Q. Why is the variegation fading on the leaves of my houseplant?
Variegation in houseplants is usually characterized by areas of the leaf or some other part of the plant having white, off-white, yellow, red and even orange color. This trait can add interest and beauty to plants and is often highly desired. It can occur naturally in the plant due to cell mutation, or it can be selectively bred for by people.
While some fading of leaf variegation can be seasonal, the mostly common reason for this in houseplants is insufficient light. Those areas of the leaf that are variegated are not producing chlorophyll and thus do not produce any food through photosynthesis. So variegated houseplants growing in shady or semi-shady locations are at a real disadvantage. Not only do they have low levels of chlorophyll, but they are not being exposed to adequate light. In such situations, the variegated parts of the plant often fade and revert to solid green as the plant attempts to increase its food production.
The easiest way to remedy this is to increase the amount of light the plant receives. Usually, the existing leaves where the variegation has already faded usually will not regain their color. However, the new growth should once again exhibit variegation.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service