Variegated hostas have white, cream or yellow in their leaves that may look like solid patterns, blotches or stripes.
‘Marginate’ variegation is when variegation occurs on the margin of the hosta’s leaves.
‘Medio Variegation’ is when variegation is in the center of the hosta’s leaves.
Hosta variegation is caused by mutations of cells in one or more of the layers of the leaf.
This is caused by variations in organelles within the plant cells, which are called “plastids.”
Plastids contain different colored pigments and largely determine the color of leaves.
Chloroplasts containing chlorophyll are green. Plastids can also be orange, red, yellow, brown, whitish to colorless.
When a mutation occurs, the normal ratio of plastids is rearranged.
Some colors become more abundant, and the leaf takes on a variegated look.
Not all hosta mutations are stable (they can revert back to their previous pre-mutated state, or they can continue mutating).
An unstable mutation can be affected by environmental factors like sunlight and fast growth, which can change the quantity and proportion of plastids in the cells.
For example, white variegated hostas have minimal amounts of chlorophyll
In full sun the chlorophyll levels can increase and cause the leaves to pick up a green cast and appear less variegated