Variegated leaves are splashed, striped, or spotted with white, gold, pink, and other colors. Garden designers are told to beware not to use too many or they will clash. I don’t have any secret formula, but I have dozens, maybe hundreds of variegated plants in my garden. And it looks just fine to me.
This is one of a handful of variegated Yucca varieties in my garden. I think the first is Yucca ‘Golden Sword and the second ‘Color Guard’.
‘Carol Mackie’ Daphne has very fragrant blooms and foliage that brightens a lightly shaded spot in the garden.
Variegated bigleaf Hydrangea works great in partial shade. Flower buds are sometimes Winter damaged, so it isn’t a dependable bloomer, but the variegated foliage is lush and it makes a great ornamental even when it doesn’t bloom.
Variegated Pseudoacorus in the pond planted next to a dark leafed Elephant ear (Colocassia). It can be planted in water, or other damp ground.
Caladium is an annual tropical for shady spots in the garden. I’ve found that it grows much better in the ground than in a container, since I can never seem to keep it from drying out in a pot.
‘White Giant’ Calla lily with an oversized white calla bloom and variegated leaves almost as large as elephant ears. Most Calla lilies are not hardy in the mid-Atlantic region, but this one has survived three Winters in my garden.
‘Flaming Silver’ Pieris japonica, sometimes called Andromeda, is a wonderful deer resistant plant for sun to part shade. In my garden it is susceptible to lacebug, but well worth a little trouble. New growth is red, changing to green with white edges. And it has lily-of-the-valley type blooms in March.
Variegated Japanese iris is a great perennial to plant in the shallows of a pond, a damp area, or in drier soil in full sun. While its blooms last only a week or two the green and white striped leaves remain stiffly upright and are ornamental from late Spring through October.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of varieties of hosta. Most are valued for their leaves that range from greens, blues, and yellows to variegated combinations with white or yellow. Some varieties will tolerate part sun, but they work best in partial shade. Most hostas are premium dinner fare for deer, although some of the large leafed varieties with thick, waxy leaves seem to be resistant.
‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple is a slow growing upright grower that works great in a small garden.
There are many more trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals with variegated foliage in my garden, and perhaps hundreds more available. I’ll be adding more this Spring.