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Old August 10th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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Chameleon Plant

Help! I planted one of these last year in my sunny garden (zone 5) & now have scores of them, and can't seem to get rid of them. Can you please tell me how to eradicate them? They now cover a 4x8' space in my otherwise lovely garden. Thanks, Cathy
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Old August 16th, 2005, 08:20 PM
Candy Candy is offline
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Location: Burnaby, B.C. Zone 7ish
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Re: Chameleon Plant

I Googled the Chameleon plant and it looks like it's extremely hard to get rid of. You have to dig it out and every last bit of root. Not an easy job. I'd give more detail, but have to run out now and dig out the plant I put in my garden last week.
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Old August 17th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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jimmyq jimmyq is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

houtuynia cordata (sorry it isnt the right spelling I know but it is close) is a strong growing perennial groundcover well suited to damp conditions. personally the smell of the foliage makes me gag. very strong citrus-ish smell. tough to eradicate. remove all roots etc or try a commercial spray with glyphosate.
Paul Buikema, CLP - Retail, I.S.A. Certified Arborist. Certified Tree Risk Assessor, 2003 BCLNA Young Member of the Year, 2010 BCLNA Member of the Year, BC Arborist Technician Supervision & Sign Off Authority
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Old August 17th, 2005, 05:57 PM
Ralph Walton Ralph Walton is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Actually, if you are going to use glyphosate (Roundup), spray first, leave it a minimum of 4 days, then dig it out. This gives the glyphosate time to translocate to the roots where it will remain with any root fragments you miss and make their survival and re-sprouting much less likely.

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Old August 17th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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jimmyq jimmyq is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

good point Ralph
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Old September 18th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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Re: Chameleon Plant

I am soooooo glad I read this post, yesterday I planted a 'free gift' plant, and looked it up today to make sure if it would do well in my perennial bed.. after reading how invasive it is, I just went out and dug it out and tossed it behind the shed. If it dies, so be it, if it takes off.. who cares its behind the shed.

Thanks to all who posted their horror stories
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Old May 16th, 2006, 08:15 PM
judesgarden judesgarden is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

I just planted this in our garden 3 weeks ago... I was looking for colour and variety in foilage but now I read this is not good - especially being an invasive plant - thanks HomeDepot.
I've dealt with goutweed and bamboo - is this another plant I should remove to another location. We have a lot of property - would it work around pine trees without killing them etc. I would be most appreciative for any info on this plant plus any other plantings around trees on our property that would beautify the gardens be are trying to procur for not only beauty and simplisity but for our own journey in the gardening world of the living.

Please email me at with any info or help = before it's to LATE...

Thanks from Ontario Zone 4/6
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Old May 16th, 2006, 11:00 PM
Newt Newt is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Hi Judy,

Sorry about the Houttuynia cordata - chameleon plant. You will find the goutweed was easier to get rid of! I'd say dig it out and trash it.

Consider looking at some books on woodland gardens. Many woodland plants are ephemeral while some have lovely leaves that will give you color throughout the summer.

I'm confused with your hardiness zone notation. How can you be in zones 4 and 6 at the same time? Maybe a hardiness zone map will help.

Do check the hardiness zones of these plants.

Heuchera - coral bells, a clump forming native, comes in an array of colorful leaves for color all season long. One of my favorite combos of these would be a group of Heuchera 'Lime Rickey' with Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' in front of them.

Tiarella - foam flower, another clump forming native, comes with pretty colored leaves. This first one is called Tiarella 'Neon Lights'. The third pic is a grouping of the plain green leaves, but would look lovely with something in front or behind with colored leaves.

Corydalis - comes in different colored flowers, seeds around the garden, is easy to pull out and will appear in wonderful spots all by itself.

Tricyrtis - toad lily has dainty flowers and blooms in fall. Place near the front of a border or the edge of a path so they can be seen. Best to plant at least 5 together for better impact.

Asarum - woodland ginger has lovely heart shaped leaves either green or variegated. Makes a good groundcover in shady places. Native and non-natives.

There's all kinds of ferns. Some may stay evergreen for you.

A mix of Japanese painted ferns, sedge (the grassy looking stuff), maidenhair fern in the back and a Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' on the right.

More mix with a Heuchera in bloom, a green hosta and astilbe on the extreme left with the small leaves and a plume from an astilbe on the extreme right.

My astilbe wants more sun and blooms better with at least 4 hours of sun.

