7 Beautiful Houseplants With Variegated Leaves

Variegation on houseplants is an aesthetically pleasing feature that adds color and texture to your indoor décor. Variegated plants are characterized by patches of white, yellow, or pink pigmentation within their leaves. They add unique textures and splashes of color to the indoor garden.

Aglaonema variegated houseplants on windowsill

Why do some houseplants have variegated leaves?

Variegation on leaves occurs when there is an absence of chlorophyll on certain parts of the leaf. Going back to science class, chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color and helps them absorb energy from light. When chlorophyll is absent or masked by another pigment (such as anthocyanins), the leaf takes on unique patterns and colors.

What most people don’t know is that many variegated houseplants originated as a genetic mutation of the parent plant. These mutated offshoots are then propagated as new cultivars. Variegation can also occur from environmental factors or plant viruses. Hostas, a popular outdoor perrenial in our zone, are one of our favorite variegated outdoor plants.

When it comes to care requirements, variegated plants are generally more sensitive than their green-leafed counterparts. Because of the smaller amounts of chlorophyll in variegated plants, they need more light than non-variegated plants.

The leaves tend to be smaller, grow slower, and they burn more easily in direct sunlight. So, there certainly is a level of finesse required when keeping variegated houseplants, but the visual payoff is often worth it.

Variegated houseplants in front of window

Why is your variegated houseplant turning back to green?

If your variegated houseplants don’t get enough light, they respond by creating more chlorophyll. This may result in your variegated houseplant reverting back to green. Essentially, the plant is trying to survive by reverting back to it’s more genetically stable state.

This process cannot be reversed. Variegation is an unstable, but incredibly fascinating trait that keeps the hobby of indoor gardening that much more interesting.

1. Caladium / Angel Wings

A few unique variegated varieties of caladium: Caladium “White Queen”, Caladium “Pink Princess Beauty”, Caladium “Florida Clown”.

Caladium "White Queen" in green and straw colored pot

Caladiums, also known as angel wings, are tuberous-rooted plants with striking variegated foliage. The heart-shaped leaves can be found with splashes of pink, white, light green, and red. While they are a beautiful variegated houseplant, I wouldn’t exactly call them low-maintenance indoors.

These plants are native to tropical climates and require high humidity and a minimum temperature of 65°F to thrive. It is also important to note that caladiums go through a period of dormancy in the fall and winter, even as houseplants. While we typically grow caladiums outdoors in pots in the summer, they will survive indoors if given the right conditions and care.

Light requirements: Caladiums need bright light, but should not be placed in direct sunlight, as it can burn their paper-thin foliage. Be sure to place them away from doorways or drafty windows. They don’t do well with fluctuations in temperature.

Watering: Being tropical plants, you should water caladium frequently during the growing season. In fall and winter, allow the tubers to rest and cut back on watering to once a month when the leaves start to die back. During spring and summer, fertilize twice a month with a half strength fertilizer and resume frequent watering.

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2. Calathea

A few unique variegated varieties of calathea: Calathea “White Fusion”, Calathea “Stella”, Calathea “Musaica”, Calathea “Whitestar.”

Calathea plant on dresser

Calathea is a large genus of plants with striking foliage that are relatively easy to care for. Some cultivars have more colors and variegation than others. Due to their decorative leaves, these tropical plants may be one of the most common houseplants available.

Calathea are often confused with some species of Marantas (prayer plants), though they are a separate species. The rattlesnake plant (C. lancifolia) is a showy houseplant boasting wavy edges, dark green patches, and a deep purple/reddish underside.

Another great thing about this variegated houseplant? They’re pet friendly! We would know, our cat destroyed one in it’s entirety and lived to tell the tale.

Light requirements: Calathea does well with medium light as bright/direct light can often alter the foliage colors.

Watering: You’ll want to water your calathea as frequently as needed to keep the soil consistently moist. During the rest season, water less frequently (allow the top inch of soil to dry out).

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3. Philodendron

A few unique variegated varieties of philodendron: Philodendron “Jose Buono,” Philodendron “Paraiso Verde,” Philodendron “White Princess.”

Philodendron "White Princess"

Philodendron is large genus of plants prized for their striking, showy leaves. In the wild, most species are found unvariegated, climbing and growing up trees towards the sunlight.

There are many different species of variegated philodendron that can be kept as ornate houseplants. They are unfussy and easy to care for, making them a popular choice for indoor growers.

Light requirements: Keep these houseplants out of direct sunlight. They do best with indirect light.

