Gardeners often choose variegated leaves to spice up a bed and add visual interest. Foliage on some plants act as the star and complement the flowers of other plants in the bed. But why not have both? These variegated plants give you both pretty blooms and exciting foliage.
Hydrangea is a small-medium flowering, ornamental shrub with large clusters of four-petalled flowers. It grows well in zones 6 through 9 and is prized for its showy flowers that can range from deep magenta or blue to palest green and white.
Most hydrangeas have solid green leaves, but this variegated type has foliage as striking as its blooms. They are bright green with white margins that perfectly set off pink-white flowers.
Also known as stonecrop, sedum is a popular flowering perennial that grows well in most areas of the U.S. Sedum is a succulent with fleshy leaves and stems, and clusters of tiny flowers in a range of colors.
Variegated sedum is unique for its multicolored foliage. While there are many, many varieties of sedum, this is one of very few with variegation. The leaves are a grayish-green with white margins that turn blush pink as the weather cools.
Harlequin Butterfly Bush
Gardeners love butterfly bush for its ability to attract pollinators. This is a fast-growing shrub that does well in zones 6 through 9 and stays evergreen in its warmer range. The flowers are spike-shaped clusters of small lavender, purple, pink, or white blooms.
The flowers on the harlequin variety are a deep reddish-pink. The leaves are long and narrow like other types, but rather than solid green, they are light green with pale yellow margins.
Sunstruck Oxeye Sunflower
Even among plants with variegated leaves, this sunflower is unique. The Sunstruck cultivar of Heliopsis helianthoides is much smaller than other types. It grows rapidly to a little over a foot (30 cm.) tall.
The small, cheerful yellow flowers on this small sunflower are complemented by unusual oblong leaves. They are creamy white with deep green veining, giving them a shimmering appearance that really stands out in a flower bed.
Phlox paniculata Becky Towe
Becky Towe is a cultivar of garden phlox, a tall, clump forming plant with pretty, delicate flowers in shades of pink, lavender, and white. This is a wildflower native to many areas of the U.S.
A cultivar of native phlox, Becky Towe has unique variegation on its leaves. They are green with golden variegation, which tones down to a butter yellow as the flowers bloom. Also unique to this cultivar is the deep salmon color of the flowers.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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