Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’

Heart-leaved houttuynia 'Chameleon'


A riotously colourful, deciduous perennial to 20cm+ with heart-shaped green leaves featuring dramatic cream and crimson splashes. It spreads enthusiastically via underground runners, especially in wet soils, so may need to be controlled in some locations. The leaf variegation is highly variable and some stems may be predominantly green while others are heavily variegated.

For best colour plant in full sun, though this is an easy plant that adapts to a range of conditions.


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Origin: Cultivar of horticultural origin, species native to Southeast Asia
Genus: Houttuynia
Species / Cultivar: cordata 'Chameleon'
Common Name: Heart-leaved houttuynia 'Chameleon'
Synonym: Houttuynia cordata 'Tricolor'

Plant Biography

Houttuynia cordata, sometimes known as ‘fish mint’, originates from Southeast Asia. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, primarily for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The cultivar ‘Chameleon’ was developed for its ornamental appeal, featuring striking variegated foliage. The variegation is not stable, so plants can exhibit stems with green leaves while other stems will be highly variegated. This photo of two plants side-by-side demonstrates this.

Introduced to Western horticulture in the 20th century, it quickly gained popularity in gardens for its vibrant colours and hardiness. With its easy care and highly variable colouring, Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ remains a favoured plant in both medicinal and ornamental gardens, appreciated for its unique appearance and cultural significance.

Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'
Soil: Moisture Retaining
Soil that drains at a slower rate due to higher organic matter content.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Full Sun to Part Shade
Enjoys direct sun most of the day, but tolerant of fewer sunlit hours or light dappling.
Eventual Height: 0.1-0.5m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.5-1m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Deciduous
Sheds all its foliage annually, so for a period of the year it will be without foliage.
Lifecycle: Perennial
This plant is persistant and does not die off after flowering. It will return each season indefinitely, if provided with suitable growing conditions.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ thrives in moist, well-drained soil and can tolerate full sun to partial shade. It typically grows 10-50cm tall and spreads vigorously through rhizomes. To manage its spreading habit, plant it in containers or use root barriers. Regular pruning helps to maintain its vibrant appearance.

This plant prefers a consistently moist environment, making it ideal for water gardens or damp areas. Mulching can help retain soil moisture. While hardy and low-maintenance, be mindful of its rapid growth to prevent it from overtaking other garden plants.


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