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Variegated Leaves of Hosta Becoming Solid Green

Several years ago, I planted variegated hosta many places throughout our yard. Some are now turning all green. Why is this?

This is commonly seen on hostas and other variegated plants. You will often hear gardeners say their plants have reverted back to the original form. This is somewhat true.

Let's start by discussing how new plants are discovered and introduced. Many variegated plants are a sport, some type of mutation, of the parent plant. For example a solid green hosta suddenly develops an offshoot with uniquely variegated leaves. This portion of the plant is propagated by division, cuttings or tissue culture to maintain this unique quality. If the unique feature changes back to the original appearance of the parent plant, in this case solid green leaves, it has reverted back to its original characteristics.

If the solid leaves are different than the parents than the sport has sported or mutated a second time exhibiting different characteristics. This is how many new cultivars arise, are discovered, then propagated and introduced into the market.

Some variegated plants are hybrids not mutations. Their unique foliage arises from crossing two different species of plants. The offspring contains genetic material from both parents. If their leaves suddenly change from variegated to solid green it is not a reversion but rather a sport (mutation).

No matter what we call it, there is nothing you can do to stop or "change it back". Remove plants you don't like or that out compete the more desirable plants. And who knows, you might just end up with a sport of a hybrid that is better than the plant you purchased. 


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