By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Variegated foliage is a beautiful way to brighten gardens and landscapes. These five shrubs all produce beautiful flowers, but the show doesn’t stop there. They also sport fabulous variegated foliage that brings season-long color to any garden.
Sugar Tip® Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is seedless and variegated! Sugar Tip® rose of Sharon combines brightly variegated creamy-white and bluish-green foliage with pure pink flowers. The fully double blooms do not set seed. Its unique, narrow habit provides exceptional versatility in landscape applications. Reaches heights/widths of 5-6'.
Sugar Tip® Gold Rose of Sharon brings even more foliage interest – bright gold variegation – and an appealing lavender flower color. At 4-5’ tall and wide, it’s a bit smaller than the original but it shares its same appealing, non-invasive habit.
Both are hardy to USDA zones 5-9.
My Monet Purple Effect® Weigela shares the same dwarf habit, and neat, variegated foliage of the original My Monet® weigela, but carries hues of cream, green, and pink, layered with a cast of purple. This new addition is an exceptionally strong bloomer, plus the foliage looks good right up until frost. It’s nice and petite at just 1.5-2.5' tall/wide and hardy in USDA zones 4-6.
Double Play® Painted Lady® Spiraea japonica takes color to a whole new level! Brightly variegated yellow and green foliage emerges in spring, followed by hot pink flowers in late spring. It’s just 2-3’ tall and wide, which makes it great for perennial gardens, patio containers, or any place that can be enlivened with a splash of low-maintenance color. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
Bollywood® Azalea (Rhododendron) may just be the most colorful shrub you can plant. Bright neon red-pink flowers engulf this compact semi-evergreen azalea in spring. Vivid, glossy silver and dark green variegated foliage supplies the color the rest of the year. Hardy in USDA zones 6-9, this compact azalea will fit into most gardens and landscapes, reaching heights and widths of just 2-3'.
Instant Karma® Sambucus nigra is a showy, variegated elderberry with attractive bluish-green leaves, variegated with a neat leaf margin that starts out gold in spring and changes to creamy white as the season progresses. Large, lacy, white flowers in early summer add to the display. Hardy in USDA zones 4-7. Give this shrub plenty of room to grow as it reaches heights and widths of 6-8'.
When you plant a variegated shrub, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes reversions can occur. This means the plant might try to ‘revert’ back to a form with the non-variegated leaf from its parentage (sneaky, huh?). Sometimes fluctuations in weather can cause this, or sometimes it just randomly occurs – but shoots that have reverted can be pretty vigorous. To ensure your plant keeps the variegation you love, simply prune the offending shoots out completely to the base of the plant, or cut the stem back to the place where you can see it is still producing variegated foliage.
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