Guttuinia or Houttuinia: tips for keeping and breeding

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Guttuinia or Houttuinia: tips for keeping and breeding
Guttuinia or Houttuinia: tips for keeping and breeding

General description of hauttuinia, history of the origin of the name, agricultural techniques during cultivation, reproduction of guttuinia with their own hands, interesting facts about "fishmint". Houttuynia (Houttuynia) or as it is also customary to call this plant Guttuinia belongs to a monotypic genus of flora representatives that are included in the Saururaceae family. Sometimes it bears synonymous names - Saurourovye or Zaururovye. This family consists of flowering plants with a herbaceous form of growth and they are referred to the order of the Pepper-flowers (Piperales). The family includes 4 genera and 6 varieties. The specimens of the green world that are part of the family can be considered their native growing areas, stretching from Southeast Asia to its eastern borders. From the Japanese archipelago itself to the Himalayas, as well as the island territories of Ryukyu, Taiwan and Java. There is evidence that the same plants can be found in regions of North America. This species was limited to only one single representative - Houttuynia cordata.

This "green inhabitant" of the planet got its name thanks to the scientist from Holland, botanist Martin Houttein (1720-1798). This prominent scientist was engaged not only in the study of the plant world, he was also a doctor and zoologist. His father Frans Houttaine served as a publisher. Martin, in turn, studied medicine within the walls of Leiden University, and then in 1749 he was awarded a Ph. D. for his work Dissertatio Spasmologica, Spasmorum Theoriam exihibens.

So, hauttuinia is a flora specimen, which is, as already mentioned, a herbaceous perennial. Its root system consists of thin root processes, very much like thin cords. They are located in the surface layer of the soil, practically in a horizontal plane. It is thanks to its rhizomes that guttuinia grows well, taking over more and more territories, since it has the ability to take root in the nodes. From these whitish rhizomes, numerous low-rise stems originate, which have a reddish tint. They can grow both erect and weakly wriggle. The surface of the stems is furrowed, glabrous. Their height can vary in the range of 30-40 cm.

The leaf plates are very densely arranged in a regular sequence, in their outlines and size they strongly resemble linden leaves, simple, whole. Their shape at the base is deep-cored, and the entire surface of the leaf is broadly ovate, and can also acquire ovate-lanceolate or triangular-ovoid outlines. The apex has a sharpening. The color of the foliage appearance is very diverse - greenish, sandy or multi-colored. It is because of her that the plant attracts attention, since the central part of the plate can be shaded in bright green, then, closer to the edge, a sandy or beige shade appears, and a pink rim flaunts along the very edge of the leaf. There are varieties that are devoid of light tones, and there only green and red colors float very decoratively, replace each other.

The leaves are attached with petioles to the stems, the length of the petioles is shorter than the leaves, the surface is covered with grooves, they are solid, oblong, obtuse.

When blooming, medium-sized flower buds bloom. They are not as pretty as the leaves, but they are still attractive. Flowers can take simple or double forms. Sometimes they remind us of the calla lilies we know, only of miniature size, the diameter when the flower opens up reaches only 3 cm. Usually the corolla consists of 4-5 petals, which have a white-cream or snow-white shade. The perianth is absent. Flowers appear bisexual.

In the very center of the bud, beautifully framed by petals, a short inflorescence rises, which in its outlines reminds some of a mini-ear. Its length is measured only 10-30 mm. This formation consists of small flowers, painted in yellowish tones, it is the only one and takes a spike-like or racemose shape. The ovary is in a corolla with one nest; the stamens have anthers, which tend to open in the longitudinal plane. The buds already begin to appear from May-June, but the most abundant flowering period occurs in the second half of summer, and it usually lasts quite a long time.

After flowering, the fruit ripens in the form of a box, it is distinguished by rounded outlines, fleshy, with numerous seeds inside. The seeds are round. The plant can perfectly winter in the climatic conditions of the middle zone. For its growth in the wild, it can choose weedy and humid places, you can often find this variegated beauty in the Caucasus region on the Black Sea coast. Guttuinia is still a rare guest in our gardens and apartments, but it is so interesting that it is gradually winning the hearts of amateur flower growers and phytodesigners. Of the varieties that are already known in our territories and are considered the best, we can note:

  • Tricolor or Chameleon with leaves that look like traffic lights - red-yellow-green colors are included there. Throughout the summer, the plant pleases the eye with variegated foliage.
  • "Captivity" (Plena) the shade of the leaves is deep green, but the flower buds have a double shape.
  • "Variegata" - this variety is distinguished by smooth transitions of shades on the leaf plates, there are pink, cream and green tones here.

