Variegated orchids aren’t your everyday orchids – their leaves sport stunning color patterns that’ll keep you hooked even when the flowers take a break. What’s more, every leaf tells its own story and these change with lighting and growth. Yes, the variegated orchids are quite rare and a bit more pricey, but oh so worth it!
Stick around as we explore 50 unique variegated orchid species and hybrids in this article.
Who knows, you might just find the perfect addition to your collection!
1. Alba Variegated Chinese Orchid
The word alba comes from the Latin word for “white,” and the Alba Variegated Chinese Orchid certainly lives up to this moniker.
With nodding white blooms that somewhat resemble wings, this orchid blooms throughout the spring and summer and is one of the few orchid species to tolerate partial shade.
The leaves are variegated dark green and cream and is generally the same on every leaf with little variation.
2. Arachnis Maggie Oei
With a scientific name that means “spider,” this orchid’s appearance comes as no surprise. Curved, slender petals grow outward from a small cream and fuchsia column and lip. The variegation occurs in the petals, which are yellow to cream with distinctive reddish-brown spots.
3. Bulbophyllum Reticulatum
The variegation in this unique orchid occurs in both the leaves and flowers, the leaves having a light green and white “scaled” appearance that lends to its common name, “Net-Like Veined Bulbophyllum.”
The leaves are oblong, and the blossoms are horizontally elongated with cream and burgundy striped blooms. The blooms have a sweet fragrance with petals that are usually striped, flecked, or some combination of the two.
4. Cattleya Moscombe ‘Variegata’
The cattleya moscombehas variegated leaves and full, ruffled blossoms that are both white and fuchsia. The leaves are rounded and connected to each pseudobulb with a narrow stem.
The leaves’ stripes are green and cream, with some yellow. This orchid blooms throughout the summer and fall and has fragrant flowers.
5. Cattleya Island Chayn x Blumen Insel Variegata
This lovely orchid is similar in appearance to the cattleya moscombe ‘variegata,’ though with white and yellow blooms instead of white and fuchsia. Its large, ruffled blossoms give off a sweet fragrance and the yellow insides of each petal having a veined appearance.
The variegation occurs in the leaves, with occasional striping or speckling. The variegation of this species isn’t as noticeable or consistent as with other variegated orchids.
6. Cattleya Free Spirit Variegata
This orchid has full golden blooms with touches of red or orange on the throat and lip. Their leaves have the occasional striping or speckling characteristic with variegated orchid species, but it isn’t as noticeable or consistent as with other variegated orchid species.
7. Chia E. Yenlin ‘Variegata’
A miniature Phalaenopsis species, Chia E. Yenlin ‘Variegata’ has striped, rounded leaves with variegated stripes of green and cream/yellow. Its velvety fuchsia flowers have rounded petals that are speckled with white along the edges.
8. Cymbidium Sinense
Native to Vietnam and China and known as ‘The New Year’s Orchid’ in China, cymbidium sinense is a tall, spindly orchid with dark brown to burgundy flowers that each sport a yellow and brown column and throat.
The variegation occurs on the edges of the narrow leaves, with many leaves having a white or cream edge. The variegation is infrequent, with some leaves having variegation while others don’t, and may not be as noticeable as other orchid species.
9. Cymbidium Ensifolium
Also known as the Sword-Leaf Cymbidium for its long, narrow leaves, the cymbidium ensifolium is a tall, spindly orchid with tiny flowers that range from white to purple and bloom in vertical clusters.
Irregular and infrequent variegation occurs within its long leaves, manifesting in slight specks or occasional stripes. Primary variegation occurs in its blooms, which are bi-colored cream and burgundy with darker edges and veins, its lip and column either speckled or striped.
This particular orchid has a long history, having been cultivated in China for over 2,000 years.
10. Cymbidium Ensifolium Shi Zhang Hong
The cymbidium ensifolium Shi Zhang Hong is a Chinese orchid with bi-colored striped pink and yellow blossoms with a spotted pink lip.
Like other ensifoliums, the Shi Zhang Hong has small, dainty flowers with narrow petals that don’t overlap. Each flower is only 1″ – 2″ wide.
