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Variegated "variegated" indoor plants

Everything you need to know about pandering

It is not new that plants contain the pigment chlorophyll , thanks to which they not only get their green color, but also thanks to it, through photosynthesis, they draw energy for their growth and existence. There are quite a few pigments in the plant kingdom, but among the most popular is the white so-called variegation . And this article is devoted to variegated plants and variegated plants.


In both the plant and animal kingdoms, variegation or variegation is a deviation from the usual coloration. Variegation refers to parts of plants that lose their usually green color, instead of which pale white or yellowish to yellow shades appear. The light coloring is the result of a decrease or complete absence of chlorophyll - the green pigment. In addition to the attractive and unusual coloring, this entails a few specific "problems" that variegated plants often face. But before we get into the specific effects of white variegation, let's explore some of the history and theory around…

Origin and types of variegations

Variegation can be caused by a genetic disorder (gene mutation) or a virus, physiological damage to the plant or artificial genetic modification. Plants with variegation, which is caused by natural development or genetic disorder and mutation, can commonly occur in nature. However, due to the attractiveness of the unusual appearance, variegation of plants has also been induced artificially - in the laboratory. What is the difference between them?

Natural variegation

This is a variegation that occurs naturally. It can be a gene mutation that appears in the plant "accidentally" or even on purpose. By chance, variegation is seen as a "disease" that can negatively affect the plant's viability (less chlorophyll can mean less energy for survival). However, the white coloring can also give plants some advantages - some plants are pollinated more often due to their variegation, and in some cases even in the dark. Plants can also use variegation and various pigment patterns as protection or camouflage from animals. But beware, for example, the rule of nature can also apply here - everything that is different or colored is poisonous and unsuitable for consumption.

Interesting fact: If the word variegata is written in the second place of the Latin name of the plant, it should refer to naturally occurring variegation - so-called that the plant acquired its variegation in the wild.

Artificial variegation

This variegation was created thanks to external intervention, for example by humans - in the case of houseplants primarily for the purpose of increasing their attractiveness. Several procedures are used from crossing to chemical development of coloration. The chosen procedure can subsequently reflect the extent and "duration" of the induced mottling.

Photo: Leaf of variegated Monstera Albo Variegata

Variegated plants

We now know that variegation can be both naturally and artificially induced atypical coloring of a plant. In the wild, however, there are species for which this is a completely normal matter, as well as species for which this is a rare exception. Based on the affiliation of the plants to these two groups, different price offers on the market also develop.

If you are even a little interested in the world of houseplants, you certainly have not missed these very popular variegated species such as Monstera Albo Variegata and Monstera Thai Constellation (a rarer variety with a cream color). The first mentioned definitely belongs to the group of rare maids, but it is still more affordable than the even rarer "Thai". The latest hit was the variegated Monstera Monkey mask.

Other popular albinos are philodendron species (Philodendron white princess - more common or rare Philodendron White knight or wizard) or also Syngonium Albo variegata and various types of hoyas (wax trees).

However, there are also other plants that are variegated, which you can also find in our offer on the e-shop. Among our favorites are ficuses Tineke or Triangularis variegata , variegated candlestick , hibiscus or variegated scapula.

Photo: Ficus Tineke


Specific care and "problems" in variegated plants

As variegation is associated with a loss of chlorophyll, variegated plants can be more demanding compared to classic greens. However, this does not mean that they require extreme care - this is more likely to be required by collectible and rare pieces, such as the previously mentioned Monstera monkey mask variegata.

Plants, like us humans, are different, some can be more prone and sensitive, others, on the contrary, very resistant - regardless of their coloration. However, in connection with variegation, if you want to have a beautiful and most distinctly variegated plant, you need to take care of its variegation.


In general, we can say that the variegation on the plant tends to remain pronounced if the plant has enough light . We can defend this fact by saying that the more light the plant receives, the more the limited number of chlorophyll will create sufficient energy. In the shade, there is less sun and therefore less energy is produced. For this reason, in the absence of light, the variegation disappears and is reduced. In winter, when there is a natural decrease in daylight, we can replace the natural source with the help of special light bulbs.

Caution: on the other hand, we must be careful of direct light, which could quickly burn the white parts and create unwanted and unsightly brown spots on them. Many growers make the critical mistake of placing such a plant in full sun and the plant quickly dies. If we want to give such plants the sun, but without dying, consider the northwest or north side of the windows, when the sun is weakest and will shine on the plant for about 2-3 hours.


Variegated plants are also susceptible to proper and balanced watering. Due to the reduced chlorophyll content (and reduced energy intake), plants usually grow more slowly and therefore also absorb water slowly. It is therefore likely that they will need a different frequency and volume of watering than other green plants.

Attention: variegated plants can be easily overwatered or, on the contrary, dried - both result in damage to the leaves and thus to the entire plant. In connection with watering, we must also be careful with fertilizer - over-fertilizing can also leave the leaves damaged.


