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Variegated plants - less healthy than non-variegated?

 
Posts: 229
Location: 9A Marion County Fl
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Id like to understand this better.

As an example I have some kumquats that have this trait, some of my trees have it more pronounced than others, Ive been told that the plant in general may not be as healthy as non variegated version because of the lack of the green pigment chlorophyll in some of the plant cells. The whole photosynthesis process dosent take place as it should?

If that is the case than why are there so many plants with non green leaves? Broad spectrum's of leaf colors out there.

Ive read that the plant can revert back to non variegated.

In a nutshell should I be technically staying clear of variegated plants that I know typically or naturally occur in most cases with green leaves?

Thank-you

Staff note (Leigh Tate) :

Jason Walter, I tweaked your post title in hopes it will promote responses. It's an interesting question.

 
pollinator
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I haven't looked into it extensively but have always avoided variegated leaves for their lower efficiency. I am pretty sure areas without green pigment do not photosynthesize at all.  So while the plant may be able to do ok in its variegated form it will not be as productive (all other things being equal) as the green form. As a student I worked at a nursery that grew their own trees and shrubs from cuttings and several times saw plants that had reverted back to a more vigorous green form. I think this is probably where I picked up my avoidance of variegated leaves.
 
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If a plant is too aggressive it might be seen as an advantage to buy a variegated variety.  The plant I'm thinking of in this case is Bishop's Weed, Aegopodium podagraria.  I grow a variegated version of it to help make sure it doesn't take over.  Even then, I use a rhizome barrier with that one.

image source (not my pic)
 
Andrea Locke
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Yes, that's a good point! I inherited a huge patch of that plant, which I know as goutweed, at a former property.  We ate as much as we could to keep it in check. Even so I still pulled out buckets full every spring to keep other edibles like wild violets from being overrun in that bed. Being variegated didn't seem to slow it down much.
 
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My wife grows Carnivorous Plants (pitcher plants, nepenthese, flytraps), she says that they are not necessarily less healthy. It is a mutation, but they do grow slower on the whole.
 
Andrea Locke
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I happened to come across an article today that confirms the lower photosynthesis of variegated plants but talks about the benefits of being better camouflaged!

Camo plants. 🤣

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717323-700-science-how-plants-with-patterned-leaves-compete/


 
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