11. Cymbidium Lowianum Variegated
Also known as “Low Boat’s Orchid” due to the unusual shape of its blossoms, this orchid species has long, narrow leaves that are light to medium green with variegated stripes of white, yellow, or cream.
The flowers are green – often the same shade of green as the leaves – with a bright red lip.
12. Cymbidium Golden Elf Var. Variegata
This orchid is a cross between Cym. ensifolium x Enid Haupt, resulting in its distinctive variegation. It is also called “Sundust” and, as both of its common names suggest, has bright yellow blooms.
The long, narrow leaves have subtle variegation, with infrequent stripes that aren’t consistent with the species as a whole. Some plants have many bi-colored leaves while others are almost unnoticeable as variegated.
13. Dendrobium Speciosum ‘Maizuru’ Variegated
The Maizuru has round leaves that are either dark green, cream, or bi-colored. There is no striping – variegation occurs as a solid fade or on the tips of the leaves. The variegation is generally consistent with the species.
This squat orchid blooms during the fall and winter and has tight clusters of tiny white blossoms that give off a strong, sweet fragrance.
14. Dendrobium Anosmum, Variegated
Dendrobium anosmum has narrow leaves with yellow to cream edges, the variegation occurring frequently within each plant and in the species as a whole.
The blossoms range from white to purple, with dark purple lips.
15. Dendrobium Kingianum Hwangjo
This unique species has yellow to cream leaves with faint green stripes and edges. Plants range in height from 6 to 12 inches (15 – 30cm) and have small, bright purple blossoms.
This orchid generally blooms from January to March or April, having a fragrance described as being similar to honey.
16. Dendrobium Magic Beans, Variegated
Flowering during the winter, the dendrobium magic beans orchid is a miniature species ideal for orchid lovers with small living spaces. Its variegated leaves are tri-colored – green and cream with purple edges.
17. Dendrobium Moniliforme Albomarginatum, Variegated
The dendrobium moniliforme albomarginatum has dainty white blossoms that sometimes have a hint of purple, and short, narrow striped leaves.
18. Dendrobium Kingianum Variegated
Native to Queensland, Australia, this orchid can have a mature adult height anywhere from 6 to 12 inches (15 – 30 cm). With small, bright pink to purple flowers, dendrobium kingianum’s leaves have green and cream leaves with a hint of pink if given plenty of light.
19. Dendrobium Burana Jade Variegated
Called “jade” because of its flowers’ unusual pale green color, this orchid has variegated green and white striped leaves. The flowers are primarily pale yellow-green edged with white and a hint of pink.
20. Dendrobium Loddigesii Variegated
This miniature orchid has green and white striped leaves and small, pale purple blooms with a large, round lip with a touch of gold. It is native to Burma and grows at high elevations, so it can tolerate a range of temperatures from 45 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (7- 37 degrees Celcius).
21. Dendrobium Aphyllum Variegated
Another species with a large, round lip, the dendrobium aphyllum is great for hanging baskets with its small, cascading clusters of white and lavender.
The thin leaves have green and white stripes.
22. Dendrobium Hybrid Variegated
The general term applies to any dendrobium hybrid with variegated leaves. Dendrobiums are native to Asia, anywhere from Burma to the Himalayas, with flowers that come in a range of colors and shapes. Many dendrobiums have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
23. Epiphronitis Veitchii ‘Variegata’
Originating in 1890 as a primary hybrid, the miniature orchid epiphrontis veitchii variegata has bright red blooms with yellow lips that grow in clusters. The small, oval leaves are striped.
24. Grammatophyllum scriptum
One of the most eye-catching orchid species, grammatophyllum scriptum has yellow five-petaled flowers with large brown blots. Its narrow leaves grow upwards. Variegated species have green and white stripes on the leaves.
This orchid’s scientific name translates to “blotted/marked plant” in Latin and it certainly shows, with its striking petals having the appearance of ink blots on paper.
25. Macodes petola
Among the species on our list, no orchid has variegation quite like the macodes petola – also known as the variegated jewel orchid. Its green leaves are covered with unique patterns of thin yellow lines, arranged in a netted pattern with the similitude of lightning.
This orchid is particularly susceptible to root rot, so be careful not to overwater.
