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.
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Variegation may appear in baby succulents or older plants, becoming more prominent with age and sun exposure.
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.
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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 65oF to 75oF. 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.
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Similarly, if you want to maintain variegation, remove any of your plant’s solid green growth that could be either a branch or offset. This is necessary because a branch with more pigment will eventually turn the whole plant into plain green succulent.
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
Crassula Burgundy is a variegated succulent with reddish branches and burgundy leaves’ margins. The leaves are long and flattened with red borders that become deep red with proper care and growth. Crassula burgundy variegated prefers bright filtered sunlight and ideal light maintains attractive coloration. But like other variegated plants, the leaves of Crassula are sensitive to extreme temperature and may get burned so, avoid full sun exposure in scorching summer. Click here to learn succulent summer care.
The plant shows greenish-white flowers that make it even more beautiful. Plus, Crassula Burgundy is hardy to zone 10a-11b.
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.
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Echeveria Dionysos is a unique and attractive small succulent that forms a compact rosette of deep olive-green, grey-green, or white-green leaves. The leaves have irregular reddish-brown spots and border that neatly defines the margins of the leaves. The rosettes of Echeveria Dionysos slowly grow up to 3 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. The plant produces red-yellow flowers that make it spellbound. Plus, the USDA hardiness zone of Echeveria Dionysos is 9a-11b.
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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.
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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.
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