45 Variegated Orchids You Will Love (PICTURES)

Orchid variegated species - Phalaenopsis Schilleriana

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Variegated orchids are rare beautiful gems for any orchid collection.  Their leaves have intriguing patterns of different colors, giving us something to admire even when the plant is not in bloom.  What’s more, the variegation differs from leaf to leaf and may change under different lighting situations and stages of growth.  

In this article, we have compiled a list of 45 orchid species and hybrids with variegated foliage. 

If you are looking for a unique one with pretty leaves to add to your collection, this article has what you need.

Table of Contents

Types of variegated leaf patterns in orchids

A “variegated leaf” refers to one with more than one color, which can be in a mottled pattern, in spots or patches of colors, striped, or with a border of a lighter color. 

The lighter color can be yellow, white, light green or silver.

The variegated colors and patterns often vary from leaf to leaf and from plant to plant of the same species or hybrid.  The color may change in different stages of growth and also in different lighting in the environment.  

Since variegated orchids are rare, they are generally more expensive.

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 chloroplastsThe 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 the tip of a growth, or 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 in yellow, while less light will make them turn white.

Variegated Orchids for Home Growers

Orchid with unique variegation

1. Macodes petola (variegated jewel orchid)

Orchid variegated species - Macodes Petola Jewel Orchid

Orchids with mottled markings on leaves

2. Phalaeneopsis schilleriana

Orchid variegated species - Phalaenopsis Schilleriana

3. Phalaenopsis sanderiana

4. Phalaenopsis Pinlong Cheris

Orchid variegated species - Phalaenopsis Pinlong Cheris

5. Phalaneopsis Punctatissima ‘Sweet Fragrance’

6. Phalaenopsis celebensis

7. Phalaeneopsis Stuartiana

Orchid variegated species - Phalaenopsis Stuartiana

8. Phalaeneopsis lindenii (mini-orchid)

9. Phalaenopsis deliciosa ‘Silver Leaf’

10. Phalaeneopsis Philippinensis

Orchid variegated species - Phalaenopsis Philippinensis

11. Phalaenopsis Bronze Maiden

Orchids with a light-colored border

12. Hoya Kerrii variegata (with heart-shaped leaves)

Orchid variegated species - Hoya Kerrii variegata

13. Hoya Macrophylla (variegata)

14. Phalaenopsis Amabilis Variegated

Phalaenopsis Amabilis Variegated

15. Phalaenopsis Sogo Yenlin ‘Coffee’

16. Phalaenopsis Sogo Vivien ‘Leaf’s Edge’

Phalaenopsis Sogo Vivien

17. Phalaenopsis ‘Coffey’ (mini)

18. Chia E. Yenlin ‘Variegata’

19. Oncidium Kathrin Zoch ‘variegata’

Oncidium Kathrin Zoch 'variegata'

20. Cymbidium Golden Elf var. variegata

Cymbidium Golden Elf var. variegata

21. Dendrobium Speciosum ‘Maizuru’ variegated

22. Dendrobium Anosmum, variegated

Dendrobium Anosmum, variegated

23. Dendrobium Magic Beans, variegated

24. Dendrobium Moniliforme Albomarginatum, variegated

25. Dendrobium Kingianum variegated

26. Dendrobium Burana jade variegated

Dendrobium Burana jade variegated

27. Dendrobium Loddigesii variegated

28. Dendrobium Aphyllum variegated

Dendrobium Aphyllum variegated

29. Dendrobium Hybrid variegated

Dendrobium Hybrid variegated

30. Cattleya Moscombe ‘variegata’

31. Neofinetia falcata variegated

Neofinetia falcata variegated

32. Arachnis Maggie Oei

33. Grammatophyllum scriptum

Orchid with striped variegation

34. Sedirea Japonica Minmaru Shima

Sedirea Japonica Minmaru Shima

35. Sedirea Japonica Minmaru

36. Sedirea Japonica Seigyokumaru

37. Vanilla Planifolia variegata

Vanilla Planifolia variegata

38. Oncidium Sharry Baby Red Fantasy

39. Oriental Cymbidiums Variegated

40. Cymbidium Sinense

Cymbidium Sinense

41. Cymbidium Ensifolium

Cymbidium Ensifolium

42. Cymbidium ensifolium Shi Zhang Hong

43. Bulbophyllum reticulatum

44. Epiphronitis Veitchii ‘Variegata

Epiphronitis Veitchii 'Variegata

45. Alba Variegated Chinese Orchid

Which one is your favorite? Tell us below in the comment.

Happy growing!

Photo Credits

JMKCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“心葉毬蘭 Hoya Kerrii – panoramio” by lienyuan lee is licensed under CC BY 3.0

sunoochi from Sapporo, Hokkaido, JapanCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

sunoochi from Sapporo, Hokkaido, JapanCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

snotch from Sapporo, Hokkaido, JapanCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Phalaenopsis Pinlong Cheris” by blumenbiene is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Sogo Vivien” by aeyen is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Oncidium Kathrin Zoch variegata.  Orchideen-Wichmann.  https://www.orchideen-wichmann.de/fr/oncidium-kathrin-zoch-variegata.html

“Cymbidium Golden Elf” by chooyutshing is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“File:Dendrobium anosmum Lindl., Edwards’s Bot. Reg. 31(Misc.) 32 (1845) (48532683412).jpg” by sunoochi from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“File:Dendrobium loddigesii Orchi 2013-05-05 022.jpg” by Orchi is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Dendrobium Aphyllum(IMG_0388” by maytheforcebewithyouOB1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“彩葉石斛 Dendrobium hybrid variegated [香港沙田國蘭展 Shatin Orchid Show, Hong Kong]” by 阿橋花譜 KHQ Flower Guide is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“File:Cymbidium golden-elf IP.jpg” by Leo Michels is marked with CC0 1.0

“報歲愛國 Cymbidium sinense ‘Patriotic’ [香港沙田國蘭展 Shatin Orchid Show, Hong Kong]” by 阿橋花譜 KHQ Flower Guide is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“[Taiwan] Cymbidium ensifolium (L.) Sw., Nova Acta Regiae Soc. Sci. Upsal. 6: 77 (1799)” by sunoochi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“四季嬌鶴 Cymbidium ensifolium ‘Charming Crane’ [香港沙田國蘭展 Shatin Orchid Show, Hong Kong]” by 阿橋花譜 KHQ Flower Guide is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Sedirea japonica” by orchidgalore is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Vanilla planifolia variegata” by D.Eickhoff is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“epiphronitis veitchii” by douneika is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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