01 of 25
Variegated Dogwood Shrub
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... 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.Continue to 2 of 25 below.
02 of 25
Photo of Lamium Galeobdolon: What the Plant Looks Like
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... 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.Continue to 3 of 25 below.
03 of 25
Yellow Loosestrife Picture
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.Continue to 4 of 25 below.
04 of 25
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.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
05 of 25
Garden Phlox Picture
'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.Continue to 6 of 25 below.
06 of 25
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.Continue to 7 of 25 below.
07 of 25
Photo of Iris Pallida 'Aureo-Variegata'
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.Continue to 8 of 25 below.
08 of 25
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... re-seed readily if you don't deadhead them.Continue to 9 of 25 below.
09 of 25
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.Continue to 10 of 25 below.
10 of 25
Tricolor Beech Photo
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.Continue to 11 of 25 below.
11 of 25
Sweet Tea Heucherella
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... is named for the color of its blooms, I regard its leaves as its best feature.Continue to 12 of 25 below.
12 of 25
13 of 25
'Frosty Morn' Stonecrop
'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... Garden observes that the flowers are white in warm climates (since the sun bleaches them) but pinkish in cooler climates.
Other variegated stonecrops include:
Continue to 14 of 25 below.
- Sedum spurium 'Tricolor'
- Sedum 'Autumn Charm'
- Sedum alboroseum 'Mediovariegatum'
14 of 25
Photo of Ribbon Grass
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'.Continue to 15 of 25 below.
15 of 25
Picture of Minute Man Hosta
'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.Continue to 16 of 25 below.
16 of 25
Picture of Actinidia Kolomikta
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... 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.Continue to 17 of 25 below.
17 of 25
Picture of Brunnera Macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
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... members of the family include:
Continue to 18 of 25 below.
- Anchusa spp.
- Myosotis spp.
18 of 25
Harriet Waldman Japanese Maple
'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.Continue to 19 of 25 below.
19 of 25
Emerald and Gold Euonymus
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.Continue to 20 of 25 below.
20 of 25
Joseph's Coat Plant
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... during the summertime.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
21 of 25
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.Continue to 22 of 25 below.
22 of 25
Daphne Bush Picture
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.Continue to 23 of 25 below.
23 of 25
Maples With Variegated Leaves
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.'Continue to 24 of 25 below.
24 of 25
'Wolf Eyes' Dogwood
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.'Continue to 25 of 25 below.
25 of 25
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... 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.