26. Neofinetia Falcata Variegated
Three variegated species of this species are as follows:
- Neofinetia falcata ‘Ginsekai’ – dainty white flowers with long, flowing petals; thick, narrow, striped leaves
- Neofinetia falcata ‘Tenkei Fukurin’ – bright yellow leaves with dark green stripes; small white blooms
- Neofinetia falcata ‘Kishu Sekko’ – dark green leaves with subtle light green/yellow variegation; white blooms
Each of these kinds have white blooms and the same shape of leaf, with a range of variegation and blossom shape.
27. Oncidium Sharry Baby Red Fantasy
Known best for its fragrance, which smells most like chocolate, the Sharry Baby Red Fantasy orchid has lustrous dark pink blooms along thin stems. Flower stakes must be used for this plant to reach its full mature height, which is a towering 41 – 43 inches (104- 109 cm).
Variegation occurs as yellow edges along oblong green leaves.
28. Oncidium Kathrin Zoch ‘Variegata’
This orchid has long, cascading leaves that are green with white edges. It thrives in partial shade and has small, dainty purple-pink blossoms, the lip often a lighter shade than the petals. The center is bright orange or gold.
29. Oriental Cymbidiums Variegated
The term “oriental cymbidiums” (also Chinese cymbidiums) encompasses three species of orchid that are native to east Asian nations such as Korea, Vietnam, China, and others. These species are prized for their striking variegation.
- Cymbidium sinense – known as the New Year’s Orchid in China; brown blossoms
- Cymbidium ensifolium – known as the Sword-Leaf Cymbidium due to the unique shape of its variegated leaves
- Cymbidium goeringii – green and white three-petaled blooms; striped green and white leaves
30. Phalaenopsis Schilleriana
The orchids in the genus phalaenopsis are known as ‘moth orchids’ due to the shape of their overlapping petals. Phalaenopsis schilleriana is also known as ‘Karen Rockwell’ and has pink to lavender blooms. Another variation, known as “Pink Elephant,” has noticeable white borders on its petals.
31. Phalaenopsis Sanderiana
With rounded, oblong leaves with variegation making them appear almost silver, phalaenopsis sanderiana has pale pink and white blooms. They are native to the Philippines and grow best in humid, tropical climates.
32. Phalaenopsis Pinlong Cheris
Also known as “Sakura,” this orchid species has large clusters of white and pink blooms. Its large, flat, oblong leaves have a subtle dappled variegation pattern.
33. Phalanopsis Punctatissima ‘Sweet Fragrance’
As its name suggests, Sweet Fragrance has an intoxicating scent emanating from its creamy white petals, each with an orange and burgundy lip. Its dark green leaves have variegated marks that result in lighter green tiger stripes.
34. Phalaenopsis Celebensis
With dark green leaves that have a scaled or netted appearance due to variegation, this plant also has dainty white blossoms with speckled gold and fuchsia centers.
35. Phalaenopsis Stuartiana
This striking orchid has white blooms with brown specks and a brown and gold speckled center. The flowers are very fragrant and grow in tight clusters.
The variegated leaves are dark green with tiger stripes or speckled lines.
36. Phalaenopsis lindenii
A miniature orchid species, phalaenopsis lindenii has silvery green leaves with dark green spots. These leaves are narrower than most phalaenopsis species. The blooms are pink and white with a gold center and sweet fragrance.
37. Phalaenopsis Deliciosa ‘Silver Leaf’
True to its name, this orchid has somewhat ruffled silvery leaves with wavy edges and dark green edges and centers. The small flowers are pink and white and grow in clusters.
38. Phalaenopsis Philippinensis
Named for its country of origin, this orchid has creamy white petals with a golden center that overlap. The variegated leaves have tiger stripes.
39. Phalaenopsis Bronze Maiden
As its name suggests, the flowers of this orchid species are orange and pink in color with occasional speckling on the slender petals.
Its variegated leaves are usually light green with subtle spots of different sizes.
40. Phalaenopsis Amabilis Variegated
This angelic orchid has pure white blooms and striking leaves with yellow and dark green stripes.
41. Phalaenopsis Sogo Yenlin ‘Coffee’
With bright fuchsia blooms and green leaves that have bright yellow edges, this miniature Phalaenopsis orchid species is popular for both its variegation and striking colors of its flowers.
