Houttuynia cordata

Height: 30-45cm

Water depth: 2.5-5cm (1-2in)

Features: foliage, flowers summer

Soil: moist

Site: partial shade

Type: marginal

Houttuynia cordata is a hardy herbaceous perennial which thrives in moist soil or shallow water. Un-like most aquatics, it benefits from dappled shade. It spreads rapidly by underground stems, and can be invasive.

The upright, bright red stems bear pointed, heart-shaped leaves. These are strongly aromatic when bruised, and have a blue-green, rather metallic appearance, sometimes suffused with red.

In summer, small spikes of white flowers appear, each with tour white bracts. Popular varieties include “Plena’, with double flowers, and ‘Variegata with brilliant red, green and gold leaves, but tew (lowers.


Plant in spring or autumn in moist soil or shallow water to a depth of 5cm (2in). Dappled shade is beneficial. Plant dormant rhizomes horizontally, 7.5cm (3in) deep, and container-grown plants at pot depth.

Propagation: Divide rhizomes into pieces, each with a growing point or developed shoot, during early to mid spring. Pot in John Innes potting compost No 2 and grow on until well roofed, then transplant to the growing position.

Pests and diseases: Trouble tree.

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