Lespedeza thunbergii
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:
We offer an un-named selection of L. thunbergii that we received many years ago from the Morton Arboretum, west of Chicago in Lisle, IL. They have had it in their collection for well over 50 years. Compared to other selections, it offers superior hardiness and incredible flower production. The flower color is a glowing magenta. Our original plant is pictured top right. This is a plant that literally stops visitors in their tracks in our display gardens.


Ornamental Characteristics:
Blue-green tri-foliate leaves. 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.
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.
Awards: Award of Garden Merit, Royal Horticultural Society