Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chameleon Plant
Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'

Family: Saururaceae
Genus: Houttuynia (hoo-TY-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: cordata (kor-DAY-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Chameleon
Additional cultivar information: (aka Variegata)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

49 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ponds and Aquatics

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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26 positives
29 neutrals
62 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive pmmGarak On Dec 30, 2014, pmmGarak from Gppingen
Germany wrote:

got this for 1 1/2 years now and it still keeps to the places I planted it, so it's not that invasive to me - maybe because I have it at some very dry places. I actually like the taste a lot (though no one else around me seems to understand) in my herb curd.

If it actually turns invasive, I'd love see how it fights my Aegopodium podagraria - another delicious yet in my case really invasive plant - as I really prefer the look of the Houttuynia.

Positive bukay On Aug 31, 2014, bukay from Woodstock, CT wrote:

This plant is an outstanding filler in summer bouquets! It is beautiful with many flowers-- especially zinnias!

Positive Aquias On Mar 1, 2014, Aquias from North Fork, CA wrote:

If this is invasive where you live, why not use it? Its eaten as a vegetable and used as an herb in its native range. Its even purported to have anti-obesity properties.

Negative Rickwebb On Feb 15, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a very fast and rampant growing groundcover that gets into everything. Oftentimes, the cultivar with colored foliage is overtaken by the green mother species appearing, which is a little more invasive. I succeeded in killing it with the strongest form of Round-Up (for Poison-Ivy) after at least four applications.

Negative coriaceous On Jan 18, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I have found this to be the noxious weed that most others here have found it. It's one of the most aggressive weeds I know.

I notice that the variegated form often loses the variegation and reverts to the plain-leafed species.

One other point: I find that this plant can self-sow. I have found a few seedlings as far as 30 feet away from the original planting. So don't count on a root barrier to confine its spread.

It is difficult to control with Glyphosate. I did manage to eradicate it once with weekly application of 4% glyphosate for most of a season in a very dry site.

It often takes three years for any new plant to show its invasive nature: As they say,

"In the first year it sleeps,
In the second year it creeps,
And in the third year it leaps."

Negative Jolanda40 On Jul 7, 2013, Jolanda40 from Amsterdam
Netherlands wrote:

Don't ever think of putting this in your garden voluntary. It looks quite nice but is very, very, so very invase. When I got my garden there was a small area of Houttuynia under some large conifers. I removed the conifers because I wanted more light in my gardens. I dug out the area where the Houttuynia lived and removed hundreds of fleshy roots. Placed barriers in the ground to stop possible remainings from spreading. And guess what? It's growing stronger than ever in the area I've cleaned and besides that it's popping up all over the garden. By now I hate the look and the smell of it.

Negative Motto On Jun 12, 2013, Motto from WEST OLIVE, MI wrote:

This plant was part of the landscaping when we moved into our house 8 years ago. It has been an absolute nightmare trying to get rid of it. It has spread under sidwalks and has even shown up on the other side of my driveway. I even went as far as to cover the entire area up with the plastic used for stretch wrapping boats two years ago and the plant is still living and finding it's way to any seem or hole that it can find.

Neutral pryorworks On May 27, 2013, pryorworks from Essex, CT wrote:

I was Google researching what I needed to do to make this plant do its job as a colorful ground cover. Have had it for ...perhaps...the magic number of six years (see references below regarding this number). It always shows up every spring, but then this little colorful thing never spread out. After reading all the negative comments, I rushed out and dug it up. Last thing I need is for any one thing to take over my much-sweated lst tier garden (which does not offer the dampness that this plant seems to need/want....mercifully.) I put it in a large pot to join other pots in my wagon container garden @ front door. If it is happy, it should be a nice addition. And perhaps I can put it in my windowboxes? For now I am so glad to have been forwarned about this plant's invasiveness and as a result am a new member of Dave's Garden.

Negative annimhere On May 13, 2013, annimhere from Midland, MI wrote:

I moved into my home in 2010 and a raised bed was in the front with an area of about 15 x 10. It was filled with this pretty ivy which I soon found to be super invasive around plants I put in the bed. It took me two years to get rid of this plant. I figured plants need sun and air and leaves to live, so I systematically cut out every leaf as it appeared and cut out any runners I could see above and underground. Once in a while a rare leaf starts to peek up from the earth and is immediately killed by my own hands. After cutting out the leaves and stems, I left them in the sun to thoroughly shrivel and die before tossing or burning them. Can't be too careful with this monster.

Positive EffieH On Sep 8, 2012, EffieH from Amston, CT (Zone 6b) wrote:

Last weekend, I was weeding my garden, and also worrying that I may have Lyme Disease, and while weeding the chameleon plant that I planted about ten years ago and that drives me crazy because it is so invasive, I decided to go in and check the internet to see what I could do to get rid of it once and for all. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is a Chinese herb that is supposed to be THE cure for Lyme Disease and also several other tick borne diseases. And it is incredibly expensive to buy this herb online. And I have a whole yard full of it . . . And it did turn out that I do have Lyme Disease . . . I think I'm going to be making some Dokudami (the Japanese name for it) tea soon!

Negative lareinedujardin On Jun 3, 2012, lareinedujardin from Ridgefield, CT wrote:

I don't know why this plant is even for sale! It is by far the most invasive plant I have ever grown in my over 40 years of gardening! The tinest bit of root will grow and spread where you don't want it....Ordinary weed killer seem to make it thrive rather then kill it...I am going to try some stronger ones soon.

Negative cubajohn On May 15, 2012, cubajohn from Cuba, MO wrote:

Beware of free plants from "friends". It does take over and is impossible to remove once established.

Positive jimtomczak On May 11, 2012, jimtomczak from Mobile, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I was given this plant at a nursery as a freeby with the other plants for my yard. I told a very wise woman named Pirl,(N.Y.) I was puttin it in one of my flower beds. She did not let me go until I told her It was on its way to a landfill. Not the first time she has saved this novice. Hope it isn't the last. She sent pic's of complete beds she dug up and was still praying that It wouldn't pop up again. I lit a candle at St. Judes for her. JIMT. Mobile Al.

Negative Sandylizzy On May 11, 2012, Sandylizzy from Frankfort, NY wrote:

We call this Hootie Tootie because that was simpler to pronounce than its Greek name I actually sought it out and shared it with my sister. Then, I took what my neighbor was getting rid of. It seemed the perfect answer to a small bank between our properties. Now all 3 of us wonder if we'll ever see the end of it. I have dug out the entire bed twice and still it comes back. The first couple of years it doesn't do much and you think it isn't going to grow, but it's actually very busy setting up its evil empire underground. I saw it for sale last year as a water plant and was appalled. If I see anyone admiring the plants at garden centers, I'm not shy about warning them off the stuff, or about advising the personnel to warn people of its invasive tendencies. Meanwhile I just keep pulling and digging the stuff out. I also tried Roundup, which I generally only use as a last resort on poison ivy, but I polluted the ground in vain, because Roundup had very little effect on it. I guess I'll just continue to pull it as it comes up.

Neutral snapple45 On Feb 14, 2012, snapple45 from Holland, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a wonderful pond plant and a wretched garden plant. In the pond as a bog plant or in shallow water it's just great. It adds color and texture, very good looking. In the garden it's ruthless thug. I had it in several areas of my shade garden, spreading rapidly. This is the strategy that worked for me in totally eradicating this plant. First, in areas where it was possible, I dug down about 12" and carfully searched for the deep roots and dug them out. Then I began a total defoliation strategy. If you dont allow the leaves to photosynthesize and produce food, eventually the roots starve. So, every single day I sprayed each and every leaf with Roundup. It would take two successive sprays to kill each individual leaf. Without leaves to make food the roots starved. As soon a new leaf even barely began to appear, I sprayed it immediately. This went on every single day for an entire summer. New leaves were slower and slower to emerge. If I had to miss a day of spraying, I covered the areas that were actively trying to come back with boards or rocks to block the light. No light meant no photosynthesis. No photosynthesis - no food. By September I had it licked. I think that you could probably use horticultural vinegar just as effectively in place of the Roundup. I never really saw this plant take up the Roundup and translocate it to the roots.