Interesting facts about hautunia

Houttuynia in the open field
Houttuynia in the open field

If you press a little on a leaf of hauttuinia, a person with a good scent can catch the smell - some "fishy odor", probably this property was used for the nickname of the plant, for example, among the Vietnamese "fishmint" or "grass with the smell of fish", as it is called in the Celestial Empire. The most unflattering reviews say that the smell is comparable to the smell of "unwashed dog".

Due to the unusual color of the leaves, guttuinia in the territory of an old woman in England is nicknamed "the tail of a lizard" or "chameleon grass".

When the plant begins to bloom, this period is suitable for harvesting the grass. It is known that essential oils are present in it, from which methylnonyl ketone, myrcein, as well as carpic acid and quercitrin with potassium chloride (there are up to 2, 7%) are isolated, this also includes potassium sulfate.

The subsoil material is used to create folk remedies that help with inflammatory processes and have a diuretic effect. If you make a decoction based on hauttuinia herb, you can get rid of abscesses, and this remedy is also used to wash skin injuries, itching and abscesses.

Often, folk healers use tinctures based on this plant for lung abscess and coughing, when it is difficult to sputum with it, if there are acute or chronic bronchitis or infectious diseases that occur in the genitourinary tract. Preparations prepared on guttuinia help with pain and cramps, during urination, when dark and hot urine leaves. Also, the use of the plant helps to neutralize toxins and heavy metals, helps cleanse the blood and eliminate inflammation, can counteract heatstroke, insect bites, relieves swelling and indigestion, and eliminates weakness. If there are problems in the form of hemorrhoids, then drugs that include hauttuynia will help to eliminate them.

In China and Japan, "fishmint" is valued by the locals not only as an ornamental plant, but also as a vegetable crop. Its aerial part (greens) and root crops are used. The leaf plates are used as a lettuce, serving as a side dish in fish dishes, as the scent of the foliage of guttunia is already similar to it. If we talk about the adaptability of this plant, then it should be mentioned that in China and many other countries where rice is cultivated, it is considered an intractable weed of rice paddies - these are areas of arable land where rice or similar crops are grown, such areas are usually fenced with ramparts to retain water and are accordingly flooded with it.

Oddly enough, but in European countries, "ripple mint" is ranked among the aquarium plants.

