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All you need to know about succulent variegation

4 min read

Succulent variegation, Succulent Care Guide, How to grow Variegated Succulents


If you are in search of a plant that will create unrivaled interest, taking your garden to a whole new level, then get yourself a variegated succulent! Rather than having a simple shade of green, these types of succulents have a variety of colors and markings within their foliage that will surely stand out in any living space.

But what exactly is variegation? Can variegated succulent turn back to normal? How to care for them? And most importantly, what are the most enticing variegated succulents to grow?

Luckily, we have all the answers that you are looking for and shared everything you need to know about variegated succulents in this post. :)

What is Variegation?

Succulent variegation, Succulent Care Guide, How to grow Variegated Succulents

Variegation is the lack of green chlorophyll in some plant cells, causing different colored zones to appear on the leaves and stems. Generally, any plant is considered variegated as long as it has leaves, stems, flowers, or trunks in different colors within the same structure. It may come as well in different forms, such as stripes, spots, spatters, blotches, and shadings.

One good example of a variegated succulent is the Variegated String of Buttons, where it exhibits an exquisite shading of various colors within each leaf and it becomes more noticeable with age and sun exposure.

Can variegated plant turn back to normal?

Succulent variegation, Succulent Care Guide, How to grow Variegated Succulents

A succulent or any plant may turn completely green for several reasons, including high or low light levels, low water levels, or temperature extremes and the same goes for variegated succulents. So if you want to maintain your plant's variegation, start by removing any of your plant’s solid green growth. The reason for this is that if one branch or offset goes back to green color, it will outperform the other leaves that are lacking pigment, which will eventually turn the whole plant to a plain green color. 

You should also give your plant extra attention by watching out the amount of light it gets per day, keeping the temperature at the correct range, and monitoring your watering routine.

How to care for a variegated succulent?


Succulent variegation, Succulent Care Guide, How to grow Variegated Succulents

You might think a variegated plant would need more sunshine to make up for its lack of chlorophyll. Actually, since variegated succulent have smaller and sensitive leaves, exposing it to really bright sunlight will cause sunburn. This may also lead them to think that it needs to produce more chlorophyll, resulting in greener leaves.

A shady or semi-shady area is not recommended as well for your variegated succulents due to their limited level of chlorophyll, which will result in slower growth.

To give them just enough light they need, find a spot where they can receive bright, indirect light during the hottest part of the day. And remember to turn it so all sides will be exposed to sunlight equally.


Variegated succulents are also more likely to be harmed by extreme temperatures compared to their green-colored siblings. Plus, they do not do well with frost, so it is advisable to keep the temperature surrounding your variegated plant between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.


Like some other succulents, variegated ones also need their soil to have a good soak of water until it drips out of the pot's drainage hole, allowing the soil to completely dry out in between watering. Do this once a week during Summer and once every 3 to 4 weeks in the Winter.

Pot & Soil

To lessen the risk of rot, choose terracotta or any pot with good drainage holes and use a well-draining cactus and succulent soil with 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite.

Some of the most popular variegated varieties

Portulacaria Variegated Elephant bush

Also known as rainbow portulacaria plant or rainbow elephant bush is an evergreen succulent that grows as a small bush. It has woody stems and fleshy, green, and creamy white foliage. Under its ideal condition, this plant can grow up to 20 feet tall.

Hardiness:Zones 10 and 11

Toxicity:Non-toxic to humans and animals


Aeonium Kiwi

Aeonium Kiwi or sometimes called Haworthii Tricolor is a magnificent summer bedding plant and looks splendidly good in terracotta pots as well, making it one of the favorites of most succulent enthusiasts. This gorgeous plant displays yellow-green colored leaves, with pink or red shade borders. It can reach up to 30 cm in height and diameter. 

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Toxicity:Non-toxic to animals


Variegated Bear Paw

Variegated Bear’s Paw or also known as Cotyledon tomentosa f. Variegata is a small rare succulent that can only grow up to 30 cm in health. It has thick, wedge-like leaves and covered with fine tiny white hairs, giving it a velvety look. Each of its leaves exhibits yellow striations and edged in small reddish teeth, giving it the look of a bear’s claw.

Hardiness:Zones 9b to 11b

Toxicity:Mildly toxic to children and pets


Variegated String of Heart

With its elegant draping strands of heart shaped leaves with silver markings and pink variegation, Variegated String of Hearts is one of the most famous succulent. This evergreen trailing succulent can reach up to 10 cm in height and can spread up to 4 meters in length.

Hardiness:Zone 10 and 11a 

Toxicity:Non-toxic to humans and pets


Variegated Paddle Plant

Variegated Paddle Plant or known as Kalanchoe luciae Fantastic, is a truly amazing plant that lives up to its name! It can reach a maximum height of 12-inches tall, and grows in a cluster of clamshell leaves striped in gray-green color and red highlights with splashes of cream to white variegation.

Hardiness:Zones 9a to 11b

Toxicity:Toxic to pets




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