Plants with variegated leaves (showing patches of different contrasting colours) usually stand out from the masses of normal green foliage found in the garden. This gives these plants a strong point of differentiation and makes them stand out in the landscape. Variegated foliage is useful in gardens for creating contrasting colour combinations that attract the eye.

Be aware of the fact that variegated plants are usually not as vigorous growing as their green leaved relatives. If any signs of leaves turning green or reverting back to non-variegated forms are detected, they should be carefully cut off. If left to grow they can and usually do dominate the plant to the point that the variegation disappears.

This is a list of plants for KwaZulu-Natal gardens – both cold, temperate climates and warm sub-tropical regions. Check on climatic preferences before making any final selections.

Annuals and perennials (low growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Acorus gramineus ‘Golden Edge’ (Japanese rush) (E)
Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’ (Japenese rush) (E)
Aechmea gamosepala ‘Lucky Stripe’ (matchstick bromeliad) (E)
Agapanthus africanus ‘Summer Gold’ (dwarf variegated agapanthus) (E) (I)
Agapanthus praecox subsp orientalis ‘Zambesi’ (tall variegated agapanthus) (E) (I)
Aglaonema commutatum Hybrids (Chinese evergreen) (E) – Note many different forms in cultivation
Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ (carpet bugle) (ED)
Alternanthera bettzickiana (joyweed or copperleaf) (E) – Note: many alternanthera types are variegated
Bilbergia pyramidalis ‘Striata’ (variegated summer torch) (E)
Calathea zebrina (giant zebra plant) (E)
Canna hybrida ‘King of Siam’ (variegated canna) (D (B) – Note: there a few different variegated cannas
Carex hachijoensis ‘Evergold’ (variegated sedge) (E)
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’ (hen and chickens) (E) (I)
Chlorophytum saundersiae ‘Starlight’ (variegated weeping anthericum) (E) (I)
Chlorophytum ‘Yellow Wave’ (wavy hen and chicks) (E) (I)
Ctenanthe oppenheimiana ‘Tricolor’ (giant bamburanta) (E)
Dieffenbachia amoena (dumb cane) (E) – Note: many different variegated forms in cultivation
Epipremnum aureum or Scindapsus aureus (golden pothos) (E) (C)
Felicia bergeriana ‘Variegata’ (variegated kingfisher daisy) (E) (I)
Fittonia albinevis (nerve plant or mosaic plant) (E)
Hedera helix Hybrids (variegated English ivy) – Note: many variegated forms in cultivation
Hosta ‘Yellow Spot’ (plantain lily) (D) Note: many variegated hosta cultivars exist in gardens
Hypoestes sanguinolenta (polka dot plant) (E)
Liriope muscari ‘Silver Ribbon’ (silver lily turf) (E)
Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’ (variegated lily turf) (D)
Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’ (variegated applemint) (E)
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silver’ (variegated grass) (D)
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ (zebra grass) (D)
Neoregelia ‘Donger’ (variegated bromeliad) – Note many bromeliads, especially neoregelias have variegated foliage
Ophiopogon jaburan ‘Vittatus’ (tall variegated mondo grass) (E)
Ophiopogon japonica ‘Variegata’ (short variegated mondo grass) (E)
Pelargonium zonale ‘Mrs Pollock’ (variegated geranium) (E)
Pelargonium zonale ‘Wilhelm Languth’ (variegated geranium) (E)
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ (baby rubber tree) (E)
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’ (rainbow fountain grass) (D)
Philodendron scandens ‘Mica’ or ‘Brasil’ (sweetheart plant) (E) (C)
Pilea cadieri (aluminium plant) (E)
Plectranthus madaagascariensis var madaagascariensis (variegated spurflower) (E) (I)
Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina’ (golden variegated sage) (E)
Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’ (variegated sage) (E)
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (mother-in-laws-tongue) (E)
Solenostemon scuttelarioides (Joseph’s coat or coleus) (E) – Note: many variegated coleus hybrids are in cultivation
Succulent: Aeonium decorum ‘Kiwi’ (variegated bush houseleek) (E)
Succulent: Aptenia cordifolia ‘Variegata’ (variegated ice plant) (E) (I)
Succulent: Crassula ovata ‘Variegata’ (variegated jade plant) (E) (I)
Succulent: Haworthia attenuata (zebra plant) (E) (I)
Succulent: Plectranthus neochilus ‘Variegatus’ (variegated lobster flower) (E) (I)
Succulent: Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’ – (variegated porkbush) (E) (I)
Thymus citriodorus ‘Mystic Lemon’ (variegated lemon thyme) (E)
Thymus citriodorus ‘Sambesi’ (low growing lemon thyme) (E)
Tropaeolum majus ‘Alaska’ (variegated nasturtium) (E)
Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’ (variegated wild garlic) (E) (B)
Vriesea splendens (flaming sword bromeliad) (E)