Planting and care recommendations for hauttuinia

Hauttuinia stems
Hauttuinia stems
  1. Choosing a meta to grow. Since in natural conditions the plant is still considered a coastal water plant, it is customary to plant it next to water bodies, but it is also recommended to equip guttunia in rock gardens or in garden beds. It has been observed that swampy varieties, in which leaf plates have a green tint of foliage, are more tenacious. The place where you will attach the "variegated beauty" should be well lit by the sun's rays, then you can admire the decorative coloring of its foliage. However, if there is no choice and some partial shade will be observed, then this will not bring inconvenience to the "fishmint" and will not be too reflected in the color of its foliage (it will simply become more green and dull) or the density of the stems. However, it should be remembered that direct sunlight can cause leaf burns, it is better when the lighting is diffused and soft. With the arrival of the spring-summer period, you can move the plant into a reservoir, and with the onset of autumn, try to remove the hauttuinia in a frost-free place in dry conditions. You can shelter for the winter, if the bush is not transferred from open ground, agrofibre is used. When "fishmint" is grown in a container, then east or west windows will do, in the southern location you will have to arrange shading.
  2. Temperature when keeping the plant. It is important to remember that this is still a thermophilic representative of the flora. Although there is evidence that it can withstand frost rates of -18 degrees. But in practice, many gardeners note that the plant calmly experiences a greater decrease in the thermometer, moreover, in snowless winters. But if we take into account that such cold weather comes at a time when there is a stable snow cover, then the complete freezing of "fishmint" does not threaten. The fact that it is thermophilic is evidenced by its late appearance on the soil surface. This time falls in the first half of June, especially if the winter was severe enough. But after almost a month, guttuinia reaches its normal development and begins to bloom. For indoor cultivation, it is necessary to maintain heat indices in the spring-summer period at the level of 18–20 degrees, and in winter, reducing to 9–13 degrees.
  3. Watering the hauttuinia. A plant can feel good even without water, but with one condition that it grows in a moisture-consuming and permeable substrate. Otherwise, a well-moistened soil is needed.
  4. Fertilizers for guttunia. When applying top dressing, you should not use formulations with a high nitrogen content, as this can negatively affect the leaf plates and the rhizome. With prolonged use of such drugs, the plant can be affected by putrefactive processes. "Fishmint" responds well to extracts from wood ash, it is recommended to use them after 3 weeks from the shoots of variegated grass. If the "chameleon grass" grows in a container and is systematically transplanted in the spring months, then it does not need feeding.
  5. Plants are neighbors. It is best to plant hauttuynia next to tall representatives of the flora, such as cereals, reeds, or sedge. It is with such plantings that the motley painted leaves of "fishmint" will look more impressive. It is only important to make sure that this creeping grass "knows its place", since, rooting in the nodes, it will capture all large territories on your personal plot. Since the plant is an excellent ground cover, it must be placed in the appropriate places, against the background of the green shades of other plants - for example, next to a juniper. You can also perfectly arrange trunks at the foot of a rose grown in the form of a standard tree or next to a lilac or caragana. Thus, guttuinia forms a picturesque "rug" that sets off other plantings, since it looks harmoniously with shades of purple and red, in contrast, combining with yellow petals.
  6. Humidity increased air is required when growing the "lizard's tail", such conditions will help maintain a constantly moist compost.
  7. Soil selection and replanting. This "fishmint" will feel good on a mixture of loam and peat soil (parts are the same). In this case, watering is carried out as for any garden plant. Guttunia is planted to a depth of no more than 7-10 cm, if possible, in a pond or swamp, and you can also allocate a place for it in an alpine slide (in this case, a successful wintering may be). Even when grown in a reservoir, "fishmint" is not planted directly into the ground, but a container is used so that the plant is not dug out for the winter period, but simply moved to a cold place (cellar), or it will have to be dug into the soil and thoroughly mulched.

Houttuinia breeding tips

Guttunia leaves
Guttunia leaves

You can get a new variegated beauty using cuttings or dividing the rhizome.

The division operation is carried out in the spring or at the very beginning of summer, so that the hauttuyniya can get stronger by the winter time. If propagation is carried out by cuttings, then the plants planted in a pot can be left for the winter indoors by placing a container with guttuinia on a windowsill or in a cool greenhouse.

When planting in open ground, "fishmint" is limited to the growing area so that the culture does not occupy large areas on its own. To do this, plastic or iron strips are dug in along the perimeter where the "chameleon grass" is planted, to a depth of no more than 35 cm.

When dividing the rhizome, the plant needs to be dug. To do this, carefully along the perimeter, the hauttuynia is cut from the common rhizome with a sharpened shovel. Then this part is pryed on one side and removed from the ground. You will need to free the root system from the soil. Next, you need to separate the necessary part of the plant and form the bushes of the required volume. Subsequent disembarkation is carried out at a prepared place. As a restraint, some gardeners use an old plastic bucket with holes in the bottom. Landing is carried out to a depth of 10 cm.

Difficulties in growing guttunia

Fish mint
Fish mint

When cultivating "chameleon grass" there are no big problems, the main thing is that the conditions of keeping this variegated beauty are not violated. If the plant is planted in a bright sunny place, then being in direct sunlight, the leaf plates can get sunburn, whitish spots appear on the surface of the leaves and the color fades. Subsequently, the hauttuyniya will dry out if nothing is done. Naturally, it is better to determine the planting site immediately with an openwork shadow under the crowns of trees. If your plant has begun to grow strongly, then most likely you have overfed it with fertilizers.

More details about hauttuinia in this video:

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