Hootenanny (Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon')

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Full Shade
Water Preferences: In Water
Wet Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Plant Height: 18 to 24 inches
Plant Spread: 12 to 48 inches or more
Leaves: Fragrant
Fruit: Dehiscent
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Green
Other: Greenish-white with white bracts
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Rhizome
Suitable Locations: Bog gardening
Uses: Groundcover
Water gardens
Medicinal Herb
Salad greens
Cooked greens
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Leaves
Eating Methods: Raw
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Other: division of crowns or digging and dividing the rhizomes
Containers: Suitable in 1 gallon
Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Miscellaneous: Goes Dormant

like the colors

The Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP MembersThe Top 25 Water Garden Plants, Selected by ATP Members
By dave on March 15, 2014

Here's a report of the most popular water garden plants from our database!

(Full article14 comments)
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Photo gallery:

Posted by pirl (Southold, Long Island, NY - Zone 7a) on Aug 24, 2014 9:16 PM

If you could translate "the worst pain imaginable" to plant form, the name would be Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'. The most mortifying and embarrassing part of it is that I bought it and I planted it, thinking it would look lovely among the daylilies, and it did! Here, in full sun with watering by the irrigation system three times a week, it found its own private earthly paradise. It went left, right, backwards, and into the lawn. I'm only surprised that it didn't climb the trees! Eventually it covered 50' x 12', and many days of digging 8 hours a day only seemed to invigorate it. The most infinitesimal piece, left in the earth by accident, will begin the entire process again. Words fail me when trying to describe its energy and resiliency.

I sprayed with Roundup and it reacted as though I had fed it. I covered the entire area with black plastic, thanks to a friend's advice, and after eight months of that highly unattractive "garden," I removed the plastic and began spraying any new sprouts with full-strength Poison Ivy Killer. Now, just one sprig has me running for the killer.

I've gardened for over 50 years and this was the worst problem I've ever faced.

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Posted by jvdubb (48036 MI - Zone 6b) on Aug 24, 2014 6:53 PM

In my zone 6 yard this plant is a NIGHTMARE! The previous owners planted it in a northside bed. It completely took over, to the extent of choking and killing shrubs. Then it jumped the metal edging and started into the lawn. When I first moved in I did not know what it was, just that I wanted to get rid of it. I sprayed it with Roundup over and over and it just kept coming back. Then I decided to dig it out. Awful! It has a horrible smell that is nearly impossible to get off your hands. There are very deep runner roots that sustain this plant, so merely removing the top growth will get you nowhere. It took me two years to relatively clear this bed. I literally dug out the bed two feet down and sifted the soil to try and remove every piece of root. I still find a bit coming up here and there. But I remove it immediately. I suspect it will always be there!

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Posted by Catmint20906 (Maryland - Zone 7a) on Aug 27, 2014 7:12 PM

I thought Houttuynia (Houttuynia cordata) 'Chameleon' was so pretty in the nursery with its multicolored leaves. Fortunately, the nursery employee warned me that it was very aggressive and suggested I plant it in a container. I did so, thankfully (I'm in zone 7a). Then I noticed the roots pushing forcefully through the bottom of the container, and lo and behold: Flower stalks appeared with a zillion seeds each. I began removing the flower stalks as soon as I saw them, but they kept coming. Finally, I decided it wasn't worth the risk and removed the plant. After reading the many horror stories about this plant, I am still grateful to the nursery employee who gently warned me about it.

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Posted by Sharon (Calvert City, KY - Zone 7a) on Sep 29, 2011 4:14 PM

This little plant is a happy ground cover for shady areas. It has a tiny white bloom, much like a strawberry plant in mid spring. It is considered invasive in some climates, but it has taken 4 years for it to fill in a 2' x 4' semi shaded area here in zone 6/7.

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Posted by NJBob (Vernon N.J. - Zone 6a) on Oct 5, 2011 10:27 PM

Very invasive and very hard to get rid of if you decide it's not for you. So be careful where you plant it.

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Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Sep 29, 2014 12:21 PM

I use this as a ground cover for a hosta bed. It has not overstepped its boundaries, although it does get a a bit over-eager in growth. I just pull it back to the ground, knowing it will rebound quickly. It does brighten up the shady corner, and offsets the hosta nicely. On the negative side - I cannot abide the smell of the foliage, which is quite sharp. I also find the variegation tends to revert back to solid green (I try to pull those out entirely but don't always get them all). As others have noted, I would hesitate to put this in a bed that cannot be closely controlled.

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Plant Events from our members
lovesblooms On February 24, 2018 Seeds sown
winter sown
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Discussion Threads about this plant
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image ID by DaylilySLP Apr 11, 2019 6:37 PM 0
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