How to Grow and Maintain Your Variegated Burle Marx Plant

The variegated Burle Marx has become an increasingly popular houseplant in recent years, and it’s easy to see why! It is one of the most striking ornamental plants available today, with leaves that shimmer with deep green and gold tones, giving it an almost metallic appearance.

Burle Marx designed more than 100 parks in Brazil, but his most distinctive creations are probably his Burle Marx plants. These leafy shrubs and trees can be seen at residences and public parks throughout the country, and they’re also popular in landscaping in other tropical or subtropical regions worldwide.

Variegated Burle Marx plants are gorgeous, but their exuberant appearance makes them a bit fussy. Here’s how to grow and care for these unique plants so that you can enjoy their tropical beauty year-round.

What is the Variegated Burle Marx?

Variegated Burle Marx

Variegated Burle Marx is a plant that belongs to the Dracaena family. These plants are native to Africa and enjoy warm weather and sunlight. The variegated leaves stand out, but they will slowly lose their color if not adequately cared for.

Named after Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, these unique plants add that splash of bright color to any garden while also providing exciting foliage that will keep your neighbors guessing what kind of plant it might be!

Where Does It Come From?

This spectacular plant is named after Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. You can purchase a few different varieties, but the most popular one is the variegated version. These plants typically grow up to 3 feet high in containers or as a ground cover. These plants need lots of sunlight, so place them in an area with at least 6-8 hours of direct light each day.

Why Is It So Popular?

The variegated Burle Marx is a trendy plant because it is relatively easy to care for, looks great in various settings, and has a unique leaf pattern. It only grows between six inches and two feet tall, so you can use it in smaller spaces that would not work with taller plants. The leaves are also glossy, making them stand out when they catch the light.

How Do You Encourage Variegation In Burle Marx?

If you want to encourage variegation in your Variegated Burle Marx, make sure you plant it in a shaded area. If the plant is not getting enough sun, the leaves will all be the same color, and they will start showing off their white, pink, and green stripes if they get enough sunlight. Variegation can also be encouraged by using a fertilizer that has iron in it.

How to Grow Variegated Burle Marx

Variegated Burle Marx Stem Cutting
Variegated Burle Marx Stem Cutting

It is just as simple to propagate a variegated Burle Marx as it is to grow other plants. Furthermore, there are a few propagation techniques to pick from. If you’re a beginner, we recommend sticking to the primary approach of soil and stem cuttings. However, if you’ve used this procedure before, you should try using the air layering method.

Making Use of Stem Cuttings

  1. This approach requires stem cutting. So, you first need to cut out a stem from your Burle Marx plant. The cutting should be 2-4 inches long and below a leaf node. This task will also necessitate the use of sterilized pruning shears. To sanitize the shears, use isopropyl alcohol.
  2. The next step is to cure the fresh stem cutting. After cutting, place it in a warm place for 7-10 days to cure.
  3. During the 7-10 days of curing, prepare the plant soil and pot for propagating the stem cutting. Even for a cutting, it’s preferable to use peat moss sphagnum as the soil. Drainage holes should also be present in the plant pot you choose.
  4. After about a week of curing, plant your stem cutting. Make a few inches-deep hole with your finger. Pack the soil around the cutting after placing it in the hole.
  5. Tie your stem cutting to a straw if it won’t stand erect. This should help to keep the cutting straight.
  6. Position your stem cutting in an east or north-facing window. Fertilize and water it as you would the mother plant. After about a month, the stem cutting will begin to take root.

Making Use of Air Layering

  1. To begin air layering a variegated Burle Marx, make a 2-inch long and 2-inch deep cut in the plant’s stem.
  2. After you’ve made your cut, insert a toothpick into the hole. Place it in such a way that it prevents the incision from closing.
  3. Soak a teaspoon of sphagnum peat moss in water. Rub the peat moss all over the stem and incision.
  4. Wrap a string around the stem and the peat moss to help in keeping it on the cut area.
  5. Prepare plant soil and a pot for your new plant while you wait for the roots to develop. Use a plant pot with drainage holes at the bottom and well-draining soil.
  6. After around three weeks, you should see roots from the cut area and the sphagnum peat moss. You can separate your young plant from the mother plant when the roots are about 3 inches long. Take great care not to damage the young roots while doing this.

How to Care for Variegated Burle Marx

Variegated Burle Marx

Variegated Burle Marx is a spectacular plant that has beautiful colors and markings. It’s easy to care for, but it does require some maintenance. The first step is ensuring the soil is well drained because this plant doesn’t do well in wet conditions. It would be best if you also thought about keeping your variegated Burle Marx in a spot where it will get plenty of sun but not too much heat.

Other steps for caring for your variegated Burle Marx are as follows:


They like damp but not soggy soil, just like other philodendron varieties. Hence, ensure the pot you choose has a drainage hole in the bottom so water can drain. They do not thrive when their soil dries out. Waterlogging can upset the plant, causing drooping leaves and delayed or stunted development. Overwatering is more manageable than underwatering, so choose a watering routine that suits you and your plant.


Variegated Burle Marx enjoys extreme humidity! If you reside in a dry climate, a daily misting will suffice. Use a humidifier during the cold, dry winter months. Alternatively, set a pot of water on your burner and boil it for 30 minutes daily.

Fertilizer and Soil Requirements

Fertilize your plant only during the growing season. Feed your plant diluted organic fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Fertilizers can help plants grow. In the winter, however, the plant does not require fertilizing. Choose a potting mix that is well-depleted, airy, and loose for the development of variegated Burle Marx. The soil pH should be between 5.6 and 6.5.


Because Variegated Burle Marx grows only around 2 feet, it does not require regular pruning. On the other hand, pruning can be done to keep the plant’s shape and size or remove dead plant portions.

Common Problems of the Variegated Burle Marx


If consumed, variegated Burle Marx can be quite harmful to both humans and pets. The calcium oxalate crystals in all sections of the plant are irritating to the esophagus and mouth.

Root Rot

Root rot might occur if your variegated Burle Marx is overwatered. Remove the plant from the pot to inspect it for root rot. Examine carefully; if mushy or black patches form, cut them out with sterilized scissors or a knife. Repot the plant after removing any damaged roots.


Mealybugs and thrips are some common pests that attack the variegated Burle Marx. These pests have the potential to harm or kill your plant. To get rid of any pests, use insecticide soaps or neem oil.

Withering Leaves

Wilting leaves can arise when you underwater your variegated Burle Marx, and dehydration causes the under-watered plant to starve, and its leaves begin to droop. Water is also essential for photosynthesis, so sparing water might lead to drooping leaves.

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves can be caused by overwatering and a lack of humidity in your variegated Burle Marx. Hence, you must maintain optimum growth conditions if the brown leaves start springing up.

Your yard may already be bursting with beautiful colors, but if you have yet to try growing Variegated Burle Marx, you’re missing out on the ultimate tropical-looking plant. Variegated Burle Marx has a reputation as a complex plant, but if you know how to care for it correctly, it can be a fantastic addition to your garden.

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