Positive Schatz2000 On Oct 29, 2011, Schatz2000 from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

All of you who have this plant running rampant in their yards are really quite blessed. Among it's many medicinal qualities, Houttunynia has been shown to be powerful in inhibiting cell division and tumor growth in cancer patients.who consume it - by a whopping 47.5%. It's eaten in the orient in a number of ways from fried to porridge. It sounds like a "field of diamonds' situation is right there in front of you, lol. You might want to throw a handful or two in your cooking pot as a preventive measure. I wish it grew in the desert so I could grow some.

Negative singingtrees1 On Jul 25, 2011, singingtrees1 from Morton Grove, IL wrote:

A single stem of this showed up in my yard 7 years ago. I suspect it came attached to a plant given to me by a neighbor. I tried pulling, and quickly learned that is an exercise in futility. It spread throughout the bed and was moving into the pathways and vegetable raised beds. Desperate, especially after reading here of others unsuccessful efforts at eradication, I contacted the University of Illinois Extension service. I was told to spray completely in the fall and pull as many roots as I could, then spray immediately in the spring and keep spraying. I have done this (using Round Up Extended Release) religiously. I check the beds at least weekly. The stuff is still sprouting, but its down to one or two stems a week. There may be hope. I'll keep you posted. I feel I must go through another growing season before I can be confident. Final thought, I really don't like using any herbicides. I was at my wit's end in this case.

Positive jfrevcom On Jun 2, 2011, jfrevcom from Hainesport, NJ wrote:

Ditto to all said above. This plant is wonderful color, invasive, fast growing, dependable, low or no maintenance. Plant it as a turf alternative!

Negative emsspark On May 22, 2011, emsspark from Hilton, NY wrote:

This plant was in the front walkway garden when I moved in 4 yrs ago. In a very short time, it took over and choked out all the other flowers in the bed. I used full strength "Round-Up" to kill it, but after 3 yrs, it is still coming up. It shows up in the lawn and 10 feet from where it was originally planted. I haven't planted any new plants in the bed as I'm afraid to till the soil for fear of spreading it further. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm tired of just "growing" dirt there.

Negative mheck On May 14, 2011, mheck from New Castle, IN wrote:

I planted starts from my sister's yard along the base of a chain link fence running along the driveway behind our house. Initially I really liked that it spread and filled in forming a nice base of ground cover along the bottom of the fence. In 3 years it has totally consumed the space and is now growing in the lawn. I have to dig it up 2-3 times a year to keep it from invading my beds along the garage. Mowing keeps the growth at bay, but this spring I am finding starts all the way across our lawn!! I don't know what to do. My brother-in-law is a tree trimmer and has access to herbicides that are used to clear vairances for power lines, but I am afraid it will kill the lawn as well. I wouldn't recommend this plant AT ALL - unless grown in a container. And then I would be afraid of the roots getting out the drainage holes!!

Positive Grindlesgrindis On Mar 29, 2011, Grindlesgrindis from Northridge, CA wrote:

There is evidence that this plant kills cancer cells.

Positive mamorris13 On Nov 4, 2010, mamorris13 from Santa Rosa, CA wrote:

Works great for me in Northern California. I have had this as a 20 ft long by 2 ft wide border between a sidewalk and a stone wall for 15 years, also as similar width border between a deck and a paving stone walk. It forms a beautiful, lush border in my landscaping. Drip irrigation gives it the water it needs, and the dry summer season keeps its spread in check. It goes completely dormant in the winter so it does not invade other areas. However, as evidence of its ability to spread, a few shoots will pop up each year nearly 3 ft away on the other side of a concrete sidewalk, so it does like to spread. I simply nip them back and no problem. My stone wall is part of a terrace that falls away down the slope, and this plant produces small clusters of leaves between the stones- very attractive. I think the scent is appealing to some people and maybe too much for others- it is very strong if you cut or crush fresh foliage. I suggest you try it for yourself at a nursery- break a stem and see how you respond. When the foliage is left alone you get a faint, and to my mind, pleasant citrus like scent from it. If you respect the prolific tendencies of this plant and confine it to a space that will limit its growth, it can provide cover, texture and color that is hard to beat.

Negative Nigelino On Oct 10, 2010, Nigelino from St-Aubin
Switzerland wrote:

Very attractive plant but extremely invasive with a not-too-pleasant odor. It is spreading throughout my flowering wall and into my lawn: even weedkillers do not seem to be effective

Negative pagardenlady On Sep 5, 2010, pagardenlady from Warren, PA wrote:

I think now I understand its common name, Chameleon Plant. It is beautiful in the pot but extremely invasive in the garden. It took a few years, but it has taken over my gardens. My husband used Round-Up and successfully killed all my precious broadleaf flowers, but not this chameleon! I so much regret planting the one small pot of this noxious weed and feel all nurseries should be given a heads-up about its behavior. Here in PA, at least in my garden, which is definitely NOT boggy or wet, it is an invader that cannot be stopped. Pulling it just seems to encourage the roots to multiply faster. Think twice; no, THREE times about introducing this unstoppable weed into your garden.

Negative Oaklift On Aug 25, 2010, Oaklift from Farmington, MI wrote:

I'll add my voice to the chorus of Negative ratings.

I bought six little 4" pots of this about 8 years ago, thinking it would fill in nicely an area between a large decorative rock and an old lilac. The bed has Michigan clay soil with pavers and asphalt driveway on two sides, the third side an arc of hostas and lilies with grass beyond. The first few years I was delighted with this plant. It spread nicely, remained low-growing, and I loved its variegated foliage and dainty white blossoms. Then it took off. Each year it spreads farther and grows taller. My sister spent two days trying to dig it up a couple of years ago, but that didn't even faze its steady march to take over the bed (or perhaps the world). It has insinuated itself in among the other plants and is starting to push out into the grass. Oh my, what a pest. If you pull any plants, the strong smell (similar to cilantro, but stronger and more offensive) remains on your hands for hours, even after repeated washings. I truly wish I had never planted it. I have tried other ground covers elsewhere in contained areas -- yes, even some aggressive ones like ajuga, lily of the valley, ivy, various sedums -- but those are all tame and well-behaved compared to houttuynia.

Positive drdel On Aug 24, 2010, drdel from Staten Island, NY wrote:

I feel I should stick up for this plant. I'm 30 years old, my family and I have been living in this house for 22 years, and I've been interested in gardening for the last 8. We've had Houttuynia in our backyard since we moved in, since the previous owners planted it.

We have the variegated Chameleon under our back stairs (a small plot of land that just has marble chips when the Houttuynia isn't up during the year), and the width of a concrete path separates the area from where we have the regular green Houttuynia. There, it resides under some large evergreen shrubs that are between a concrete patio and a neighbor's garage.

The concrete boundary of the path herds in the Chameleon from spreading, and the regular version is held back by concrete, a chain link fence, and the evergreens --- in all these years it hasn't spread farther than the base of one shrub, thought we have 3 large evergreens. I think the dried needles at the base may be a limiting factor in its spread.

I didn't even know it was invasive until I came across this website. I think it might have a lot to do with location. As an island borough of New York City, I suppose I get a good balance of relative dryness and coldness. It's really only in the last year that I noticed some growth of the green Houttuynia starting on the other side of the fence, but it seems to be generally taken care of by the frequent mowing that goes on there.

Basically, I think the thing to keep in mind is NOT to plant this in a garden bed, and in as small an area as possible (I think 3-5 feet wide is about ideal, since that's what I have under control). No open areas. Just a spot where nothing else seems to be able to live.

I also didn't know this plant I've lived with for 22 years is edible until I surfed the 'net tonight. I can't wait to share some with my foodie friends to see if/how they like it.

