Variegated Succulents: The Ultimate Guide

Variegated succulents are one of the best eye-catching plants anyone can have in their garden. With such beautiful patterns, color combinations, and unique structures, it’s almost a sin not to get one. So, what exactly is a variegated succulent?

Variegation is caused by a form of genetic mutation that can occur in any type of plant. This mutation via a genetic accident results in varied colors of leaves, flowers, or stems within one structure. That’s why we see many colors appearing in different variegated succulents.

If you want to know more about these plants before buying one, then we’ve got you covered. This article will serve as your ultimate guide to variegated succulents!

What Are Variegated Succulents?

In simple terms, variegated succulents are succulent plants that have different patterns and colors in a single structure. Their unique and colorful appearance is a result of a genetic mutation called variegation.

Since variegation can come in many forms, the succulent plant’s appearance isn’t limited to having striped foliage. It can have varying colored patterns such as:

  • Spatters
  • Blotches
  • Stripes
  • Shadings
  • Spots

What’s more interesting is that these patterns and different colors can also appear in many other plants. For example, trees can have a unique pattern on their leaves with more than one color.

The best part is that each hue blends together. There are no noticeable lines to separate each color.

How Does a Plant Become Variegated?

The different hues we see in a variegated plant are a result of the lack of chlorophyll in its cells. While some plants are naturally variegated, the same can’t be said for house plants.

Colorful succulent

This means that there are other causes for variegation, and they are as follows:

1.   Natural Variegation

Natural variegation is when the color traits of a plant are inherited or are a natural part of its physiology. This type of variegation is stable, which means the pattern stays on the plant as its permanent appearance.

Natural variegation can be further classified into three types, depending on the genetic mutation. These types are:

  • Chimeral: Cell mutation occurs in the layers of the plant’s shoot tips
  • Blister or reflective: Presence of air pockets between the plant’s epidermis and midrib
  • Pattern: The variegation pattern is consistent throughout the plant’s leaves

2.   Chemical Variegation (Artificial)

Another way to propagate variegation is with the use of certain chemicals. The most commonly used chemical in this artificial process is ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), a strong mutagen found in herbicides.

However, this process isn’t fully recommended as it could be harmful to you and your plant. The variegation results also tend to be temporary.

3.   Virus Infection

If a plant catches a certain type of virus, it can cause uniform chlorosis on it. As there is no cure for plant viruses, the variegation is permanent.

Cactus Virus x is an example of a disease that results in succulent variegation. It can cause reddening or speckles.

4.   Radiation

While it’s less likely to happen, radiation can also cause variegation in plants. Radiation exposure can alter a plant’s DNA and ultimately affect its appearance and other traits.

However, the results of mutation by radiation can’t be controlled and are usually undesirable.

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How Do You Take Care of Variegated Succulents?

Variegated succulents may seem like complex plants, but don’t be intimidated. Taking care of them doesn’t need too much effort.

The most important thing to remember is to keep them in an environment with adequate light and a balanced temperature.

If you expose them to too much light, it could result in sunburn. On the other hand, too much shade can stunt their growth since they already have a limited chlorophyll level.

As for the ideal temperature, the usual range is between 65° to 75°F. However, some breeds can tolerate low temps like 40°F or up to 90°F. Generally, variegated succulents don’t do well in extreme temperatures, especially frosting ones.

Lastly, water them only when their succulent soil has completely dried up. Fill the pot until the water’s dripping out of its drainage hole.

What Are the Most Common Variegated Succulents?

Now that we’ve learned more about variegated succulents, you’re probably looking for some plant recommendations. You have a myriad of colors to choose from, but it all depends on which catches your eye and fits well in your home or garden.

Regardless of the purpose, these succulents are flexible to almost any kind of setup. You can always get creative with how you arrange them. As long as you take good care of these plants, they’ll be able to bring more life and color to your garden.

On that note, here are some of the most popular variegated succulents:

1.   Sempervivum Corsair

Hen and chicks succulent

Sempervivum Corsair, or commonly known as hen and chicks, is a late-bloomer succulent. Its bristly leaves are formed in a rosette pattern and have a green color at birth.

As soon as the plant starts to grow, it begins developing a pinkish-red color on the inner clusters. This succulent looks best during summer when it’s in full bloom. It almost looks like an oversized rose with a lighter shade.

2.   Aeonium Kiwi

Aeonium Kiwi is one of the top go-tos of succulent lovers. This plant is a sub-shrub, so it doesn’t grow as tall as other house plants. At most, it can reach up to 30 cm in height and spread.

However, its size pales in comparison to its lovely appearance. Its beautiful tricolor shade (yellow, green, and pink or red) is what makes it stand out among other succulents.

Aeonium Kiwi goes dormant during summer and has yellow blossoms. It grows best during winter.

3.   Echeveria Compton Carousel

Echeveria Compton Carousel is an attractive plant that has a unique blend of colors. Its leaves have a mix of blue and gray with cream-colored edges and a slight hint of pink for its tips.

Like the sempervivum corsair, it also follows a rosette cluster pattern. It blooms a red flower with yellowish tips during summer. It can grow up to 30 cm and will gracefully arch once it does.

If you’re looking to add this to your collection, you might have a hard time finding one. This succulent is highly sought after, and as such, it’ll likely be pricier than other plants.

4.   Variegated String of Hearts / Rosary Vine

A heart-shaped succulent sounds like it came straight out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Well, your eyes don’t deceive you. The Variegated String of Hearts does have heart-shaped leaves stemming out of it.

This succulent is one of the best picks for indoor plants. While some succulents are dormant during summer, this plant can actually grow well indoors.

It’s no wonder the Variegated String of Hearts is another succulent that’s in demand. Its heart-shaped leaves have a perfect blend of gray, green, and pink hues.

5.   Echeveria Dionysos

Echeveria Dionysos

Echeveria Dionysos is also a succulent that follows a rosette structure. Compared to the other succulents, it has a more distinct dark tone to its colors.

Its olive green leaves are thick and fleshy with a red or dark brown tip. Traces of gray and white spots can also be found on the plant, forming an irregular pattern.

This succulent thrives in bright sunlight so that it can keep its colors and rosette structure intact. However, you should be careful of cold temperatures, as it’s quite sensitive and can easily die from frost.

Also Check: How Often to Fertilize Succulents?

Wrap Up: Variegated Succulents

Choosing which variegated succulent to add to your home or garden can be a tough choice. After all, they make such good decorations, and there’s a lot to choose from.

While they aren’t high-maintenance plants, it’s still best to pay attention to their needs. Their colors and appearance can easily fade or wilt if ignored.

However, with just a little TLC, you can keep them in their best shape and full bloom.