Variegated Leaves for Zest

Variegated leaves, like hostas, add zest to the garden.

Credit: Flickr / Roberto Verzo

Variegated leaves add zest to the garden. Botanists delineate six causes for variegation.

The bold leaves of Hosta ‘Wide Brim’ demonstrate one: its leaves have distinct layers of tissue, each with varying amounts of pigment.

The paler, mutated tissue outlines the margin due to the way the immature leaf develops. In Persicaria tenuicaulis ‘Langhorn’s Variety,’ the deeper red near the midrib and along the margin reflects the higher concentration of pigments in those cells.

A third variegation mechanism is seen in Lamium galeobdolon ‘Hermann’s Pride’ – its white spots are caused by air blisters just beneath the leaf surface.

With more than 30 years experience in horticulture in B.C. – in wholesale, retail and at VanDusen Botanical Garden for a decade – Carolyn Jones brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to GardenWise and as staff horticulturist.