Bergenia is evergreen for me but don't like the soil too rich. I love the glossy large leaves.

Ligularia - many different varieties and different cultivars. They wilt midday but perk back up in the evening. They like it shady and a bit moist. Ligularia 'the rocket' is quite a statement when it blooms and they get large. Ligularia dentata has flowers that look like black eyed susans.

Bleeding heart in pink or white. My old fashioned ones bloom for a long time in a moist spot and form a lovely clump. In a dry spot they go dormant mid summer. They look nice with larger leaved hostas. There is a new smaller one called fern-leaf bleeding heart. The entire plant is smaller and blooms on and off all summer.

Helleborus - Lenten rose in many colors and should be evergreen.

Pulmonaria - Lungwort is another shade lover with incredible variegation. Many cultivars, some better at resisting powdery mildew then others. The flowers change from pink to blue as they age in the spring. I have 'Mrs Moon' and it's more mildew resistant and an old cultivar.

Solomon's seal will form a lovely clump. There's an all green native - False Solomon's seal and a Japanese variegated one that's a true Solomon's seal. Mine are mixed with hostas and ferns. Watch the berries on these if you have small kids.

Phlox divaricata - Woodland phlox is a native groundcover with different colored flowers. The most common is blue. Spreads without being invasive and likes rich soil. Nice with ferns growing through it. This is not the tall fragrant phlox.

Mitchella repens - Partridgeberry A slow grower that forms a small mat of evergreen foliage. Height 2-4 in. Pink-white flowers in June with red berries that last into winter. Prefers moist soil.

Iris cristata - Dwarf Crested Iris creates a nice ground cover when grown in a mass. Easy to grow. Height: 6-8 in. Blue-violet flowers in May. A nice contrast to broad leaved plants. Grows best in fertile, well-drained soil with a few hours of sun.

Epimediums aren't evergreen in your zone. Several colors and leaf shapes. Just in case you can't pick just one...

or you could look at these 5 pages!

Lamium takes dry shade, but be careful with these as they can spread out of hand. If you choose one and it says 'vigorous' you'll be pulling it out of your lawn as well as pulling your hair out.

Ideas for mixing plants under trees.

Mostly hostas and ferns

Mostly hostas with epimedium in the front.

When my pond is finished I'm going to plant Hakonechloa so it cascades over the rocks. This looks great at the front of a bed. Comes in different shades of variegation. Looks great with solid green hostas, purple leaved plants (Ligularia) or large ferns behind it.

Some nice combos.

You can click your way through these plants and research them at www.google.com Best to use the botanical names. Also click on 'Images' at google to get more pics.

If you decide to mailorder hold on to this site to check references and search for highly rated nurseries near you. You can search by country and then by plant material.

Ok, I've now eaten too many cookies and drank too much milk and don't know if I can go to sleep. Don't stay up all night reading this!
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 11:17 AM
oscar oscar is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Newt, i think you broke the record for the most comprehensive post on a forum ever :D
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Old May 17th, 2006, 11:44 AM
Newt Newt is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Oscar, can you tell I love woodland plants? I had to edit that post about 5 times as I was over the word limit. I don't even talk that much! ;)

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Old July 2nd, 2006, 09:54 PM
Bandit Bandit is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Hope i dont sound dumb here.. but you said you put this in your SUNNY garden.. i thought Chameleon Plant was shade only. i have tried to put this on the edge of my fish pond which is full sun and i can not get it to live.. .. did i misunderstand..or will it live in sun?????
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 10:38 PM
Newt Newt is offline
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Re: Chameleon Plant

Hi Bandit,

You don't sound dumb. Any question is a good question. Houttuynia cordata - chameleon plant can take full to part sun. BE WARNED - once you plant this you will probably never get rid of it. Your neighbor will have it and your neighbor's neighbor eventually! If it's not surviving for you be VERY grateful.

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Old July 14th, 2010, 10:10 AM
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wcutler wcutler is offline
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Shade plants, was Re: Chameleon Plant

This thread contains a posting with a great list of shade plants, or shade-loving plants for woodland gardens, but they work for shady areas on a balcony or deck as well. I'm just trying to pack in a few terms that would bring up this thread on a search. It's too bad such useful information is in a thread with the title "Chameleon Plant", which is NOT a great plant for anywhere (though it will grow anywhere).
Wendy Cutler, Cherry Scout
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (vcbf.ca)
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