Positive jenjen12 On Aug 11, 2010, jenjen12 from Toledo, OH wrote:

I had a slope where nothing would grow...I planted this and its gorgeous!!! I love it, grows in awful soil, dry spells and winter doesnt kill it....great ground cover..

Negative PasadenaGardener On Jun 13, 2010, PasadenaGardener from Pasadena, MD wrote:

This plant smells terrible! Even pulling out one little sprig releases a strong, lingering odor, and it makes gardening a chore rather than a pleasure. I avoid a large section of my garden just so I don't have to step on the leaves and release the stench. I made the mistake one morning of pulling out some overgrowth without gloves; my hands reeked the rest of the day. Now that I know the leaves can be either green or colorful, I realize another section of my garden has this noxious weed. I will be taking some drastic measures to get rid of this plant before I have to avoid the entire garden for fear of being overwhelmed with the stench. I am amazed people continue planting this weed after reading how offensive the smell is to so many others.

Neutral OLPamPam On Jun 12, 2010, OLPamPam from North Bay
Canada wrote:

I asked a lady who knows a lot about perennials and she said that planting this plant in a pot and then planting the pot in the ground should keep this plant in check.

Negative chameleon335 On May 29, 2010, chameleon335 from Asheville, NC wrote:

Ditto to all negative comments. We had a landscaper create a garden in our backyard in 2000, which included Chameleon. It stayed a pretty tiny plant for about 6-years, probably due to the long drought here, despite my watering. My Sedum autumn joy nearly ran it over. Two years ago it woke up and began to multiply; I noticed that a small percentage of it was losing its multiple colors and was a boring green. This past winter we had more snow that we've had in years (western NC). This summer, this plant has invaded every single perennial in my flower bed. And I never saw a bloom on it until this year.
I've had to dig up the other plants to pull out the Chameleon. I try to dig roots - I get about 8 or 10 inches into the soil and then the root breaks off; I haven't reached the base of these roots yet!
I was disgusted with it before I read all these comments, now I'm really concerned hearing that round up doesn't touch it.
Based on my experience, I'm guessing the gardens where it's stayed contained must have a fairly dry soil.

Neutral cam2 On May 22, 2010, cam2 from Houston, TX wrote:

I bought this plant a few years ago, and because of it's potential to be invasive, I left it in it's nursery pot. It really never did anything and I thought I had lost it this past Winter, however, it came back this Spring and is more beautiful than ever. It was growing out of it's pot, so I have put it in a hanging basket. So far so good...

Negative Brenda_KC On Apr 29, 2010, Brenda_KC from Riverside, MO wrote:

I did not purchase this plant and yet it's taking over my garden. It rode in on some lillies that my sister gave me from her garden. In the future, if anyone gives me starts from their gardens, I will wash the roots thoroughly after this experience. Three years ago, there were just a few plants, and after digging up roots for hours on end and spraying multiple times last fall and this spring, they're still racing out everywhere. It's horrid and smells awful when dug up or even touched. It should be illegal to sell this plant! From what others have posted, it appears that I'll have to clear everything out to get rid of it.

Negative jzonhill On Apr 21, 2010, jzonhill from Batavia, IL wrote:

I bought about a dozen of these plants 5 or 6 years ago to plant along the edge of a large raised bed along the back of our house. I did not research the plant ahead of time! It did nothing the first year and I saw no sign of it for the next two years. It then reappeared in a few areas, but mostly along our foundation, about 6 feet from where I planted it. That was probably 2 years ago, and now it is taking over my entire bed. I brushed Roundup on the leaves when they first appeared this year and I am about to apply a second treatment. Digging in the bed yesterday I have discovered that the entire area is full of the white smelly roots, even where the plant is not seen. They have also sprouted up on the other side of the 18" brick wall that edges the bed. Ughh!

Neutral hoogie On Mar 20, 2010, hoogie from Rock Hill, SC wrote:

I do not have personal experience with this plant, but was going to buy some until I read these posts. THANK YOU everyone for sparing me the grief of this plant. This website is the best I have ever found, and the feedback from people who know each plant has been invaluable!!!

Negative nanajoana On Mar 8, 2010, nanajoana from Hollywood, MD wrote:

Original owners planted this in a very shady area enclosed by concrete pathway. I THOUGHT is was pretty! Nothing else can grow there it overpowers everything. It goes under the concrete and invades all the other areas. I have spent three years trying to get rid of it. Herbicides, which I don't like to use, digging the roots out at least thirty inches down. Leaving the area fallow for a year and killing anything that sprouts. I would never plant it and if you do you have been forewarned.

Negative bonehead On Nov 28, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I rarely give a plant a negative rating. I don't find this plant unduly invasive, but I do find it's odor very unpleasant. The foliage is pretty, but for me it is a bit scrappy until about mid summer. I put some in a pot in a small pond and the goldfish ate it all. I do like the name (I call it hootenanny). Probably will yard it out next season.

Negative aebloom On Jul 13, 2009, aebloom from Potomac, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

This may be the worst plant I've ever had. The first year, it was so pretty, delicately variegated shades of green, pink and white. Second year, it was a nice size, about 6" high. Third year it went nuts. It expanded from its 36" x 12" original planting area to cover about THIRTY SQUARE FEET!!! And now it is TWO FEET HIGH!!! It has choked my beautiful heucheras, my lamb's ears, practically killed my creeping jenny, and it smells awful! Do not use this plant, unless you want to cover a huge area -- it is totally invasive! (I live in Maryland.)

Negative ktellef On Jun 30, 2009, ktellef from Crete, IL wrote:


For anyone who says the plant is contained so far, my question is: How long ago did you plant it? It took about 5 or 6 years of looking like the plants were never going to multiply, to totally taking over my garden. They are as tall as my coneflower, and 2 years of Roundup and digging up roots with my trowell has made no dent whatsoever. It just keeps coming.

So last week I took out the big shovel and dug about 1/8 of my garden up. The roots weren't deep, probably no more than 6 inches. But I couldn't believe how many roots there were. It was massive. Recently Roundup-d plants showed that it killed the root about one inch down, then it was perfectly healthy. I put all the dirt on a tarp in a place with no sun, no rain. I intend to leave the dirt there until next year. I don't trust that little bits of those awful roots in the dirt wouldn't still be alive, but I don't know where to dump the dirt. I feel like it would be bio-terrorism to put that dirt somewhere. I filled 2 5-gallon buckets with just the roots. With glee, I filled with water and bleach.

I had to dig up half my coneflowers (the chameleon roots had entwined in the coneflower roots) and some snow on the mountain. Now the spot in the garden looks clean and I'll monitor so that I can dig up whatever comes up. Might not even plant at all next year to give it one more year.

Simply amazing that this plant can be so destructive and pervasive. It should be illegal to sell .... Sigh....

AN UPDATE: A couple months later and my irradication is showing results. Every couple days I check for the top of a leaf coming through. I carefully start digging around it to see where the root goes, and it always ends where I had previously dug it out but had apparently still left some root in the ground. It seems to grow if even 1/2" of chopped-off root is still buried. First couple weeks I had tons of new growth. Now, hardly any new growth at all. I had to dig up some of my good plants, pull the chameleon roots out from underneath, then replant the good plant, and they have all survived. I'll probably wait until mid-next-year before I plant over the area. But so far I am so excited!

Neutral smramsey On Jun 26, 2009, smramsey from Anniston, AL wrote:

Moved to this house in October last year - large bed of Hisbiscus with Chameleon underneath coming up now. Chameleon will be confined in this bed. Another small area which I can confine with a rose bush - will it hurt the growth/return of the hibiscus and roses ?

Negative colman242003 On Jun 18, 2009, colman242003 from Hilliard, OH wrote:

Finally got this plant IDed on this site! Not listed in any of my plant encyclopedias. This has existed in our front landscape for 15+ years, planted by my mom (thanks mom). Needed info to kill these things. We had professional landscaping done in winter months a few years back and this plant is virtually choking out the new plants. I do not have the energy to keep picking it. This is a south-facing area. Surprised to learn it is water-loving. Would not suggest for anyone, at least in this area. The scent is disgusting, in my opinion.

