House plants with variegated leaves

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Houseplants with variegated leaves add colour as well as textural interest to interior decor. The patterns on variegated leaves range from spots and splotches, to strips and come in colours of red, pink, white and bronze. Select and group your variegated houseplants by their leaf shapes for added visual impact.

Narrow Leaves

Dracaena grows to about 6 feet high and has long, straplike leaves. The green leaves are usually variegated with red or white stripes, and the Tricolor cultivar has stripes of both colours. The leaves of Blushing Bromeliads are usually green with pale-green stripes down the centre. However, the leaves in the plant's centre turn bright red when it starts flowering. Flaming Sword has stiff, green leaves banded with maroon forming a cup in the plant's centre. From this grows a tall, bright-red spike with small, yellow flowers.

Small to Medium Leaves

Group small- and medium-leafed plants together for mass impact. The Starlight ficus cultivar has green leaves variegated with white. This slow-growing plant reaches 10 feet tall. Misting the plant daily increases it surrounding humidity. Peperomias have small, heart-shaped leaves with a wafflelike texture. The leaves may be green, reddish or silvery-grey with green veins. The aluminium plant Pilea cadierei is also known as the watermelon pilea, as its markings resemble the rind of that fruit. Each green leaf has slightly raised, silver splotches that look as if they have been decorated with silver paint.

Large Leaves

Large variegated leaves add significant areas of extra colour to your houseplant display. Fancy-leafed begonias of many varieties produce leaves up to 6 inches long. Depending on the cultivar, the light- to medium-green leaves have markings in silver, green, pink and burgundy. Pinching off the buds and blossoms maintains strong leaves. Caladium has heart-shaped leaves and only occasionally produces flowers. The leaves have large splotches of colour in pink, green, red and white, often with contrasting edges and veins. Bird's Nest philodendrons are lush, compact plants less than 2 feet tall. The Prince of Orange and Autumn varieties have copper-coloured leaves changing to variegated green as the plant matures. Black Cardinal has dark-green leaves, slightly tinged with burgundy, contrasting with its deep violet-red stems.


Some houseplants with variegated leaves also produce interesting flowers. Aechmea fasciata, a bromeliad, has a structural form with tough, waxy, arching leaves. The variation purpurea has leaves green leaves with a hint of maroon, and variegata has creamy stripes along the length of its leaves. Mature plants of both varieties produce a pinkish-orange, quilled flower in its centre. The zebra plant has glossy green leaves marked with heavy white lines along their stems and veins. The Red Apollo has stems and leaf undersides marked with red. The zebra plant produces yellow bracts, from which grow short-lived yellow tubular flowers.