Lespedeza thunbergii 'Spilt Milk'
Bush Clover
 
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Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Native Habitat: China, Japan

General Lespedeza thunbergii info:
Here in Zone 5, there is probably not a better plant for fall interest than Lespedeza thunbergii. It really has it all: ease of culture, adaptability, no insect or disease problems, wonderful form, and loads and loads of fabulous flowers. Every autumn it amazes us how few Lespedezas we see in midwest landscapes. We think this is truly a "must have" plant.

First and foremost is its incredible display of flowers that begins in late summer and reaches its peak in September. The pea-like flowers are borne on 6" long racemes on the upper portions of nearly every shoot. The racemes combine to form flower panicles that can reach up to 2 ft. long.

The unique form of this Bush Clover displays the flowers to their very best effect. As the flowers develop, the flowering stems become so heavy they droop to create a lovely fountain-like form with the tips some stems touching the ground. When sited near water the effect can be breath-taking.

Treat it as a die-back shrub in Zones 5 and 6. It will die-back close to the ground most winters. Cut the stems back to a few inches high in the spring and it will quickly regrow to 4 or 5 ft. by late June.

This variety:
'Spilt Milk' is an astounding selection with bold variegation and glowing magenta flowers. Whereas other selections of Thunberg's Bush Clover offer interest primarily in late summer and fall, this is one that gives a fabulous display of foliage all season as well as the usual floral fireworks in the fall.

 

Ornamental Characteristics:
Blue-green tri-foliate leaves. Foliage heavily variegated with splashes and streaks of white. Electric, glowing magenta flowers beginning in late summer and reaching their peak in September.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Arching, fountain-like shrub growing 4 or 5 ft. high and wide. Fast growth rate. Very long lived.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, masses, specimen.
Hardiness: Zone (4) 5 to 9.
Culture:
Easily grown in full sun or light shade. Well drained soils are best. Does well even in dry infertile soils. Will die back to the ground most winters. Prune back to a few inches high and will quickly re-grow in spring.