Neutral antsinmypants On May 7, 2009, antsinmypants from Marietta, MS (Zone 7b) wrote:

I planted this plant in the shade under a tree 7 years ago. It had all the beautiful colors when I planted it. It is in the same 2 square foot area as when I planted it, so I haven't found it to be invasive for me. My only complaint is that it does not have any of the pink colors anymore.

Neutral stormyla On Apr 6, 2009, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I planted 8 of these in dry shade underneath a large Conifer 3 years ago. 3 of them survived the first winter. They put up 1 or 2 small spindly leaves each. The following year, only 2 returned in pretty much the same sad state. Last year, I ripped them out, and they were no bigger than when planted!!
Guess I got lucky!!!

Neutral BLOSSOMBUDDY On Jan 31, 2009, BLOSSOMBUDDY from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I planted this plant on a raised bed near our water ditch.. It did nothing. I would try it again.

Neutral Jan65 On Sep 4, 2008, Jan65 from Milltown, WI wrote:

I just purchased this plant at a large sale. Planted it in my shade garden. After reading all the comments on it, I think I will move it under my big maple tree before it takes hold. It sounds worse than "Snow on the Mountain." I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Neutral purple7 On Jul 27, 2008, purple7 from Camden, ME wrote:

It is used medicinally in Chinese medicine, see Dr Zhang. The Houttuynia pills he sells are expensive! I should grow it in a pot indoors and figure out the dosage.

Negative clayandrocks9 On Jul 26, 2008, clayandrocks9 from Bristow, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love all plants but this one is the only exception. I planted it seven years ago and the first year it was well behaved. The second year it spread like crazy. The third year it is everywhere. I have a 24" walkway and it has spread under it to the other side. I have never seen such an invasive plant as this one. I have completely dug up the bed it was in and sifted thru the soil to get all the root to get rid of it. The roots are easy to see, they are thick fleshy and white and of course have that strong citrus like odor. Even then it came back in the spring. I have since been pulling it out every time I see it. It even grows faster and spreads more than crab grass.

It grows in full sun to the darkest shade. I does grow faster in moist soil but will even spread in dry conditions. Maybe it would not survire in a desert. Nothing seems to stop this plant once it takes hold. I also have some bamboo and it is not as invasive as the Chameleon.

Positive robcorreia On Jul 18, 2008, robcorreia from San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I think this plant gets unfair treatment! It is well behaved in my garden. I really lights up shady corners with its nice variegation. Not that hard at all to keep under control!

Negative stormiegrrl On Jun 12, 2008, stormiegrrl from Troy, IL wrote:

The previous owner planted this in a small flower bed at the entrance to my house. When we first moved in I thought it was pretty and I liked it until I started pulling it out because I realized it was not intended to fill that bed and was choking out some plants underneath it. Now it has been a daily ritual for the last 2 years for me to check and remove any that I see popping up.

There's not much I can warn you about that hasn't already been said here, but I would like to strongly note that if you plant this in what you perceive to be a contained bed, think twice before you do as it has sent out runners all the way under my sidewalk and popped up on the other side as well as trying to grow in the crack between my concrete patio and the side if the house. I also have a concrete basket sitting up on some pavers...NO soil under it but the chameleon plant grows under the basket as well.

I personally like the smell of this but my husband can't stand it.

Negative dedwar6613 On Jun 3, 2008, dedwar6613 from Lexington, KY wrote:

This plant is so invasive!!! I planted this in my flower bed because I thought it was so pretty. It has sent roots into my grass (through the stone borders). I am trying to kill it as it has invaded my next door neighbors yard too! I dug out all that I could until I reached the underground phone and cable lines. 2 applications of Round up has not fazed it!!!

Negative WNYwillieB On May 28, 2008, WNYwillieB from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love the way this looks, en masse, in the garden, however, that is NOT how I intended this to be. It has completely over taken the garden bed (north side of house, western edge) killing even the bulbs that were established there. Seems to have not spread beyond (or through) the Goat's Beard.

Again, the foliage looks awesome .... but ..... be forewarned!!! I wish I had been.

Negative wyldeflwr On Apr 12, 2008, wyldeflwr from Laurel, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

How I wish I had read about this plant prior to putting it in my garden. I thought it was such a beauty, all the different colors and the pretty white flowers. I would never recommend this plant to anyone. I have tried for years to dig it all out. It has spread underground all around my small pond and tries to crowd out anything else that attempts to grow. It stinks to high heaven when it is "bothered" and just keeps going and going. Buyer beware.

Negative lilmac442 On Dec 23, 2007, lilmac442 from Millington, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I am so glad I ran across this! I was quite taken by its beauty, but after reading all the problems caused by its invasive spread, I am glad I have not purchased any. I spent a year trying to eradicate just one small patch of Japanese Knotweed last year. (With no success, I might add). And would have been hear broken to have started an equally rotten plant bully in my new home. thanks to all for the heads up!

Negative coffeyclatch On Nov 19, 2007, coffeyclatch from Dillwyn, VA wrote:

NEVER plant this plant. It is perniciously invasive. The odor is so bad that when you hand weed, you have to take a break to let the odor dissipate. I have used weed killer and repeated pulling -- but I still have some surviving. NEVER plant this!

Positive mbhoakct76 On Oct 1, 2007, mbhoakct76 from Winsted, CT wrote:

I am surprised to see all the negs on this plant. I have cameleons under a row of pine trees as a ground cover, they spread quickly and filled the bare area, even with minimal sun i get a good show of red tipped leaves - i love the color.
Like i said they are quick growing so these probley wouldnt be a good plant for a garden area, but they do make a great ground cover, in the right spot it can be a nice touch of color.

Neutral cactusman102 On Aug 15, 2007, cactusman102 from Lawrence, KS wrote:

This Invasive plant DOES have a place in the garden: use only in completely surrounded concrete poor drainage groundcover areas. If combined with other plants, make sure they are least 3'tall and let the houttuynia fill in beneath. This plant will loose variegation over time and revert to green. To clarify "smell concerns"; Leaves smell somewhat like a citrus but can be overpowering in hot humid weather. The leaves are edible. Do not plant anywhere it has open ground with other similar sized plants. Roundup is 100% effective in 2 treatments if a professional does it at the right time of year. 6" deep loop of seemless edging will also contain this plant.
Most plants have a place in the garden , even invasive ones if used in the correct spot.

Negative pirl On Jul 1, 2007, pirl from (Arlene) Southold, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I agree with every negative statement made by others about this horribly invasive plant. It's beautiful in coloring but endlessly invasive spreading into lawns and paths with carefree abandon.

Even using my new weed torch doesn't stop it. When fire doesn't kill it you know it's persistent.

If anyone wants to know how to kill it please contact me. After 7 long years of battling it...I won the war over the last 9 months.

Negative RainGardner On Jun 22, 2007, RainGardner from Grand Rapids, MI wrote:

TOTALLY invasive! I've tried everything everyone else has tried to get rid of it. At first it was beautiful and I recieved many compliments on it. THEN IT TOOK OVER. It was coming up in the middle of my yugo pines and dwarfing it, then it moved on to my hostas and coral bells. It killed off a number of dwarf roses and a dwarf spruce. It was planted 10 years ago, yes I confess I did it. I've been trying for two years to get rid of it. It's just going to take time and patience!

Negative dayflower On Jun 20, 2007, dayflower from Gonzales, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I to have this plant and hate it, bought it unknowingly, thought it was pretty, I've been usiing Eliminator weed and grass killer, super concentrate on it and it seems to be working. As you have read this thing spreads like crazy...but did you know it is eatable! I fixed a tray of it and took it to a garden sale we had for our club and a Vietnamese lady was glad to find it she said they ate it in salads! Don't know if they cook it or not like spinach...might be good, ....may be a way to get rid of it eat it ....Ha.

