actinidia kolomikta vines put on a better foliar display than the females.

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  • 17 of 25

    Picture of Brunnera Macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

    Jack Frost picture.
    Siberian Bugloss a Member of the Borage Family Jack Frost picture. David Beaulieu

    Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' is a perennial plant with variegated leaves....

    The variegation of this Brunnera macrophylla plant (also known commonly as "Siberian bugloss") takes the form of silver leaves with dark green veining -- a nice contrast. Blue flowers are a favorite in the landscape, and Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' produces a plenitude of them in spring.

    The plant belongs to the Borage family (Boraginaceae). Besides the herb, borage, itself, other...MORE members of the family include:

     

     

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  • 18 of 25

    Harriet Waldman Japanese Maple

    Harriet Waldman Japanese maple leaves in 3 colors, As photo of Harriet Waldman shows.
    Tree of Three Colors. David Beaulieu

    'Harriet Waldman' is one of the Japanese maples....

    As the picture shows, Harriet Waldman's leaves display three colors: pink, white and green. It's the uppermost (newest) leaves that contain the most pink. Fall foliage will be yellow, orange or red, depending upon conditions. Harriet Waldman Japanese maple eventually reaches a height of 15 feet tall.

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  • 19 of 25

    Emerald and Gold Euonymus

    Emerald 'n Gold euonymus is variegated, bearing green and gold leaves, as this photo shows.
    Variegated Euonymus Plants 'Emerald and Gold' euonymus is a variegated evergreen shrub. David Beaulieu

    Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus has variegated foliage, which is green on the inside, gold on the outside....

    As such, it is the opposite of another euonymus, 'Moonshadow' euonymus, which is gold on the inside, green on the outside.

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  • 20 of 25

    Joseph's Coat Plant

    Alternanthera Partytime picture. Photo shows Alternanthera Partytime is variegated (pink, green).
    Joseph's Multi-Colored Coat? Picture of Joseph's coat (Alternanthera). David Beaulieu

    A few of the other plants in this photo gallery may be tri-colored, while Joseph's coat plant is merely bi-colored....

    But what Joseph's coat plant lacks in terms of quantity of colors, this tropical plant more than makes up for in terms of quality of color. This is one vibrantly colored specimen! Although Joseph's coat plant may be a perennial in tropical climes, it is treated as an annual in the North, where its color explosion can be used to punch up window boxes and the like...MORE during the summertime.

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  • 21 of 25

    Snow-on-the-Mountain Picture

    Picture of variegated Aegopodium. As the photo shows, variegated Aegopodium is a groundcover.
    Variegated Aegopodium Ground Cover Picture of snow-on-the-mountain (variegated Aegopodium). David Beaulieu

    Snow-on-the-mountain plant goes by a number of other common names, including "bishop's weed" and "goutweed"....

    Take the "weed" in those common names seriously, because snow-on-the-mountain plant (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum') will spread. But some people value snow-on-the-mountain as an option for a variegated flowering ground cover. Its flower is white and reminds one of a scraggly version of Queen Anne's lace.

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  • 22 of 25

    Daphne Bush Picture

    Picture of daphne's variegated foliage.
    'Carol Mackie' Has Variegated Foliage, Fragrant Blooms Picture of daphne's variegated foliage. David Beaulieu

    The daphne bush in this picture produces fragrant blossoms in spring; but its variegated leaves can be appreciated for the greater part of the year....

    This photo shows a cultivar named 'Carol Mackie.' A daphne bush with variegated foliage, this shrub also produces sweet-smelling flowers in spring.

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  • 23 of 25

    Maples With Variegated Leaves

    Some maples have variegated leaves.
    Picture of Variegated Maple Leaf Some maples have variegated leaves. David Beaulieu

    Although most types of maple trees are grown for their fall foliage, some maples are prized for their variegated leaves, such as the one shown here....

    Among the many maple trees with variegated foliage are Acer pseudoplatanus 'Brilliantissimum' and Acer rubescens 'Silver Cardinal.'

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  • 24 of 25

    'Wolf Eyes' Dogwood

    Picture of 'Wolf Eyes' dogwood. Wolf Eyes is a variegated Japanese dogwood (kousa).
    Picture of 'Wolf Eyes' Japanese Dogwood Tree Picture of 'Wolf Eyes' dogwood. David Beaulieu

    'Wolf Eyes' dogwood (Cornus kousa'Wolf Eyes') is one of the Japanese dogwoods (as opposed to the flowering dogwoods of North America). It has variegated foliage and white flowers....

    The effect of so much white is dazzling when this tree is in bloom. Berries follow the blooms for a fall display. But the fall foliage of Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) is much better than that of 'Wolf Eyes.'

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  • 25 of 25

    Moonshadow Euonymus

    Picture of Moonshadow euonymus shrub. Like Emerald Gaiety, Moonshadow euonymus is a variegated shrub
    Emerald 'n' Gold "Turned Inside Out" Picture of Moonshadow euonymus shrub. David Beaulieu

    There are various variegated euonymus shrubs, of which 'Moonshadow' euonymus is one....

     

    'Emerald Gaiety,' with its white and green variegation, is another. Moonshadow euonymus (Euonymus fortunei 'Moonshadow') has green and gold leaves, with the gold in the center and the green on the margins. As such, I tend to think of the coloration of this small evergreen shrub as an Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus (yet another choice if you desire bicolored leaves) "turned...MORE inside out"; on the latter, it is the gold that is on the edges of the leaves.

    As you can see in this picture of Moonshadow euonymus, though, the green and gold color scheme isn't consistent (nor is it consistent in Emerald 'n' Gold euonymus, for that matter). The gold is strongest on the newest leaves, while it tends to fade to a creamy color on the older ones. Still, the creamy color is attractive in its own right; besides, there are usually plenty of new leaves to supply you with the golden color.

    Moonshadow euonymus makes a better groundcover than does Emerald 'n' Gold, as it tends to stay shorter and spread out more horizontally. The outer branches bear a creamy yellow color, giving the overall plant a brighter appearance (as compared to Emerald 'n' Gold, whose outer branches are green). Both plants pick up a pink tinge when cold weather arrives, which boosts their value for winter interest.

    Here's another comparison with Emerald 'n' Gold: in my experience, fewer of Moonshadow euonymus' new branches exhibit reversion (that is, they don't revert back to the plain green color of their parentage).

    Of course, if you're a fan of classic rock, any mention of this ground cover's name will immediately call to mind the old Cat Stevens song, Moonshadow.

     

    Facts About Growing Moonshadow Euonymus:

     

    • Plant type: broadleaf evergreen shrub.
    • Where you can grow it: planting zones 5-8.
    • Growing conditions: full sun; well-drained, evenly moist soil of average fertility.
    • Mature height: 2 feet.
    • Spread at maturity: 4 feet.
    • Care: prune it frequently to shape it if you need to control its size (this shrub is not fussy about when you prune it), or else take a laid-back approach and let it grow naturally.
    • General appearance and function: multi-branched and shaped like a hassock, its dense branching pattern discourages weed growth, thereby making it an effective ground cover.