Variegated shrubs--those with multicolored leaves--are usually the result of a natural mutation. Leaves with white variegation lack pigment in their white areas. Those with yellow, light green or orange markings have less of the chlorophyll pigment that makes leaves green. Red, pink or purple markings indicate the presence of anthocyanin pigments. Regardless of its cause, their foliage brings additional garden interest.
Aralia (Eleutherococcus sieboldianus ) is an 8- to 10-foot-high and wide deciduous shrub hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Aralia Variegatus is a smaller cultivar, reaching 6 to 8 feet high and wide. Variegatus has thorny stems with attractive, white-edged, bright green leaves. In May and June, it has small clusters of greenish white flowers. Tiny black berries follow the flowers on pollinated female plants. Few male plants are commercially available, however, so pollination rarely occurs.
Weigela Nana Variegata
Weigela Nana Variegata's size--up to 3 feet tall and 4 wide--makes it the smallest weigela (Weigela florida) family shrub. Nana Variegata is a showy deciduous plant hardy to minus 30 degrees F. Its dense branches have elliptical, 4-inch, white-edged green leaves. Between April and June, its abundant funnel-shaped pink flowers bring hummingbirds to the garden. Flowering may repeat periodically during the summer.
Bigleaf Hydrangea Maculata
Bigleaf hydrangea Maculata (Hydrangea macrophylla Maculata) is a 2- to 3-foot-high and wide deciduous shrub hardy to minus 10 degrees F. Its large, serrated oval green leaves have white edges. In July and August, bigleaf hydrangea has 4- to 5-inch flat clusters of pink flowers. Blossom color depends on soil pH. Acidic soil (pH below 7.0) produces blue blooms. Alkaline soil (above 7.0) produces pink ones.