Negative eruoff On Jun 10, 2007, eruoff from Ithaca, NY wrote:

We bought this plant at a nearby garden center, unwittingly.

I want to erradicate it completely. Roundup doesn't seem to work. I have had some luck with salt. Spray the leaves with Pam first so the salt will stick. Keep at it. Maybe when the plants are weakened by the salt Roundup will finish them off. What a mistake to buy these plants. How were we to know?.

I have a hosta garden of about 300 varied plants. I don't want this plant to invade these gardens.

Neutral MLMyers On Jun 8, 2007, MLMyers from Rogers, AR wrote:

I hate a love/hate relationship with this plant. I like it "in-bounds" and love it's brief, tiny white blooms. It makes an attractive patch under my tree. Dry shade, no less! Shows how hardy it is! I have had the best result eradicating it in unwanted areas by clipping the stem and applying stump or brush killer, full-strength. (I use a 1/2" foam brush to paint the end of the stems.) Time consuming, to say the least. But it works....

Positive cachecreek On Jun 7, 2007, cachecreek from Davis, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Neutral so far in terms of growing it. But overwhelmingly positive as an edible plant. This is grown in southeast Asia as a veggie/herb, and it smells and tastes more like cilantro than orangepeel. I can't get enought of it. Curries and similar food glow when you include it. However, I believe in a moist part of the country I would plant it in a pot or other restrained area; here in the hot central valley in CA, I'll put it in the ground. Heavenly fragrance.

Neutral renasdesk On Apr 24, 2007, renasdesk from Palo Alto, CA wrote:

I just planted this in a difficult part of my garden (SF Bay area). We have dense clay in this area where there is only morning sun, mulch and poor drainage. Since this plant is for "boggy" conditions, I am thrilled that something could actually succeed in this corner. The postings make me wonder if I should repot the plant before putting it underground, but I'm going to take my chances. Your feedback is a terrific resource.

Negative honeybunch On Apr 18, 2007, honeybunch from stokes bay, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

Althought this is a pretty plant with its variegated leaves and almost insignificant white flowers, I find it extremely invasive and am glad that it is in a contained area of my property.

I am in zone 5a in Ontario, Canada and the freezing cold has no effect on it at all. It is extremely hardy and vigorous.

When I have given plants to those that want it, I dig it up to get some of the roots (which seem to go down to China !!!). You will want to wear gloves to do this or else wash your hands very vigorously with soap and water to remove the stink ! When any part of the plant is broken or cut, the smell is horrendous, in my opinion !

Negative mcgerm On Apr 11, 2007, mcgerm from Galesburg, MI wrote:

EVIL PLANT. Previous owner planted it. When I moved in it was a continuous ring around the house. Dug and dug to get rid of it the first fall in the house. Keep round-up mixed at 4x strength and hit the beds around the house weekly to shoot any pop ups. The ONLY plant that has out competed it has been Nasturtiums.

When I wrote this I was in PA, now I am in MI. I have been helping a few neighbors get rid of it for the last two years. It is just as EVIL in MI as it was in PA despite the harsher winters. We at least got the local garden center that sold it to them to vow to never carry it again.

Negative NacMacFeegle On Apr 5, 2007, NacMacFeegle from Springfield, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I am renting a home from a vietnamese family who had planted this the year before I moved in over a quarter of the front flower bed. The mother told me when I moved in "this is an herb we use to cook with in my country but you may not like it so you can weed it if you want". The leaves smelled kind of citrusy- not too bad. However, when it took over the entire bed by the end of that summer, I started weeding it. The ROOTS smelled like ROTTING FISH and I got nauseous just handling the stuff. By that August I had enough of trying to weed it and getting sick from it.

To kill it: I used ORTHO'S GROUNDCLEAR COMPLETE VEGETATION KILLER CONCENTRATE. And no, I didn't dilute it and it was 90% effective against the chameleon plant. The next spring I just weeded the roots of whatever did come up and by mid-summer all that was left in the bed was volunteer white clover. I planted a bunch of bulbs in fall and the next spring had the bed back. 2 years to get rid of this stuff!

DO NOT PLANT IT if you value your native habitat plants. It is an introduced plant that is highly invasive. Forget "weed", this is a terminator.

"The Environment Bay of Plenty (2003) reports that "H. cordata's rampant growth can rapidly displace native plants in forest and wetland ecosystems." "This plant is only found in gardens so far, but is believed to present a huge risk to the native habitats. Any sightings of this plant should be reported to local authorities" (National Pest Plant Accord, 2001). Hynes (2003, personal communication) reports that, "Not only is H. cordata able to seed parthenogenetically (in the absence of male plants), but also every segment of it roots readily and grows effortlessly."

Neutral WUVIE On Mar 23, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The word SMELL was mentioned at least fifteen times in the previous posts, so I guess I'm in for a rude awakening.

I did plant Houttuynia last summer, though I was disappointed in it. It did nothing. A couple little leaves sat there. This spring is another story. It is coming up where I did not plant it, quite far from the original plant. It is growing overnight, my gosh!

I'm not one to call a plant invasive, but this one looks like it's gonna be close. We'll what the coming months bring and I'll check in again.

Negative soulgardenlove On Jan 1, 2007, soulgardenlove from Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I found this naughty baby on the orphan table at a GA Round Up and I'm so glad I looked it up before I planted it. According to TV and radio Garden personality Walter Reeves, he now regards this plant as "Satans favorite groundcover".. so take heed and be advised against putting this in the garden.. I also wonder how long some folks here grew it before rating it positively. While it is attractive, if you must have it, keep it in a pot.
Walter went on to say, "The chameleon plant became so pestiferous that I had to dig up all the daylilies and wash the soil from their roots so I could identify and cast out the Houttuynia roots. I put the daylilies in a different spot, then had the pleasure of spraying Roundup on the chameleon plant in the original bed. It took me a year of spraying, but the bad plant is finally banished."

Neutral Sashagirl On Nov 3, 2006, Sashagirl from Davenport, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I was aware of this plants propencity to spread, when I bought it, 8 years ago, but also knew it was much more prolific in ideal moist)conditions, so I planted it at the furthest property line from the house in a "self-sustained" wildflower/shrub bed.
The only water it got was from Mother Nature, and it was only minimally invasive. I did have to pull some of it up occassionally, but not a real problem.
I loved the color, as well as the fragrance. About the fourth year, it was picking up speed, and spreading quite readily; but thankfully, after a 2 year draught, it pretty much just faded away-with my blessings.
I enjoyed it, but will definitely not replant.

Negative Snowrose On Nov 2, 2006, Snowrose from Frederick, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

Yes, it can be attractive....BUT....very difficult to eradicate even with Roundup. Took 2-3 years before I was successful. Definitely a noxious, invasive plant and should be avoided like the plague.

Negative greenobsessed On Sep 12, 2006, greenobsessed from Champaign, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

EVIL!!!!!*&#@&% plant!!! , i planted it in a bed 3 years ago and ripped it out that year and ive been spraying it with round up every week for 2 years and it still comes back between sprayings!

Negative handhelpers On Aug 17, 2006, handhelpers from Coopersburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

i don't mind some invasive plants [ones that are easily moved], but this one is one of the worst. if you leave even a tiny bit of root in the ground, a new plant will grow. they are terribly smelly as well. vendors should have a 'beware' listed with this one.

Negative jabe1 On Aug 10, 2006, jabe1 from Cleveland, OH wrote:

I recently purchased my home, and the previous owner had this horrible thing planted in the best flower garden area of the yard. I wish I had killed it off in the spring while conditioning the soil. Even the smallest piece of root will sprout.I've tried roundup, vinegar, salt. I think I will have to dispose of abot 2 cubic yards of soil to get it out, I only hope to save my dyanthus.DON'T PLANT THIS IF YOU ENJOY VARIETY IN YOUR GARDEN!!!