Watering: Water moderately, allowing the top few inches to dry out between watering. During winter, water just enough to keep the entire plant from drying out completely. Fertilize twice a month during spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.

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4. Monstera

A few unique variegated varieties of monstera: Monstera deliciosa “Albo Borsigiana,” Monstera deliciosa “Aurea.”

Variegated Monstera Plant (Albo Borsigiana)

If you follow any houseplant collectors on social media, you’ve probably seen some of their beautiful (and often enormous) monstera plants. Also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, these variegated houseplants are known for their large, attractive leaves and sprawling heights. They can thrive indoors for many years and reach heights of 15 feet if properly supported and cared for.

Light requirements: These plants do best in light that is bright but filtered. In winter, they can be placed in more direct sunlight when the daylight is less harsh.

Watering: Water less frequently than some of your other houseplants. The potting mix should be slightly moist with the top inch allowed to dry out between watering. During active grow, fertilize twice a month.

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5. Aglaonema

A few unique variegated varieties of algaonema: Aglaonema “Two Tone Moonstone,” Aglaonema “Heng Heng,” Aglaonema “Bidadari.”

Aglaonema on windowsill

Also known as Chinese evergreens, aglaonema are one of the most popular and widely available houseplants. While older plants will produce flowers, they are typically kept as indoor houseplants for their unique foliage.

They are easy to care for, slow-growing, and relatively low-maintenance. Unfortunately, they are toxic to animals so you’ll want to keep them far away from your pets that like to munch.

Light Requirements: Be sure to keep these plants out of direct sunlight, as it will scorch the leaves. These plants are tolerant of low light but will thrive best in medium light.

Watering: During active growth in the warmer months, water just enough to make the soil moist. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Fertilize once a month during active growth.

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6. Pothos (Epipremnum)

A few unique variegated varieties of pothos: Pothos “Marble Queen,” Pothos “Golden,” Pothos “NJoy.”

Pothos Njoy
Golden poths (Epipremnum)

Also known as Devil’s Ivy, this climbing houseplant is a popular choice for beginners because they are very easy to care for. These plants will also do well in low-light as well as in hanging baskets, making them great for a home office or bedroom.

Pothos plants are very easy to propagate, so one single plant can generously produce many plants for years to come. You can often find affordable cuttings and small starter plants in nurseries or online. Pothos are also relatively unfussy when it comes to humidity levels. So, they should survive just fine if your home is on the dry side.

Light Requirements: In order to maintain variegation, it is recommended to provide this plant with filtered light throughout the year. However, they are tolerant of low-light and will do fine without bright light. They may revert back to green in these conditions.

Watering: Water your pothos moderately during active growth, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. During the winter months, cut back on watering and provide just enough to keep the plant from completely drying out.

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7. Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Dieffenbachia)

A few unique variegated varieties of Dieffenbachia: Dieffenbachia “Tropical Snow,” Dieffenbachia “Tiki,” Dieffenbachia “Sarah.”

Dumb cane plant

Another great option for beginners, these plants are very easy to grow and care for indoors. You may also know them as the Dumb Cane Plant. The foliage is highly decorative with various shades of green, yellow, and white.

Similar to the caladium, these plants are tropical and require high humidity. Because of this, they often do well in bathrooms. It is worth noting that the sap of this plant is poisonous. You’ll want to keep it away from children and pets, and also wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

Light requirements: In the warmer months when days are long, provide this plant with bright indirect light. In the winter, it does best in a sunnier location.

Watering: These plants will need to be watered moderately throughout the year. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Water enough to moisten the entire plant.

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8. Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes)

A few unique variegated varieties of hypoestes: Hypoestes “Pink Splash,” Hypoestes “Confetti,” Hypoestes “Camina.”

Polka dot plant in pot

Appropriately named, the Polka Dot Plant is small and shrub-like with unique, speckled foliage. This ornamental plant makes an attractive addition to an indoor garden. Their bright leaves also pair well with non-variegated houseplants, brightening up an otherwise dull space. Spray the plant a few times a week and keep it in relatively warm temperatures to keep it happy.

Light requirements: These plants do best with full filtered sunlight. Without adequate light, they’ll loose their bright colors and unique markings.

Watering: During active growth, water the plant enough to make the entire pot moist, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between each watering. During winter, you can water less frequently. Fertilize twice a month in the summer.

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Variegated houseplants add lots of interest to any indoor space. We suggest starting with a few plants and allowing the hobby to grow. Nurseries, Facebook groups, and online retailers are all excellent places to find these houseplants. Place them on shelves, in hanging baskets, or windowsills. Before you know it, your indoor garden will be an indoor jungle!

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