Variegated leaves are green with markings of another colour. Variegation results from genetic or viral mutation, environmental adaptation by plants or from breeder manipulation of hybrid plants. Variegation causes irregular spots, striations, splotches or streaks; some patterns follow leaf veins or appear between them. Stripe variegation occurs in many grassy plants; some of which feature white or cream-coloured stripes.
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Chlorophytum comosum "Variegatum"
Spider plants are grassy African natives kept as houseplants in temperate zones. Their popularity is due to their easy care but also to the fact that they infloresce in little clusters of white blooms on cascading aerial stolons that are followed by "baby" plants. Two variegated forms of spider plant brighten porches and sunrooms: C. comosum "Vittatum" and C. comosum "Variegatum." "Vittatum" leaves grow 10 inches to a foot long and have a broad white stripe down the middle from base to tip. "Variegatum" leaves are 8 to 10 inches long and marginata-variegated; white stripes line their edges. Spider plants need bright but not direct light to thrive. They are one of the plants studied by NASA scientists for mitigation of indoor pollution.
Maiden grass or eulalia -- M. sinensis "Variegatus"-- is an antique ornamental. It arches in fountain-shaped clumps up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet across with marginal white stripes. A smaller Japanese native, M. sinensis "Morning Light," grows upright to 5 feet tall; its stripes run down its leaves' centres. Ornamental miscanthus tolerates partial shade. It grows best in sun and moist but well-drained soil and grows well on stream banks. Miscanthus species are under investigation for use in biofuels. The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health notes one species that is invasive, particularly in the Southeastern United States.
Cannas, also known as canna lily or Indian shot are dramatic flowering perennials related to banana trees. They grow from 2 to 10 feet tall. Huge leaves grow directly from rhizomes; their white stripes originate along the long central rib radiate along veins to the leaf's edge. Variegated cannas vary in size and flower colour. "Bangkok Yellow", a 2- to 3-foot plant, has bright yellow flowers; "Striped Beauty", 3 feet tall, sports yellow and white striped flowers. "Bengal Tiger" blooms fiery orange on a 5 to 6 foot plant; "Minerva" grows 5 feet tall with buttery yellow blooms; and "Stuttgart," a tall 6 to 8 footer, bears salmon flowers. Cannas thrive in full sun and well-drained loamy soil; they will even grow in boggy conditions. Most varieties are grown as tender perennials in the North. Cannas are hardy in zones 8 to 12.
Yucca filamentosa "Variegata"
Yucca is a woody perennial shrub that grows in large rosettes. Variegated yucca, for all its Southwestern character, is native to the Eastern U.S. and hardy to zone 5. Drought-tolerant and sun-loving, yucca thrives on neglect. Stiff, sword-shaped 18-inch leaves feature marginal white stripes and threadlike filaments that peel off as the plant matures.
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