Negative GoGardenGrow On Aug 5, 2006, GoGardenGrow from Gurnee, IL wrote:

You already know this will take over your yard. I planted three plants 2 years ago. I am in the process of removing it ( not to mention digging up desirable plants in the process) by digging up an area 15 feet by 6 feet to a depth of 18 inches or more to get at the deep roots. DO NOT PLANT THIS. If you own this plant already DO NOT SHARE plugs with anyone. You will cause misery! See all others' comments. Not to mention losing the aesthetic balance of a manicured, varied perennial bed.
Not sure from what part of the world this is native, but it has no natural competitor to keep it in check here in Illinois. Even the rabbits don't touch it. The soil appears not to have many insects or earthworms where it once was a thriving habitat under the mulch.
I will try adding lime to the soil and raise the Ph a bit to make it a bit more uncomfortable for spreading!

Neutral CactusPete777 On Jul 25, 2006, CactusPete777 from Hamburg, NY wrote:

I just purchased 6 of these plants today, and put them in an eclectic setting, which after reading other's comments may dig out tomorrow before they start running! However, at $3.49 per plant, I have decided to try another location. I live in a village and there is green grass between the sidewalk and street. I was thinking that perhaps that might be a good place let this proverbial invasive runner loose? Any thoughts on that? It would seemingly be contained between the sidewalk and the street?

Negative Acorns On Jul 15, 2006, Acorns from Easton, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Stay away from Houttuynia Cordata! I planted two plants several years ago, near my pond. They were slow to prgress but then became a horror. This plant takes over and I am now on my 14th year of battling to remove them. Roundup takes care of it for the season - but since it is so invasive this is a tedious process in order to protect other plants. This is also one of the worst smelling plants when pulled from the ground. If anyone has found a way to remove forever I would love to know it.

Neutral beefykeefy On Jul 14, 2006, beefykeefy from Nottingham
United Kingdom wrote:

Although I understand this plant could be invasive, I have not seen much evidence in my garden for this in the last few years. It has put out runners and grown a few inches away from the main plant. I shall certainly be looking to check it's growth though if it becomes more invasive. It dies back in the winter and comes back very well each spring. Can revert to green/yellow leaves but I just cut these out and this year (2006) it has grown well and compact with lots of white flowers.

Negative bybar On Jul 13, 2006, bybar from Springfield, MO wrote:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your comments! I bought this plant from a nursery about 10 days ago and brought it home and promptly planted it in my flower garden. After reading your comments, I immediately went out and moved it out of the garden to the other side of our three acres under a tree! It had already started runners. Phew! Close call........

Neutral murphyc On Jul 4, 2006, murphyc from Colgate, WI wrote:

My mom has this gremlin growing in a bed next to her house...just add water, it multiplies. Like crazy. She doesn't seem to mind its invasive nature, not sure why. It's growing in between the roots of her yucca. I thought these plants were beautiful so I dug up about a dozen of her shoots, thought it would be good as groundcover in a segragated bed between the woods & my driveway under trees. When I was digging the shoots, I noticed the SMELL. whew. I told Mom and after reading some of the comments by others, I just wonder if the smell from these buggers are contributing to her migraines.

So I planted the shoots yesterday but I'm 2nd-guessing and wonder if I should go dig them up quick before they plant their seed and I can't control them.

Negative cpman On Jun 28, 2006, cpman from Metuchen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is very, very invasive. The former owner of my house planted it here and now it is spreadin into our lawn and taking over my hostas and day lilys.. when you break the stem the smell is horrible and gives me a headache.

Positive WillowWasp On Jun 26, 2006, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I loved this plant and I don't know what happened to it but it died. I thought the colors of it were just beautiful and had it was beautiful in my goldfish pond for quite awhile. I will replace it as soon as I can.

Neutral LadyCleo On Jun 22, 2006, LadyCleo from Plainfield, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

I rescued a 4' pot of this beautiful plant from the garbage can at the garden center I work at late last July. It was dried up and nearly dead. I planted it at the rock edge of a mixed full sun perenial bed where I hoped it would fill in between the rocks and provide a ground cover under the lilac and red twig dogwood. It neglected it and it promplty appeared to dieout totally. Oh well, no loss I thought. This spring, 7 small plants emerged. I had since read about the bad behavior of this plant and dug it out deeply and thoroughly. I replanted it on a far edge of my property next to the woods, an empty lot and along a drainage ditch which is constantly boggy. Every single tiny piece of root and leaf has since sprung into a pretty plant. The smell of working briefly with even a small amount of the plant did bloom into a nasty headache. Hopefully, it will fill in this wet, weedy area with attractive vegetation without becoming an unwelcome resident in my gardens. The only thing growing near it is a brutally effective hedge of firethorn which I adore, but seldom get close to. Maybe the deer will avoid this entrance to my land with the combination of nasty thorns on the hedge and the noxious smell of the chameleon plant. Time will tell.

Neutral pegdog On Jun 16, 2006, pegdog from Winchester, VA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Yes, it is invasive. ONLY plant it where you don't care what lives nearby. It's worse than ivy; however, if you like or want a "colorful" ivy-ish plant that has a varietal season, plant this.

Negative Willow On Jun 1, 2006, Willow from Norwalk, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

You should only plant this flower in a container. You cannot get rid of this plant. It is pretty if you never want to plant anything else in the area. I planted it under a black walnut tree in my shade garden. It has taken over and I cannot get rid of it. I have not found anything that kills it including Round UP.

Neutral attorney2b On May 25, 2006, attorney2b from West Point, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I wish I'd read this before purchasing 30 plants for the shady side of my house!! LOL!! Now, I'm a little concerned. But, I'm hoping it'll work out. I really just wanted something low maintenace that will spread on it's own and keep me from having to mow so much and it sounds like this is the plant to do the job! I'll be sure to keep it away from my beds, though! Does anyone know if this plant climbs as well?

Negative mrsbrooks On May 18, 2006, mrsbrooks from Bowling Green, KY wrote:

The previous owners planted this around our house and I CANNOT get rid of it. It grew up though the landscape fabric and is absolutely the worst pest I have ever seen! The smell gives my husband a headache every time he tries to mow it down! DO NOT PLANT THIS STUFF outside of a container, it is so invasive!!!! I tried roundup and straight vinegar, neither remedy worked so if anyone knows anything that will get rid of it, please let me know.

Positive Leehallfae On May 11, 2006, Leehallfae from Seattle, WA wrote:

I love this plant. It is pretty and with that citrus aroma, it is very welcome in my Fragrant garden.

Positive WildMouse On May 10, 2006, WildMouse from Mooresville, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I just planted the Chameleon plant last fall so am still getting to know it but so far so good. My hilly yard is quite shaded and there was always a big bare "dust bowl" patch under the pines that seemed perfect for it. It has covered this area very nicely and already this year, the front yard looks much better than it did. It has spread a bit already but that's what I wanted it to do - trying to mow the patchy grass under the pines was impossible without spending an hour to pick up the cones first. If all goes well, it will thicken out nicely and I will never have to mow there again! My small property is edged by cement/pavement on 3 sides, with the house on the 4th side, so I am not too worried about the invasiveness of it. Since it has no berries for birds to spread, I doubt it will make its way to my neighbors yards any time soon. My only "complaint" is that so far it has no variegated color to it - just light green. I'm sure that's because the front yard is so shady and I guess that's okay, cos the area still looks better than it did without the groundcover there.

Positive zzazzq On Apr 26, 2006, zzazzq from Madison, MS wrote:

Conditional positive...would not place in a rich garden bed, but ok for a container and very attractive foliage. I have a couple planted in some solid clay soil in the shade, and it definitely is not taking over and spreading very little, but surviving OK.

Negative CaptMicha On Apr 25, 2006, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

After finding out that this plant is invasive, I pulled the lot of them out last year.

This year, they've multiplied!

