What are Variegated Succulents?
The succulents with striations, spots, spatters, shadings, or patterns on any part are considered variegated succulents. Mostly, variegated plants are misunderstood and thought they have only striped leaves. But their leaves, stems, flowers, or trunk may have multiple colors within the same structure. In other words, the variegated succulents are di or tri-colored plants. The colored patterns are either lighter shades of green or other colors, but it is not mandatory to have a clear line or marking for each hue.
Variegation may appear in baby succulents or older plants, becoming more prominent with age and sun exposure.
Image Credit: plantsbank.com
What Causes Succulents to Be Variegated?
Mainly, there are two causes of striations in the succulents:
1. The plant colors are due to the pigments distributed throughout the plant body. Chlorophyll is the primary pigment responsible for the green hue, but colors other than green are because of the pigments present in varying distributions.
A variegated succulent leaf results from uneven distribution of chlorophyll and other pigments. If you see the leaves with different shades of green, it means there is more chlorophyll in dark green areas, while light green portions have less chlorophyll. White or yellow stripes, margins, spots, or patterns within the leaves show that the chlorophyll-producing cells are not present in lighter portions. So, you may also call it an absence of color.
Additional pigments such as anthocyanin and carotenoid impact other colors such as blue, pink, red-orange, or purple. The chlorophyll is also present in such plants, but bright colors overshadow green.
2. Another reason for variegation in succulents is the genetic mutations in which plants could not adapt to their environment, resulting in a change of plant color. In this case, some succulents can pass this varied coloration feature to offspring, but others cannot do it. When succulents cannot maintain the variegation in offspring, succulent propagation is the best method. You can propagate succulents from leaves quickly and grow as many colored succulents as you want. Click here to learn how to do succulent dry propagation.
How to Care Variegated Succulents?
Caring variegated succulents is simple, and they don't need a sophisticated environment. All you need is to raise them in the right light and temperature.
As the leaves of variegated succulents are usually small and sensitive, exposing them to highly bright sunlight will result in sunburn. You can allow indirect light during the hottest part of the day; otherwise, keep the pot where it can receive an adequate amount of light. Turning the sides of variegated succulents also gives good results.
Similarly, don’t expose variegated succulents to extreme temperature or frost, and you can keep your plant between 65F to 75F. Plus, water variegated succulent when the succulent soil is dried. If you see some branches have a risk of rot or getting plant problems, it is better to propagate variegated succulents. Click here to learn how to save overwatered succulents.
Can Variegated Succulents Turn Back to Normal?
Variegated succulents can turn back to normal and depend on variegation's cause. Typically, a plant may turn completely green in the ideal growth conditions. The intensity of light, watering, temperature, and plant locations are prime factors that also contribute to variegations.
On the other hand, it cannot turn back to normal if the genetic mutation causes succulent's variegation that goes in generations.
5 Popular Variegated Succulents
Ceropegia Woodii f. Variegata / String of Heart Variegata
String of Heart Variegata, is a beautiful trailing succulent with pink, creamy yellow, and green shade heart-shaped leaves. With more indirect sun exposure, the pink shade will be broader. Unlike some summer dormant succulents, String of Heart Variegata can grow very well indoors. The small pink "high-heel" shaped flowers appear in summer. This variety doesn't like sitting in moisture-potting soil. You need to use gritty soil to grow it in medium size planter pot. After its bulb roots stabilize the environment, you can propagate this variety by stem cuttings. The ideal propagating season is spring.
String of Hearts variegata is not hardy succulent. The suitable temperature for it to thrive is from 27F to 45F.
Anacampseros Telephiastrum 'Variegata'
Anacampseros Telephiastrum 'Variegata', commonly known as Anacampseros Telephiastrum 'Sunrise.' The succulent is native to South Africa as a part of the Portulacaceae succulent family. The attractive container succulent is known for the bright color of the leaves, and the variegation rosette shows an intense rose that creeps into lime and emerald green. You can expect to enjoy its flower in the summer.
Anacampseros Telephiastrum 'Variegata' is hardy to zone 10a-11b (from 30F to 50F).
Aeonium Kiwi is another variegated succulent that shows yellow-green colored leaves with pink or reddish borders. It may give four colors like green, yellow, white, and red, but you need to give ideal conditions or grow in a greenhouse for these colors. Aeonium Kiwi is easy to care for, and you can grow it in full sun to partial shade.
The plant is drought tolerant, so you can manage watering when the soil is arid. Above all, this plant goes dormant in the summer and grows best in winter. Aeonium Kiwi is hardy to zone 9-11.
Image Credit: succulentsandsunshine.com
Sempervivum Corsair is a bristly-leafy variegated succulent commonly known as Houseleek or Hen and chicks. The plant forms clusters of pink-red medium rosettes that are green in early stages but develop stunning coloration with age. The flowers of Sempervivum are small, pink, and borne on stout stems in summer.
Sempervivum Corsair is not difficult to care for, but remember to grow it in well-draining soil not to waterlog. This plant is hardy to zone 4a-10a.
Image Credit: rhs.org.uk
Cotyledon tomentosa, commonly known as variegated bear's paw, is a small rare succulent that can grow up to 30cm in height.
The plant has thick, wedge-like leaves with yellow striations and edged in small reddish teeth that give it the look of a bear’s claw. Cotyledon tomentosa also has fine tiny white hairs on leaves giving the plant a velvety look. Bears’ paw plant is hardy to zone 9b-11b.