February 2018

Variegated foliage perks up the landscape

The variegated leaves of Alaska Mix nasturtium not only look good, they taste good, too. So do the flowers. © iStockphoto/J. E. Vader

If you are tired of all-green leaves here are four plants with beautiful variegated foliage that spark up the landscape.


‘Alaska Mix’ nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) has green leaves splotched with creamy white markings and orange, red, yellow or salmon flowers. A cool-season annual, it tends to flag a bit when it gets too hot. ‘Alaska Mix’ is available from Renee’s Garden and Burpee.  Nasturtiums can be found at area garden centers for spring planting. Grow in sun to part shade in containers, hanging baskets or in the veggie garden. Add leaves and flowers in salads for a peppery flavor.

Annual vine

‘Pink Frost’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) has green and cream colored leaves with pink highlights. Grow sweet potato vine in full sun to light shade in a container or hanging basket. Sweet potato vine also makes a lovely seasonal ground cover. Available at most garden centers.


You just can’t beat Hosta when it comes to variegated foliage. There are hundreds of patterns that combine green or blue leaves with white, cream, pale yellow or gold markings. Hosta does best in shade to part shade, although a few cultivars can take some sun. Variegated hosta is great for brightening dark shade. Hosta is hardy in USDA Zones 3 through 9. Variegated hostas are readily available at garden centers and through online retailers.

Perennial vine

Arctic Beauty kiwi fruit (Actinidia kolomikta) has green, white and pink leaves and some variation of each. Hardy to USDA Zones 3 through 8, you need a male and female plant to get the edible fruit. Easily trained to a trellis or fence, September Sun is the female and Pashi is a male. Hardy kiwi plant tolerates part shade. This one may be hard to find, so try asking a garden center to order for you. Plants are available from Jung Seed and Terratorial Seed.


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