I haven't had any problems as of yet with this plant crowding anything out but it's now unwelcome in my shade garden.

Besides the pretty pink and green contrasting leaves, I don't think this plant has much merit. There are plenty of natives or non-invasives with color that can work for people.

Editted: 7/6/06
I've changed my neutral to a negative. This plant is popping up everywhere. It's hard to get all the runners' roots, especially because it likes hiding under other plant's foliage.

It also STINKS!

Negative weedgrrl On Apr 21, 2006, weedgrrl from Yorktown Heights, NY wrote:

Bad bad bad bad. Worse than a houseguest who never leaves. The first year I tried to get rid of it, I pulled it out root by root, dug up the soil and sifted by hand. Last year I used Roundup multiple times. Whoever said this plant just laughs at Roundup is so right. Then, today, I found some starting to sprout. Unreal.

Positive srodarte On Apr 10, 2006, srodarte from Springfield, OH wrote:

I have had this plant growing in a pot on a rock shelf in the center of my small pond (wintered in the cellar) for several years. It isn't invasive in this situation and it's tri-colored leaves and small white flowers add beautiful color, so I will continue to use it in the pond. I *am* glad that I read about it's invasive qualities here, though, so I won't plant it where it can escape to other parts of the garden.

Neutral zone5girl On Mar 22, 2006, zone5girl from Painesville, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I didn't know what this was when I found a little volunteer in my garden last year. I thought it was pretty and was hoping it would grow more. However, it must not like my soil. It stayed the same size the whole summer! I guess that's preferable to having it take over! I do think this is a pretty plant, so if it comes back this year, I will dig it out and put it in a container.

Neutral DarwinESF On Jan 24, 2006, DarwinESF from Syracuse, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

For my zone and soil type (alkaline clay) this plant seems a fairly well behaved groundcover, I think I'd equate it with lily of the valley or sedum or ajuga.. I can't speak for other places but here at least I might say it's aggressive but I can't see calling it invasive since it hasn't been able to get out of the perennial bed it's in.. though I'm worried it is probably an invasive in warmer climates with better soils, from reading what other gardeners are writing. I'd say don't plant this plant if you aren't a gardener who enjoys regular weeding of plants to keep them in check.. if allowed this and other aggressive plants will will do exactly what they're supposed to do.. quickly fill any space they can in the garden. And.. uh.. if you happen to garden on some semi-wild land choosing a native groundcover will prevent this plant and others like it from invading native ecosystems. Whoops is that a soapbox? Calm down, I'm all done.

Negative Gabrielle On Jan 15, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

My neighbor tried this along our fenceline, and not only did it take over her bed, but mine. She had the advantage that it was in a narrow bed by a cement driveway, and her idea of beautiful "soil" is clay with every bit of organic matter meticulously picked out and just a few severely pruned plants. I, on the other hand, have turned my entire yard into a garden full of plants, and have worked hard to improve my soil, so it is all I can do just to keep ahead of this invasive plant. And did anyone mention the smell?! LOL After a nauseating evening of taking turns pulling it out with my Mom, we could still smell it on our hands AFTER OUR SHOWER!

Positive Cindermom On Dec 27, 2005, Cindermom from Bandon, OR (Zone 9a) wrote:

Love this for a spot of color in the bog garden but always keep it in a pot. With a bit of shelter in our climate it grows all year.

Positive BUFFY690 On Dec 18, 2005, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

These work really great in Upside Down Pots. They take a short time to get established but they eventually creep out of the top making for a great show over the entire pot. Also this helps with the invasive problems. One thing remember to water other wise it will get leggy and ugly starting from the bottom.
You can also keep controled around pond areas with a pot with in a pot ( i have a few living successfully this way), cover the unsightly pots with stone to make it more attractive
Very cool plant, The colors are fab and so is the smell. If you fear the invasion keep it in a pot and enjoy.

I had a really difficult area to keep anything living (it stayed wet and has problems with tree roots) this plant thrives and spreads slowly there.

Negative CastIronPlant22 On Dec 11, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Yes, this plant is invasive, but it seems to look better with lots of water. It also can be grown as a bog plant. It comes back every spring, after the frost. But mine has never looked good. I dont know why, it was always scraggly looking. So i took it out, but it does spread and i mean spreads FAST! Be careful. You Might just want to plant it in a container and have the container sit in water. More watter = better looking plant! It does have very pretty leaves. And they are scented!

Positive dweinhardt On Oct 31, 2005, dweinhardt from Hiram, OH wrote:

Although this can be rather invasive, it can cover a multitude of sins in any area where weeds grow more quickly than desirable plants. They provide a great varigated leaf, and mine range from pink on the edges through various shades of green to yellow in the centers. Tiny white flowers appear in the spring and they are practically maintenance free. In my opinion- and they have surrounded my other perenials, including my roses- the roots of the roses and all of the other plants are not affected by their presence because they do not go as deeply as do the other perenials. I see no problem with them. Lots of neighboors have requested plugs and they like them as well.

Neutral blackwalnut On Oct 16, 2005, blackwalnut from Landenberg, PA wrote:

I loved this plant until it took over a small garden in the front of the house. The houttuynia was planted as a groundcover under shrubs in the garden. As the shrubs had overgrown the area, they were removed but the schrubs had contained the houttuynia. We planned to replant after a roofing and construction project. In the past year the houttuynia are no longer a "nice ground cover". They have become a noxious invasive weed. I don't know what to do to rid the space of them. Any help would be appreciated. Would lime be useful- I have no problem finding very acid soil.

Negative aapplle On Aug 8, 2005, aapplle from Lemont, IL wrote:

Terribly invasive. I've tried pulling, yanking, vegetation killer...nothing has worked! The roots grew under the brick of my house so I don't think I'll ever get rid of it. It grows at various levels under the surface of the garden. Someone has to have a better solution as to ridding the garden of this plant!

Negative gardentraveler On Jun 18, 2005, gardentraveler from Columbus, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I've also found chameleon plant to be extremely invasive. I tried to get rid of it last year by spraying it with Roundup. The first application had no effect. The second one killed some of it. The most effective method I've found is just to keep pulling it up as it appears, with as much root as possible.

Update: I just received a message from a board member asking for a progress report. Even after the two applications of Roundup in 2005, I'm still seeing shoots come up periodically. I've been pulling up new plants whenever I see them and they are, at least, pretty limited in number.

In the meantime, I've talked to other gardening friends who have had similar experiences. They've all spent years trying to eradicate it.

It's apparently from east Asia and grows from Nepal to Thailand to Korea. It's in the Himalayan room of the local conservatory.

Negative stinkyflowers On Jun 2, 2005, stinkyflowers from Frankfort, IL wrote:

This plant is more invasive than Creeping Charlie. I plan on removing it this fall and hope someone can tell me the best way to eradicate it. It definitly spreads underground but I have yet to determine how deep in order to get it all out. If you have a big area to cover , and no close neighbors, it is definitly a fast growing ground cover!

Positive paste592 On May 11, 2005, paste592 from Westminster, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

Just take this plant for what it is -- a lovable thug! It is too beautiful to avoid completely.... just be sure to keep it dry, don't feed it, and when it starts to get invasive in spite of you, get out the propane weed torch. When I moved, I forgot to take some with me, because it was on a dry slope I forgot about, and I actually bought some! I'm letting the houttuynia and the aegopodium duke it out!

Neutral hanna1 On May 5, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I just bought it, it is quite beautiful, but from all notes above, I will keep it in a hanging pot!

Negative kywildcat On Jul 18, 2004, kywildcat from Ekron, KY wrote:

DO NOT start this plant in a flower bed!!! It will choke out any existing plant. And should you transplant something from a bed growing with this plant, watch VERY closely for tiny shoots and remove them. The tiniest piece of root from this plant will eventually take over. Does anyone know of a way to get rid of this stuff?

