How do Succulents Become Variegated?

Variegated succulents are all the rage now. Succulents grew in popularity when the world went into lockdown. 

The coronavirus pandemic caused many people to shut themselves inside as per the government’s recommendations. 

Since then, succulents have grown quite a bit in popularity and are available with a lot more variety. 

You’re no longer only getting one color of succulent. The different colors make plants different and more attractive to those buying them. 

There are many reasons that people prefer variegated succulents to those that aren’t.

All gardeners enjoy variegated plants and know how to create them. The variety of colors in the plants can help people add more color to their garden without any extra effort in adding flowering plants to the mix. 

The question is, how do succulents become variegated? Are there many ways to do so?  Read on as we tell you more.

What is a Variegated Succulent?

When we think about variegated plants, we’re generally talking about green and yellow leaves that are either mottled or appear in various colors. 

Variegated succulents are similar to this, involving different things, including stripes, scars, spots, shadings, and even more. 

There are many reasons that variegation may occur in different plants, as it has much to do with age and exposure to the sun. 

Very gated supplements occur in different colors.  The color deviation is generally from two to three colors. 

These colored patterns can be shades of green or completely different colors altogether.

How do Succulents Become Variegated?

Now that we know that different colors can cause succulents to be variegated, we can also find out all the things that may cause the succulents to be variegated. 

There are two significant causes for striations or variegation in the succulents; they are stated below:

  • Plant colors depend on the number of pigments in the leaves or the buds. These pigments can have a variety of distributions throughout the body. Chlorophyll is the primary pigment responsible for the overall green color of the succulents, but in the presence of other pigments, there is more incredible variegation in the leaves. Different levels of pigments can create a bunch of different colors all over the plants.
  • Other pigments give plants a number of different colors.  These other colors are blue, red-orange, purple, and pink, which may make the succulents even more pretty.  Chlorophyll is going to be present in these pigments in any case, but the presence of the other pigments is going to be much more prominent in these plants than others.
  • Genetic Mutations can also cause variegation in plants. If plants can’t adapt to their environment, then their color may change overall, and it’s essential to take note of this change as it helps to understand whether the plant will survive or not.  When genetic mutations occur, they can also pass on to the offspring.  Some strains can do so.
  • However, others can’t. Succulents aren’t so great with their variegation that they can pass it on to their offspring with perfect ease.  However, if you want succulent variegation, you may have to propagate a plant already variegated.  That’s the best method that you can use to propagate succulents using succulent pieces with quick ease.  This can allow you to have as many colored succulents as you want.

You must know how to maintain the propagation with ease.

How Can You Propagate Variegated Succulents?

You can see variegated succulents as harmful mutations or the variety of colors they bring to your garden. 

If you’re of the latter group, you may want to get more variegated plants into your garden, making you want to propagate your variegated succulents even more so than before. 

The succulents must be propagated in a specific way to hold onto their variegation.  It will likely get passed on to the next generation, but it isn’t done every single time.

As a breeder, if you find a particular bud or plant stem with a color you genuinely admire, you must propagate it through the stem cutting or the leaf.

How to Take Care of a Variegated Succulent?

Many of those believe that variegated leaves need to be cured; thus, they would want to put these plants in a place that gets even more sunshine since they will not have a lot of chlorophyll, to begin with. 

However, many don’t know that chlorophyll can help provide a fair bit of protection from the sun, which is why variegated succulents require you not to place them directly in the sun. 

They are also less able to carry shade with ease as compared to other brighter green succulents.

We have mentioned other ways to take care of variegated succulents below:


Succulents have smaller leaves than other plants, which is why you may notice that exposing them to increased sunlight can cause them to burn. 

It may also make them think they need to produce more chlorophyll, and you may no longer have variegated succulents.

If you want fast growth in the variegated succulents, then you shouldn’t also place your succulents in a shady or semi-shady area as this can lead to slower growth.

The best way to provide light to these succulents is to find a spot where bright yet indirect light shines directly on the succulence. 

It would be best if you also remembered to rotate the plant so that the succulents receive lights from all around.


It’s easier for variegated succulents to receive harm when extreme temperatures or conditions occur. 

That means that variegated succulents are not God with extreme heat or cold. 

They do not respond well to frost; thus, you must maintain the temperature surrounding your plant anywhere from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.


You may not think that succulents require a lot of water. 

However, it’s necessary to soak your succulent soil in water for a little bit until the drainage hole starts to leak.  It would help if you allowed the soil to dry before you water it. 

It would be best if you did this at least once a week during the summer and about once every three to four weeks during winter. 

Not doing so can cause the soil to dry out, and you may be left with variegated succulents that are not the best.

Soil and Container

Succulents can be much more prone to rot. If you want to reduce this risk, choose a terracotta or a pot with optimum drainage, allowing less rotting. 

The part should have proper drainage holes so any excess water can come right out.  It would be best if you also used a cactus which allows you to drain the cactus. 

The soil should also be well-draining.  Any soil with a 50 to 70% mineral grid or other contents such as coarse sand, perlite, or pumice will do.

Is it possible for a Variegated Plant to Return to Normal?

Variegated plants are exceptionally simple. They are variegated because they have different levels of pigmentation present in them. 

Chlorophyll is the major pigment that makes plants green. 

If you place your variegated succulents in the light, the chloroplasts in the plant cell may release a greater portion of chlorophyll which would then cause the plant to turn greener.

There are many other reasons that the variegated succulent may return to normal. 

These reasons include things like low levels of water, the presence of extreme temperatures, and low or high levels of light are some examples. 

If you want to ensure that your plant remains variegated, then you may have to remove the green parts in your plant as soon as it comes to that.

Variegated Cactus Types

Variegated cactus types (also known as ocotillo) are native to the northwestern United States and can be found in Utah and Arizona, as well as other parts of the southwestern United States.

Variegated cactus types should not be confused with ocotillo, which is a large shrub that is native to Mexico.

Here, I have listed some of the variegated cactus types:

  • ‘Blue Russian’
  • ‘White Russian’
  • ‘Blue Thumb’
  • are just some of the variegated cactus types.

Do variegated Succulents need more light?

All succulents do best in bright light, but some need more than others. Half-hardy succulents, such as cacti and sedum, need very little light to grow.

They need just indirect light, such as that from a west-facing window.

Versicolor succulents, such as Ponytail and Mouse Ears, require more light than those listed above. They can use the full sun, but you should keep them under a tree or tent so they can bask in indirect sunlight.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons that people opt for variegated succulents. They are colorful and add a layer of novelty to their gardens. 

Variegated succulents generally come about due to genetic mutations in the plants or due to the degree of pigmentation present in these plants that would make them more variegated and different in colors. 

Once you have a variegated succulent, you will also have to maintain the variegation as it can shift from variegated to not variegated with a lot of ease. 

Variegated plants are an adventure to grow and propagate, so you should buy a variegated succulent today!