Varieties generally need higher air humidity to keep the white parts without chlorophyll alive as long as possible. It is therefore advisable to grow plants (especially the rarer ones) in a greenhouse, for example, where we can provide them with both moisture and heat, or purchase a home humidifier.

Attention: for variegated plants, it is not advisable to increase the humidity by dewing. This is because the drops we spray on the leaf can leave brown spots on the white parts of the leaves. Rather than dewing, we can wipe the leaves with a damp cloth - however, the mentioned greenhouse will work best - higher humidity with t.

Photo: Typical blemish of brown spots and leaf death.


And now the most common mistakes...

Variegated is a pigment deviation that unfortunately brings with it certain specific problems, which are not talked about as much anymore. So, what is good to keep in mind and what should you mentally prepare for in advance when acquiring variegated room beauties?

Browning and drying of the leaves: we have already mentioned the recommended care that variegated plants require. However, the browning and drying of the leaves - especially the variegated parts - is unfortunately also a natural life cycle of variegated plants. What does it mean?

It has already been said several times here that variegation is caused by a lack of chlorophyll. Thanks to this, the plant receives less energy. At the same time, it is natural for plants to get rid of such parts that weaken them over time in favor of their own survival. The white parts can thus naturally leave in favor of further plant growth.


"But that's the real magic of variegated plants - it's actually a miracle that needs to be thoroughly enjoyed before it passes. Some plants can be beautifully variegated for a long time, others for a while. They can thus remind us of the natural cycle of life and at the same time teach us to enjoy the present moments."


Reverting, “Half-moon” and “Ghost” sensations: these are extreme phenomena related to panning. The former may be an immediate disappointment, the latter a delayed disappointment. So what does it mean that a plant reverts, forms a “half-moon” or becomes a “ghost”?


In a way, this is also a natural phenomenon, when the plant gradually "gets rid" of variegation - that is, variegation disappears. This phenomenon can occur with any color, while white is no exception.

Reverting can be delayed as a preventive measure by observing suitable care for variegated plants - mainly thanks to ensuring suitable lighting conditions. However, even with a sufficient light source, reversion can occur. Each plant has a different strong genetic make-up, and in the case of weak variegated genes, variegation can recede over time and as the plant grows.

First aid : if you don't want to just give up variegation on your houseplant without a fight, you can try to cut the plant - remove the reverted part by classic cutting (and grow a classic green variety of houseplant, which may surprise you again in time) and hope that the variegation will appear with a new growth.

Photo: Typical half-moon variegation in Syngonia Albo variegata


This is a very attractive method of variegation, where the leaf of the plant is exactly half white (or otherwise pigmented) and the other half green. In appearance it is really an interesting spectacle, but from the point of view of genetics and the future of variegation, it is a borderline condition - further growth can be either reverted, variegated again or go into the "Ghost" variant.

Attention: in connection with the unclear future of "Half-moon" variegations, it is advisable to be careful when cutting and propagating plants in the "Half-moon" section. Why? It is simple. If we have a "Half-moon" cutting, where half of the stem and leaf are white and the other green, the new growth point can appear either on one of the halves or exactly in between. It's actually a lottery! Will a green, variegated or “Ghost” plant grow?


So what is the mentioned ghost (from the English "ghost")? This refers to a part of the plant that is completely variegated, i.e. a new, completely white leaf. "He must be gorgeous!" you think, but watch out! Not for nothing is he nicknamed the ghost.

Attention: when a plant goes into the form of a ghost, it actually means that it has lost its chlorophyll - its source of energy intake. And that unfortunately does not bode well, on the contrary. The survival time of such a plant is rapidly reduced. In addition, the white parts are more prone to gradual and natural dying and will not last forever despite ideal conditions.

"Remember: the more variegation, the longer everything plant lasts. "


First aid: “Ghost” can be very attractive, no doubt about it. But also dangerous. If we don't want to overpower the plant with such an onslaught of white without chlorophyll, we can help it again by propagating it by cutting. We can keep the white part for a while and admire it (or take nice photos) and then cut it off and wait to see if the plant produces another growth with at least some green and viable part.


You have to suffer for beauty or it's worth waiting for the beautiful!

Since there's been quite a bit, it's time for a quick summary of what's actually the most important:

  • Variegated plants lack chlorophyll in the white parts - so these parts cannot photosynthesize and produce energy for the plant. Varying may (but may not) weaken the plant.
  • Due to the lack of chlorophyll, these plants require a little more conscientious care, which will support and maintain variegation.
  • Due to the lack of chlorophyll, the plants also take longer and harder to season and grow - the most suitable method of propagation is the "air-layering" method, which reduces the risk of rotting and destruction of fresh cuttings.
  • Since variegation is rare in some species, these species increase in price - but this is usually also related to the increased demand for care.
  • Panning can naturally disappear = revert or, on the contrary, create a so-called "ghost" - a completely white coloration.


M.Sc. Jana Beránková

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