Variegated & Multicolor Succulents are a fun way to add a rainbow of colors to your succulent collection. These plants have colorful highlights, edges, stripes, blotches, and spots--anything but plain green! A couple different processes can cause these colorful patterns and there are a number of ways in which variegated succulent care is unique.
What is Variegation
To most succulent lovers, variegation is when a plant displays multiple colors on its leaves or stem. True variegation is when cell mutation causes pigments like anthocyanins (red to black), carotenoids (yellow to red), and betalains (yellow to red) to mask chlorophyll pigments (green). Albinism is also often considered a type of variegation. This is when plant tissue lacks green chlorophyll, which leaves portions of the foliage white to yellow in color.
What Causes Succulent Variegation
Healthy variegation is a cell mutation that can be inherited genetically or arise at random in chimeras. Many succulents also show multiple colors in response to moderate stress from direct sun, drought, and/or cool temperatures.
How to Grow Variegated Succulents
Variegated plants are bred and hybridized for their ornamental value, but they are rare in the wild because they tend to be less resilient than solid green plants. Plants lacking chlorophyll need more sunlight in order to grow and photosynthesize, but they are also more susceptible to burns in direct sun. These plants can survive as long as they have some chlorophyll and get plenty of bright, filtered light.
Succulents can lose their variegation as they grow. To prevent this, prune back solid green growth as it appears. When propagating, take cuttings of variegated portions of the plant to re-root.