Negative Waljim15 On Jul 3, 2004, Waljim15 from Hamburg, NY wrote:

WAY too invasive..can't get rid of it. Noxious smell when working with it. Terrible skin reaction after trying to handle roots without gloves (anybody else experience this?) Pretty, but not worth the headache!

Negative wolfsight On Jun 27, 2004, wolfsight from Dumont, NJ wrote:

This plant is exremely invasive and difficult to remove. A special note: Both my wife and duaghter suffer from migraines, and both find the aroma from fresh cut chameleon plant as a trigger for migraines. If you suffer from migraines, do not plant this in your yard, or have someone else remove it for you.

Negative pat_h On Apr 26, 2004, pat_h from Duluth, GA wrote:

Horribly invasive. It comes up right through the middle of my hostas. I pulled shoots yesterday for over an hour and had to work very hard not to break stems of hosta. I would NEVER plant this again. The strong lemony smell becomes sickening as you try to pull shoots. Any tips for ridding of this plant that actually is crowding out giant hostas?

Positive htop On Aug 23, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
I put 6 of these plants in the quart-size pots in which they were purchased around a pistache tree next to my patio inbetween other large decorator containers with liriope planted in them. Then, I placed cypress bark mulch all the way to the lip of the container (I had placed edgers in the shape of on oval around the tree to hold the mulch). The decorator pots sit on bricks buried in the mulch. Why did I do this? The soil around the tree was full of roots and nothing would grow there without adding a lot of dirt. The chameleon plants need watered frequently during the middle and latter part of August, but I water the mulch which helps. I have an old small satellite dish attached to the tree about 6 feet from the ground which serves as a birdbath (I know, kinda strange, but it works great!). The birds splash water on the plants below which keeps them moist also. The chameleon plants have done very well in the filtered sunlight and are beautiful as the colors change on them. New plants sprang up in the mulch - some from seed and some from runners. The plants have not been hard to remove because they are growing in pure mulch. I was shocked that they would grow in mulch.

Thank you for noting that they are invasive. I did not know this and had not read this on any website listing that I checked before I "planted" them. Today, I was going to transplant some to a "real" flowerbed, but decided that I had better check out this database first. I am glad I did!! I will not place any of these in another spot. I love these plants and am disappointed that they are such pests. They are now prisoners in the "fake" flowerbed. Note: each pot when purchased cost $8.99 - too bad I can not spread them around to make them cost effective.

Positive Bricca On Jul 11, 2003, Bricca from Sugar Grove, NC wrote:

We LOVE this plant. I didn't know that it was a water-lover, and it's growing beautifully on our steep rocky hillside here in NC's northwestern Appalachians. I never water it - it just gets whatever rain comes along. It's quite hardy, even through our snowy & icey winters. I also have this in our perennial garden, and haven't found it to be a bit invasive, as opposed to what others have said. This plant looks lovely with our hosta, daylilies, astilbe, sedum, coneflowers, daisies, etc. If you like a plant with lots of color, hardy, takes care of itself, and reliable, you'll ADORE the chameleon plant!

Negative LisK On May 27, 2003, LisK wrote:

Warning: Do not plant Chameleon Plant in a perennial bed. It spreads through underground runners that wind their way through roots of your other plants. When you dig and divide your perennials and move divisions to other parts of your garden, you may unwittingly transport Chameleon Plant to another site. I bought this plant in the "groundcover" section of a local nursery and boy did it cover the ground. I've been trying to get rid of it for several years but, as another writer commented, you must get every root or the whole sad cycle begins again.
By the way, this plant laughs at Roundup. Any suggestions for getting rid of it permanently?

Positive bobknight On May 23, 2003, bobknight from New Bern, NC wrote:

I have this growing under a corkscrew willow. It is shaded. It has taken over, crowding out weeds. I have Dutch amaryllis planted in with it. It is closer to 18 inches tall, and does not have the variagated colors but is just green. The flowers are white amd 1.5 inches wide. A few leaves are variagated. I don't know if it has mutated to all green leaves or it is dependent upon exposure to sunlight. It is certainly a successful plant.

Negative Kelli On Apr 26, 2003, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I can barely keep this plant alive. The ones planted in the soil died. The one in the water garden struggles along. This does not appear to be a good plant for a dry climate with alkaline soil and alkaline tap water.

Neutral beckykay On Apr 26, 2003, beckykay from Godfrey, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

Its me Beckykay and I have had these plants and put them in a container, I was told they are invasive I did enjoy them in the conatiner to hang over the side and placed upright plants in the center. I don't think I well buy anymore because of the invasive attitude they have. Thx.

Negative akitakitty On Apr 26, 2003, akitakitty from Gonzales, LA wrote:


Neutral Robwits On Aug 7, 2002, Robwits from Dayton, NJ wrote:

Holy cow! This plant was invasive and difficult to control in my setting. It was recommended as a border plant but quickly spread throughout the area via underground runners. I removed it from my garden about 5 years ago but continue to get stray sprouts. The leaves and stems have a strong, citrus-like smell when crushed. The plant is attractive but needs a lot of room.

Neutral Joy On Oct 10, 2001, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This groundcover will also do well in containers.
Loves moisture but will adapt and behave less agressively in dryer soils. Also good for aquatic gardens.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (3 reports)
Anniston, Alabama
Daphne, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Blytheville, Arkansas
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Rogers, Arkansas
Carlsbad, California
Castro Valley, California
Davis, California
Hesperia, California
Knights Landing, California
Lompoc, California
Menlo Park, California
Merced, California
North Fork, California
Oakland, California
San Diego, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Rosa, California
Sebastopol, California
Amston, Connecticut
Essex, Connecticut
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Winsted, Connecticut
Woodstock, Connecticut
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Maitland, Florida
Decatur, Georgia
Duluth, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Mcdonough, Georgia
Batavia, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Crete, Illinois
Frankfort, Illinois
Gurnee, Illinois
Hinsdale, Illinois
Jacksonville, Illinois
Lemont, Illinois
Marion, Illinois
Mount Vernon, Illinois
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Palmyra, Illinois
Troy, Illinois
Virden, Illinois
Mooresville, Indiana
Lawrence, Kansas
Olathe, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Ekron, Kentucky
Ewing, Kentucky
Frankfort, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Bastrop, Louisiana
Deridder, Louisiana
Gonzales, Louisiana
Skowhegan, Maine
Bel Air, Maryland
Brookeville, Maryland
Compton, Maryland
Crofton, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Easton, Maryland
Hollywood, Maryland
Pasadena, Maryland
Potomac, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Belleville, Michigan
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Farmington, Michigan
Garden City, Michigan
Howell, Michigan
Midland, Michigan
Muskegon, Michigan
West Olive, Michigan
Marietta, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Joplin, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Springfield, Missouri
Omaha, Nebraska
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Hainesport, New Jersey
Metuchen, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Plainfield, New Jersey
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Buffalo, New York
Croton On Hudson, New York
Greene, New York
Hamburg, New York
Hilton, New York
Rochester, New York
Southold, New York
Staten Island, New York
Boone, North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
New Bern, North Carolina
Oxford, North Carolina
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Defiance, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Holland, Ohio
Maumee, Ohio
Norwalk, Ohio
Salem, Ohio
Springfield, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Ardmore, Oklahoma
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Schulter, Oklahoma
Yukon, Oklahoma
Wiarton, Ontario
Bandon, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Warren, Pennsylvania
Watsontown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Ladys Island, South Carolina
Laurens, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Chuckey, Tennessee
Clarksville, Tennessee
Culleoka, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Toone, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Brazoria, Texas
Carthage, Texas
Crockett, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Houston, Texas
Madisonville, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Bristow, Virginia
Coeburn, Virginia
Springfield, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia
Winchester, Virginia
Wytheville, Virginia
Anacortes, Washington
Artondale, Washington
Bellevue, Washington
Bremerton, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Longview, Washington
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)
Stanwood, Washington
Tacoma, Washington
Colgate, Wisconsin
Racine, Wisconsin
Twin Lakes, Wisconsin (2 reports)

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