Persicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’ –PLANT FIX

Persicaria virgniana ‘Vareigata’ shines in autumn

Such a cool plant–but I can never remember it’s name.  I purchased it from the old Heronswood Nursery in Kingston as Persicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’, but I see it listed from time to time now with the genus name of Tovara.  This is one plant I’ve not seen offered in a local nursery since I bought it–catalog order is most likely your only source.

Regardless of it’s plant tag or how you get your hands on it, this is a swell perennial that I have never needed to divide in the 15+ years I’ve had it, and it’s produced a mere 2 seedlings after the only summer warm enough for 1 of my three original plants to flower.  I have heard that the original green form from the Eastern United States can become a bully.  For me, anyway ‘Variegata’ is nothing of the sort.

Look ma! no “chevron”

Many know of Tovara virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’–recognizable by the distinctive maroon chevron on each variegated leaf.  But plain ‘Variegata” has no red patterning and I prefer it–a tad cleaner look in my eyes.  It’s perfect with the bright blue fall blooms of monkshood, a standout foil to any plain green foliage, and a dramatic companion to the dark purple leafed Ligularias.  The lightly colored leaves bring a bright splash to a dark location and in the early evening, or during a full moon, it positively glows.

Persicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’ superficially resembles a Hosta.  Taking awhile in spring to get going, you’ll not remember it’s dallying come summer and fall–when it looks strong and healthy–not tired and ready for dormancy, like Hostas do right about now.

Lighting up a partial shade bedPersicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’ requires afternoon shade and it doesn’t tolerate drought.  Afternoon sun will cause it to wilt, even with ample water–and that’s here in our notoriously cool summer Pacific Northwest.  In warmer climes than mine, full shade might be requisite.  This is not, however, a water hog that likes wet feet.  It prefers either soil with a high humus content or heavier consistency that doesn’t dry out too quickly.  The right site and you’ll be in for a long, rewarding relationship with Persicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’.  Happy plant hunting.

© Colleen Miko, 2013

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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One Response to Persicaria virginiana ‘Variegata’ –PLANT FIX

  1. rkruvand says:

    I have been growing Persecaria/Tovara ‘painter’s palette’ for about 20 years in gardens in zones 5 and 7. It’s a shade ground cover here in z.7. I have found that if it gets more sun, the red chevron disappears and it looks just like your plain P. virginiana. If I give those plants more shade, the red comes back. They self-seed like crazy and I used to pot extras and give them away; now I just throw them in the compost heap. If yours aren’t blooming, you aren’t missing much. The tiny red flowers aren’t much to look at, the plants tend to stretch out when blooming, and having spent all that energy to bloom and seed they get a bit shabby looking by late summer. I recently realized that my Dad had a patch of the green form in our yard in the 1950’s, that he called “pop-seed” because of the way it shoots seeds when you touch it.

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