By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Chameleon plant is very pretty with its lavender tinged heart-shaped leaves and easy-going nature. But it is this nature that becomes the problem. Once they get going, there is very little that can stop the plants. Find out how to control chameleon plants in this article.
Back in the good old days, dinosaurs might have enjoyed munching on the primitive paleoherb form of the variegated Houttuynia cordata. Today, the Houttuynia cordata “Chameleon,” commonly called the chameleon herb or plant, is still a favorite worldwide.
Native to Southeast Asia, southern China, Japan and Korea, this herbaceous perennial now boasts unique common names in more than 21 languages including Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, French, German, Russian, Swedish, Hungarian, English and more. A member of the Asteraceae family, the genus Houttuynia was named in honor of M. Houttuyn (1720-1798), an 18th-century Dutch physician and botanist. The species name cordata comes from the Latin for heart-shaped and refers to the shape of the leaves.
In the garden the chameleon plant offers showy accents of texture and form. Similar in shape to English ivy, it boasts those heart-shaped leaves beautifully splashed with green, red, cream and yellow variegations that have a citrus scent when crushed. The vibrancy of the foliage colors depends on the availability of sunlight. More sunlight brings brighter colors. Small white blooms develop during the summer. Container plantings are frequently used to accent boggy areas or water gardens. Within the garden, elevated accent planters, window boxes and hanging baskets are ideal.
With virtually no disease or pest problems the chameleon is a hardy plant. It will grow in most soils, in full sun or partial shade, requires average moisture and can grow in wet or boggy conditions. Each plant will grow to about 12 inches high with a spread of more than three feet.
However, this plant can grow rapidly and can become vigorous, aggressive or even invasive. The chameleon spreads by using its fleshy rhizomes as runners. If plants are massed together as a semi-evergreen ground cover, the root zone area should be restricted to prevent the overrunning of the garden.
Abundant water can promote rampant spreading. Hot, dry sites have helped to restrict growth. Potted plantings with minimal drainage holes tend to curb invasive habits. In ponds, try growing the chameleon in deep, bottomless containers.
But even with its drawbacks, the spectacular show of color of the chameleon makes this plant still very much desired. In spring, just lift and divide some of those pesky underground rhizomes. Then you can have more another spectacular color-changing chameleon plant for your garden.
Not only is the chameleon beautiful, it is also useful. For centuries, it has been a part of traditional Chinese and herbal medicine, and it continues as a culinary staple. Its Chinese name translates as “fish-stinking herb” while its Vietnamese name translates as “lettuce (smelling like) fish.” Its flavors have been described to range from cilantro and coriander to lemon, orange and ginger. Its leaves are used in salads and as herbs, while its aromatic rhizomes are eaten as root vegetables.
SOURCE: Joyce Dean, a member of the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society
Maybe the title is a little too strong and should be “nine plants that some gardeners hate” while others think they are useful in the right place. Mind you I have to confess that number one on the list Pampas Grass is my pet hate plant. While it can be spectacular when in full bloom, for me there is nothing worse than the bedraggled specimen it turns into come the winter rains. This interesting article is by Andy McIndoe and comes from the Learning With Experts website.
It is interesting that gardeners seem to hate plants that succeed too easily. Even if they are good, reliable ornamentals, the fact that they thrive in spite of us is seen as a drawback. We also think we should dislike plants that are considered old-fashioned. The pampas grass may be a child of the ?70s but it certainly has a long season of interest! We love the idea of groundcover plants that smother bare soil and overcome the need to weed, but we hate anything that seeds and spreads. What we most desire is what we really shouldn?t grow: things like meconopsis and gentians, or rhododendrons when we garden on shallow chalk.
Lady?s mantle, Alchemilla mollis is a great example of an excellent garden plant that gardeners complain about. Sure, it seeds and spreads. Mainly because we let it. If we cut it back as soon as the flowers start to fade it can be kept in check, but we forget and consequently seedlings emerge anywhere they can avoid disturbance. Planted under the hedge or under mature shrubs or trees alchemilla can survive where lesser plants wither and perish. Make the most of it.
The looks of the fleabane, Erigeron karvinskianus belie its tough resilience. With similar habits to alchemilla it is altogether lighter and more delicate in habit. The tiny pink and white delicate flowers cannot fail to charm, as much as we complain about its invasive tendencies. In a previous post I recommended this as plant that survives dry shade. I stand by that from experience, despite the fact it is usually grown in sunny, dry conditions.
Top of the garden enemies has to be ivy. Seen as a thug that strangles trees its qualities are overlooked. Shade tolerant, evergreen, versatile either as self-clinging climber or the perfect groundcover it has a lot to offer. Not least of all a valuable source of nectar and pollen and berries as food for birds. The large-leaved hederas are particularly good as ground cover under trees. Their leaves are reflective and lighten shade. Some complain that it can take over my advice is don?t let it, control it.
I am a keen gardener and so created Garden Pics and Tips for people who love gardens and enjoy great pictures of plants and gardens. Also covered are practical tips on all aspects of gardening.
The deliciously fragrant, sunny blooms of Erysimum x allionii (AKA Cheiranthus x allionii) continue deeper into the summer than other Erysimum. A good clipping after bloom and dry toes in winter are all it takes to bring out the best in Erysimum.
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