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The Wild Wacky World
of Variegated Water Plants 

by Dave Brigante
Click images to enlarge

Canna 'Pretoria' 
In our world of gardeners, we are generally fond of variegated plants. They lend special interest to garden settings, ponds and plant collections. Bringing such a dramatic contrast to the "usual" look is one of their best attributes. With green being the most prevalent color in most gardens, the bright whites, yellows and other assorted colors jump right out at you.  

Nymphaea 'Arc-en-ciel' 
The aquatic plant world is no different. Whether it is putting a variegated Nymphaea 'Arc-en-Ciel' into your pond or simply edging your margins with variegated cattails (Typha latifolia variagata), you cannot help but be drawn to their bold statements. We growers and plant fanciers continually seek new and exciting discoveries.   

Recently I came across a wild bramble vine showing signs of variegation; I forced myself to walk away. Who really wants to introduce more thorny plants into their gardening lives (unless, of course, it may be a Victoria or two)? I have also had narrow escapes with a variegated version of watercress (Nasturtium officinale) and a variegated version of Lobelia cardinalis. The watercress was too weak to survive and the Lobelia grew out of it. That is truly one of the greatest joys of being a grower in the aquatic plant industry, making new discoveries. Most variegated plants on the market today were unique findings for someone at one time or another. You all know who you are! I just hope that I can find one worth keeping someday.

The concept of where and how to use variegated plants is not a new one by any means. Nevertheless, when you gather together all of the different styles of variegation in aquatic plants, it is quite enlightening. Who knew there were so many of them? It really brings out the differences and similarities of variegation as a whole.

Of course, there is the typical white and green style, then there are gold, yellow and cream combinations, and finally there is the pure green and yellow duet. These examples make you wonder about the uncharted waters of multicolored plants and how they take variegation to a completely new level. It begs the question, "How far can we go with that idea?" 

Hymenocallis caribaea 'Variegata'

Echinodorus cordifolius
'Marble Queen'

Baumea rubiginosa

Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' 

Arundo donax 'Variegata'

Lastly, on the subject of different types of variegation, I have always really enjoyed how some usually green and white specimens present themselves early on with a hint of pink. Unfortunately, it's such a shame to see that bonus color often times fade away.

Those of us who are involved in the creation of beautiful pond landscapes or the growing of aquatics should feel fortunate to have the plant diversity that is available to us. Being so bolstered by the addition of so many variegated beauties, we can set our garden oasis apart from the typical garden. 

Page 2 - Different Variegation Styles of Aquatic Marginals >

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