If you want to add color to your outdoor garden or spruce up your indoor living area, you can’t beat the lush beauty of plants with striped leaves.
The multicolored foliage is an ideal decorative quality that can break up the visual monotony of your backyard or home. With so many species available on the market, there’s no shortage of garden and household plants that bear this distinctive, eye-catching feature.
- Types of Plants with Striped Leaves
- Plants With Striped Leaves FAQ
Types of Plants with Striped Leaves
Plants with striped leaves are generally classified as a specific type of variegated plant. Plants are identifiable through the natural phenomenon of multicolored leaves – in this case, by the appearance of stripes.
The reasons for stripes on these plants are almost as varied as the colors themselves. For some species, the different coloring is merely the result of genetics. For others, the coloration is due to sunlight exposure. In certain rare instances, the positive aesthetic effect of the appealing foliage comes about from a negative cause of nutrient deficiency.
Whatever the cause behind the coloring, plants with striped leaves offer a beautiful decorative quality to your home or garden, improving air quality and even reducing stress levels!
If you are considering purchasing or cultivating plants with striped leaves, a few general notes apply to most types.
Firstly, like all variegated plants, plants with striped leaves are sensitive to sunlight, so it’s essential to place them in a bright spot with indirect light.
Also, they may require more frequent watering as the multicolored foliage often means the leaves are susceptible to premature drying.
Bearing all this in mind, I’ve included below a list of some of the most well-known varieties of plants with striped leaves, including some helpful tips on cultivation and maintenance for your home or garden. Let’s take a look!
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
- Best grown in temperate regions with indirect sunlight
- Require regular care in the form of fertilisation and moist soil during the growing season.
- Non-toxic for both animals and humans
This charming little houseplant – also known as Calathea – thrives best in the warmer climates of USDA Zones 10b to 11 and will be an attractive addition to an indirectly well-lit indoor setting. Its name comes about from its unique ability to raise its leaves in the evening, resembling a sort of horticultural prayer.
In its natural setting of the Brazilian rainforests, the Prayer Plant can reach a height of twelve inches, with distinctively striped oval leaves, each averaging five inches in length. As a houseplant, even the most rare Calathea requires relatively little care, although, during the growth season, it is essential to maintain moist soil and fertilization every month. A little care goes a long way when cultivating a Prayer Plant.
Generally speaking, the Prayer Plant isn’t especially bothered by insects. However, it is essential to watch for spider mites and mealybugs. Also, keep the soil regularly drained as root rot can take hold in excessively damp conditions, as emphasized by the University of Florida.
This plant is considered non-toxic to both humans and animals.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Extremely easy to grow.
- Can withstand a wide variety of temperatures.
- It is considered non-toxic for both animals and humans.
Although the Spider Plant is often used as a houseplant for its natural beauty and air-enriching properties, it can prove hardy across a wide range of temperatures. That being said, it is not frost-resistant and naturally thrives best in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
If properly cared for, the Spider Plant can reach a height of twenty-four inches. However, it can grow for many feet if grown as a hanging plant. It is known for its unmistakable narrow leaves, often green with white striping, reaching eight to eighteen inches long.
Because the Spider Plant is known to be exceptionally hardy in all sorts of climates, excluding frost, it is considered one of the easiest plants to grow and cultivate. However, as with most variegated plant varieties, regular maintenance requires bright though indirect light. Also, try to water your Spider Plant no more than once a week without over-saturating the soil.
The Spider Plant is considered non-toxic for humans and animals, and its mustard-flavored leaves have even been used to season stews!
Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
- Regarded as one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain.
- Only needs a few hours of direct light per day.
- It is considered toxic to both animals and humans.
There are many reasons why the Snake Plant is considered an ideal houseplant. Although when grown outdoors, it thrives best in tropical and subtropical climates such as USDA Zones 10 to 12, as an indoor plant, it can withstand various climate and lighting conditions.
Aside from being a beautiful, easy-to-care-for addition to your home, furnishing your interior surroundings with a Snake Plant or two also carries the added benefit of purification.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that the Snake Plant can extract harmful elements like benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Pennsylvania State University has detailed some types of Snake plants and their various traits.
If cultivated as a houseplant, the Snake Plant will generally grow no taller than two feet and is easily recognizable through its stripey, sword-shaped leaves. As already mentioned, it can withstand a multitude of climate conditions, so throughout most of the day, a low, indirect light or even a modest amount of shade will suffice.
However, be sure to avoid over-watering as this could potentially lead to root rot. In the winter, the Snake Plant can survive on watering once a month or every two months!
Be forewarned, however. Despite the Snake Plant’s many advantages in terms of hardiness and air purification, it has been proven to be toxic to animals and humans because of saponin toxins.
Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina)
- Considered easy to grow but extremely difficult to maintain.
- Requires bright and indirect light. Dim light, especially, will prove harmful to the plant.
- She is considered to be mildly toxic to certain animals.
The stunning beauty of the Inch Plant is counterbalanced by the extreme difficulty in cultivating and maintaining it.
Growing an inch plant isn’t hard, especially outdoors. In fact, in certain areas of the world, the Inch Plant is classified as an invasive species. However, if used as a houseplant, several important factors come into play regarding maintenance.
Firstly, the Inch Plant, though a quick and expansive grower, has a minimal lifespan. Meanwhile, those that survive beyond their projected expiration are not known to age well.
The most detailed attention you can give your Inch Plant won’t prevent it from losing the leaves at its base, which means, at least once a year, cuttings will have to be taken and then re-rooted to promulgate growth.
Additionally, Inch Plants require frequent misting and a half-strength liquid fertilizer every month.
Again, this detailed care is balanced by the magnificent beauty of the Inch Plant, which naturally appears as ground covering in outdoor settings across USDA Zones 8a to 12b. Its kaleidoscopically colored leaves have a bluish-green appearance on top and a magenta hue underneath. They average eight to twelve millimeters in length and five to eight millimeters in width.
It’s important to note that the Inch Plants area is considered mildly toxic to dogs and other animals, so ensuring your pets steer clear of them is highly advisable.
Plants With Striped Leaves FAQ
Why are my plant’s striped leaves turning brown?
Plants with striped leaves are classified as variegated plants, which means they require a perfect balance when it comes to light. You may be exposing your plant to too much direct sunlight. Try to give your plant bright but indirect sunlight for proper maintenance.
Can I use tap water when watering plants with striped leaves?
Striped and other types of variegated foliage tend to be sensitive to minerals. Although you can use tap water occasionally, it’s probably best to opt for distilled water when dealing with variegated houseplants.
Are pests a problem for striped-leaved plants?
They can be, and the most common type of pest infestation for striped and other variegated houseplants is the spider mite. If left unattended, these tiny creatures can quickly destroy a beautiful plant. Make it part of your regular maintenance to check your leaves weekly for signs of infestation.
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.