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What is a variegated hosta?

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Quick Answer

Variegated hostas have leaves with two colors, distinguishing them from other types of hostas that have solid-colored leaves. A variegated hosta has bright green leaves patterned with light green, yellow or white.

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The second color can form a border around the entire leaf, or it may appear as stripes, dots or splotches. The variegated leaves are caused by a mutation of cell layers within the leaf called plastids. The plastids contain colored pigments. The mutations cause the plastids to rearrange within the leaf and are displayed as different leaf colorations. Some variegated hostas continue to change, displaying more than one color or pattern over time.

Hostas propagate by division or can be grown from seed. Those grown from seed produce more variations from the parent plant than those that are divided. Hosta varieties range from 6 inches to 2 feet tall and flower in late summer. The flowers extend on a tall stem above the plant, are usually white or light purple, and are often fragrant. Variegated hostas prefer a partly shaded location in a soil high in nutrients with good drainage. Hostas with leaves that contain white or light colors may burn in direct sunlight of more than a few hours a day. It is important to divide hostas every few years to prevent overcrowding.

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