42. Phalaenopsis Sogo Vivien ‘Leaf’s Edge’
Also known as “Doritaenopsis Sogo Vivien,” this variegated orchid is named for its characteristic yellow border on green each of its broad leaves.
The blooms are pink, white, or purple with distinctive veins and a white edge around each of the petals.
43. Phalaenopsis ‘Coffey’ (mini)
A miniature version of the Phalaenopsis Sogo Yenlin Coffee, this version has the same variegation and color of blooms, though it grows to a mature height of between 6 – 8 inches.
44. Paphiopedilum delenatii f. alba
Native to Vietnam, this species of slipper orchid has a subtle rose-like fragrance and pure white flowers that occasionally have a hint of rose pink. Its lip has a bright yellow spot.
The leaves have a unique form of variegation, the dark green segments appearing like mosaic tiles between thin yellow borders.
45. Paphiopedilum Lynleigh Koopowitz
This slipper orchid has veined white and mauve petals and dark green variegated leaves with specks and tiger stripes.
46. Paphiopedilum Norman’s Jade
Named for its distinct jade green color, this slipper orchid has striking dappled leaves of yellow and green. Its petals are a combination of jade green and burgundy, with stripes and speckling.
47. Sedirea Japonica Minmaru Shima
A miniature orchid species, this plant’s variegation manifests in the form of cream and green stripes on its small, rounded leaves. The blossoms are speckled pink and cream, growing near ground level beside the leaves.
Its mature height is between 3 – 5 inches, a compact species ideal for orchid growers in small living spaces.
48. Sedirea Japonica Minmaru
This species is the full-size version of the Sedirea Japonica Minmaru Shima. The blooms and variegation are the same as the miniature kind. Still very compact, just a little bigger than the miniature version.
49. Sedirea Japonica Seigyokumaru
Also known as Nagoran in Japan, this dwarf orchid has distinctive round leaves with subtle variegated stripes and edges. The blossoms are cream with purple speckles on the lower petals.
50. Vanilla Planifolia Variegata
Vanilla comes from this popular orchid, with its elongated cream-colored blossoms. Its oval-shaped leaves are yellow and medium green. This orchid grows well in hanging baskets due to its cascading, vine-like leaves.
What causes variegation in orchids?
– Natural variegation
Variegation can be natural.
During cell division, cytoplasmic organelles like chloroplasts are usually split about evenly between daughter cells. But sometimes by chance one daughter cell will have no chloroplasts. The locations with a partial or complete lack of green chloroplasts will result in a lighter color. This is how spotted and striped patterns are naturally created in the leaves.
When this happens at the dividing tissue at a growth tip or at the meristem, variegation may become permanent.
Many Phalaenopsis species have naturally variegated leaves with an even distribution of spots or stripes of a lighter color. Some species (e.g. Phalaenopsis Schilleriana, Phalaeneopsis Philippinensis, Phalaenopsis Pinlong Cheris, Phalaeneopsis lindenii) have more uniform and clear markings throughout the leaves, while others (e.g. Phalaenopsis Stuartiana, Phalaenopsis Sanderiana) have less clear and uniform markings on their leaves.
– Induced variegation caused by a virus or chemical
Variegation can also be induced or provoked by viral infection or inoculating a chemical into an orchid during the germination stage. Certain chemicals can be used to kill chloroplasts to induce variegation. The result is an abnormal distribution of green chloroplasts in plants that normally have even distribution.
According to the American Orchid Society, orchids with a virus infection may result in yellow stripes in the leaves, with ringspot patterns or yellow or purplish blotches.
If you take a virused orchid for checking, many variegated species show positive for virus but seem to be asymptomatic to transmit the virus to other orchids.
If the variegation is an induced genetic mutation, they need to be cloned asexually by stem cutting to preserve the plant tissues rather than reproduced sexually by pollination.
Care for variegated orchids
Since variegation is due to a lack of chlorophyll, such orchids tend to prefer a lower light level. So they are more delicate than their normal counterparts. More light will cause markings to appear yellow, while less light will make them turn white.
Which is your favorite variegated orchid? Tell us in the comments below.