Shrubs and climbers (medium to tall growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Abelia x grandiflora ‘Confetti’ (variegated abelia) (E)
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ (golden variegated abelia) (E)
Acalypha wilkesiana Hybrids and cultivars (copperleaf) (E)
Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ (Japanese laurel) (E)
Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Tropical Rainbow’ (variegated bougainvillea) (ED) (C) – Note: many bougainvillea hybrids have variegated leaves
Carissa macrocarpa ‘Variegata’ (variegated amatingulu) (E) (I)
Caryopteris clandonensis ‘Summer Sorbet’ (variegated blue spiraea) (D)
Citrofortunella microcarpa ‘Variegata’ (variegated calamondin) (E)
Codiaeum variegatum Hybrids and cultivars (croton) (E) – Note: many crotons have colourful leaves
Coprosma repens ‘Marble Chips’ (mirror bush) (E)
Coprosma repens ‘Picturata’ (mirror bush) (E)
Cordyline banksii ‘Electric Pink’ (cabbage tree) (E)
Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’ (striped dracaena) (E) – Note: there are many dracaenas with variegated foliage
Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ (corn plant) (E)
Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’ (variegated pleomele) (E)
Dracaena sanderiana ‘Variegata’ (variegated lucky bamboo) (E)
Duranta ‘Goldmine’ (golden dewdrop) (ED)
Duranta repens ‘Aussie’ (golden dewdrop) (ED)
Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ (Russian silver olive) (E)
Euonymous japonicus ‘Aureomarginatus’ (Japanese spindle) (E)
Euryops pectinatus ‘Variegatus’ (variegated golden daisy) (E) (I)
Hebe x franciscana ‘Variegata’ (variegated veronica) (E)
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Mattensis’ (variegated hibiscus) (E)
Hoya carnosa ‘Variegata’ (variegated wax vine) (E) (C)
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Maculata’ (variegated hydrangea) (D)
Hypericum x moserianum ‘Tricolor’ (variegated St. John’s wort) (D)
Leucadendron ‘Jester’ (variegated cone bush) (E) (I)
Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’ (golden privet) (D)
Pandorea jasminoides ‘Charisma’ (variegated bower plant) (E) (C)
Phormium ‘Pink Stripe’ (New Zealand flax) (E)
Phormium ‘Yellow Wave’ (New Zealand flax) (E)
Photinia x fraseri ‘Louise’ (variegated photinia) (E)
Polyscias fruticosa ‘Variegata’ (variegated ming aralia) (E)
Sanchezia nobilis (tiger plant) (E)
Senecio tamoides ‘Variegata’ (variegated canary creeper) (E) (I) (C)
Solanum rantonnetii ‘Variegatum’ (variegated potato bush) (ED)
Succulent: Agave americana ‘Medio – Picta’ (variegated century plant) (E) – Note: there are many different agaves with variegated foliage
Succulent: Agave angustifolia ‘Variegata’ (narrow leaf century plant) (E)
Succulent: Agave desmettiana ‘Joe Hoak’ (century plant) (E)
Succulent: Furcraea foetida var mediopicta (Mauritius hemp) (E)
Succulent: Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’ (zig zag plant) (D)
Succulent: Senecio macroglossus ‘Variegatus’ (variegated Natal ivy) (E) (I)
Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Summer Sunset’ (golden star jasmine) (E) (C)
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Chameleon’ (cream flecked star jasmine) (E) (C)
Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Variegata’ (variegated star jasmine) (E) (C)
Viburnum tinus ‘Variegata’ (variegated laurestinus) (E)
Yucca elephantipes ‘Variegata’ (variegated Spanish bayonet) (E)

Trees (tall growing)

Acer negundo ‘Elegantissima’ (ghost maple) (D)
Ficus aspera (clown fig) (E)
Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ (variegated rubber tree) (E)
Ficus benjamina ‘Golden King’ (variegated weeping fig) (E)
Ficus benjamina ‘Starlight’ (white variegated weeping fig) (E)
Ficus microcarpa ‘Hawaii’ (variegated Indian laurel) (E)
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Variegata’ (variegated sweet gum) (D)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Whilst every care and caution has been taken in compiling these lists in terms of correctness and accuracy, Blackwood’s, nor any of their employees can be held liable or responsible if any of the recommendations are found to be incorrect in any way whatsoever. They are merely a guide to help gardeners and staff in finding solutions to gardening problems. All plants listed may not be available for sale at times. They do however all grow in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area and are to be found growing successfully in local gardens.