Chameleon Plant

Chameleon Plant Overview

Description Chameleon plant is a perennial vine that provides instant garden color in the form of dark blue-green leaves splashed with cream, pink, and red. (Inconspicuous flower spikes appear in mid- to-late spring.) It's primarily grown as a ground cover in areas that range from moist to wet. For the backyard gardener, this plant is best suited for container gardens because it spreads invasively if not kept in check.
Genus Name Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'
Common Name Chameleon Plant
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 6 inches
Flower Color White
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Chameleon Plant Care Must-Knows

Chameleon plant grows best in moist, humusy soil and full sun or part shade. (But note the brightly variegated leaves develop better color when grown in full sun.) It readily tolerates 2 or more inches of standing water, which makes it a great plant for growing along a stream or pond, or in a water garden.

No matter where you site chameleon plant, it's essential to confine this rampant grower that spreads via rhizomes. For in-ground planting, site it where structures such as sidewalks or buildings can restrict growth. Or, put the plant in a soil-filled container without drainage holes. Sink the container into the ground, leaving the lip of the pot 2 inches above the soil line. You can also place the container in a pond or stream, situating it so the rim is just below the water surface. For ultimate peace of mind, restrict chameleon plant to a container garden.

Get the container gardening design basics here.

Planting Companions

Plant this vine with other moisture-loving perennials to get a colorful display that delights the eye from spring through fall. Canna, which produces large gladiolus-type flowers, thrives in full sun and moist (not wet) soil. Choose a dwarf variety of canna such as 'Tropical Breeze' or 'Tropical Rose (they grow just 18 to 30 inches tall) to use with chameleon plant in a container garden. Or choose elephant ear, a water-loving plant that grows well in part shade and moist soil. Pair pollinator-favorite bee balm with chameleon plant in the perennial garden.

Try growing chameleon plant on this vine trellis.

Plant Chameleon Plant With:

Japanese Primrose Primula japonica

Take a walk down the primrose path and you'll never look back! Primroses are a classic cottage flower and are popular with collectors. They covet the hundreds of different primroses available, especially some of the tiny rare alpine types.Many are staples of cottage gardens and rock gardens, while others provide spring color to damp places, rain gardens, and bog gardens. Their basal rosettes of oval leaves are often puckered or are very smooth. The colorful flowers may be borne singly or rise in tiered clusters, or even spikes. Provide humus-high soil that retains moisture and some shade for best results.


Colorful lobelias are a wonderful choice for landscaping around ponds and streams -- anywhere the soil is consistently moist. In fact, lobelia even loves downright wet conditions, making it a top choice for bog gardens. Perennial type of lobelia (not to be confused with the low-growing, often blue annual types) are magnets for hummingbirds, so they're great for wildlife gardens. The foliage is a handsome rich green to sometimes dark reddish-purple. The plant produces striking spikes of flowers in all shades of red, pink, blue, and white. Lobelia needs humus-rich soil. Mulch with a biodegradable material, such as wood bark or chopped leaves, to add humus to the soil.

Garden Plans For Chameleon Plant

Island Bed 2
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