Flowers tend to dominate the realm of ornamental plants. but many gardeners have a need for less flashy, equally beautiful foliage plants. Plants with variegated or striped green and white leaves can be used as an unexpected, unique accent for a garden border or an outdoor container or hanging basket.
Green Wandering Jew
A member of the spiderwort family, green wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis) is a trailing perennial that hails from the subtropics of Brazil and Argentina. The plant has fleshy, succulent stems and oval leaves that are about 1 to 2 1/2 inches long. Green wandering Jew is available in a handful of colors, notably "Variegata," which boasts green-and-white striped leaves. Green wandering Jew does best in a rich, organic soil, although it will grow in mulch or sandy soils if watered frequently. Tolerant of low light levels, the plant will grow in partial or full sun in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11. The plant may become invasive in ideal conditions.
Growing to an average height of 1 to 3 feet, the hosta (hosta spp.) is a mounding foliage plant commonly used to fill shady areas in the garden. Cultivars such as "Fortunei Albo-marginata" offer rich green leaves rimmed with a whitish cream color that gradually ages into a crisp shade of white. Suitable as a border or container plant, hostas may be grown in USDA zones 3 to 9. Plant in a fertile, moist soil that is well draining. The plant is suitable for full shade, although it will look its healthiest with a little morning sun. Keep an eye out for common hosta pests such as slugs and snails.
Also commonly called shampoo ginger, pinecone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) is a distinct looking perennial that hails from the tropics of southeast Asia. Growing to be as tall as 7 feet, the plant produces tall stalks topped with cone-shaped bracts that change from bright green to red. Dwarf cultivars such as "Dwarf Waimanalo Pinstripeshell" grow to be about 4 feet tall and offer bright green leaves that are streaked with white pinstripes. Pinecone ginger will thrive in partial or full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 11. Plant in a well draining, fertile soil and water frequently, enough to keep the soil moist to the touch.