How to Grow Lespedeza Thunbergii - Plant Care & Tips

By NorwichGardener Team   /   2024

Lespedeza thunbergii is a small to medium-sized, herbaceous legume of the pea family, native to eastern Asia. It was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant in the late 1800s, and is now naturalized in many parts of the United States and Canada. The species is named for the Japanese botanist, doctor, and physician Thunberg. Lespedeza thunbergii is a perennial plant that typically grows to 1-2 m (3-6 ft) tall. The leaves are trifoliate, with three ovate-lanceolate leaflets 2-7 cm (0.8-2.8 in) long and 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in) wide. The flowers are small and white, borne in dense, cylindrical spikes 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long. The fruit is a small, black, winged legume. Lespedeza thunbergii is commonly known as bush clover, Korean bush clover, or Thunberg's bush clover. It is a popular plant in gardens and is used as an ornamental in parks and public spaces. The species has also been used in traditional medicine and as a food source.

How to Grow Lespedeza Thunbergii - Plant Care & Tips

Also known as

  • Japanese bush clover
  • Carpetweed
  • prostrate knotweed
  • prostrate smartweed
  • foxtail smartweed

Common Knowledge

  • Lespedeza thunbergii, also known as bush clover or Japanese clover, is a leguminous perennial plant native to East Asia.
  • The plant is named after French botanist André Lespedeza, who first described it in 182
  • L. thunbergii is a small shrub or herbaceous plant that typically reaches 30–100 cm in height.
  • The leaves are trifoliate, with each leaflet ovate to lanceolate in shape and 2–5 cm long.
  • The flowers are small and reddish-purple, borne in loose racemes.
  • The fruit is a small, brownish pod 2–4 cm long, containing two to four seeds.
  • L. thunbergii is found in open habitats such as forest edges, fields, and roadsides.
  • It is a popular ornamental plant, and has been introduced to North America, Europe, and other regions outside of its native range.
  • The plant is considered to be invasive in some areas, such as New Zealand.
  • L. thunbergii has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, and is considered to have various medicinal properties.

How to Grow

  1. For lespedeza thunbergii, first step is to find the right spot in your yard. It prefers full sun to partial shade, and well-drained soil.
  2. Once you have found the perfect spot, dig a hole that is twice the size of the lespedeza thunbergii’s root ball.
  3. After you have dug the hole, mix some compost into the hole.
  4. Place the lespedeza thunbergii in the hole, making sure that the roots are not tangled.
  5. Start filling in the hole with soil, tamping it down as you go.
  6. Once the hole is filled, water the lespedeza thunbergii deeply.
  7. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, but keep it away from the stem.
  8. Lespedeza thunbergii does not need to be fertilized, but you can if you would like.
  9. This plant is drought tolerant, but it will do best if you water it weekly during the first growing season.
  10. Once established, lespedeza thunbergii does not need to be watered as much.

The Soil

About soil condition, Lespedeza thunbergii grows in various soil types, such as sandy, loamy, and even clay soils. It can tolerate drought and poor drainage. The plant is also salt-tolerant, making it ideal for use in roadside plantings and other salty areas.

About light

Just like other lespedeza species, lespedeza thunbergii requires full sun to grow and thrive. Without ample sunlight, this plant will become leggy and produce fewer flowers. If you live in an area with hot summers, some afternoon shade may be beneficial to prevent the foliage from scorching.

The Temperature

The temperature condition lespedeza thunbergii can survive in is between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. This plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil but can tolerate some shade. It is drought tolerant but will flower and produce more seed if given occasional water during dry periods. Lespedeza thunbergii is a hardy plant that is adaptable to a variety of growing conditions.

Ideal Humidity

Ideal humidity condition for this plant is around 60%-70%. The plant does not tolerate extremely high or low humidity. If the humidity is too low, the plant will suffer from dry leaves and flower buds. If the humidity is too high, the plant will be susceptible to fungal diseases.


About fertilizer, this plant prefers high nitrogen levels, so use a fertilizer with a high first number. For example, use a 10-10-10 fertilizer. You can apply the fertilizer either in the spring or in the summer. This plant also does well in clay soils because its roots can penetrate the clay and break it up.

Light requirement

Pruning is an important part of caring for your lespedeza thunbergii. Pruning helps to encourage new growth and keep the plant healthy. When pruning, be sure to remove any dead or diseased branches. It is also important to prune during the plant's dormant period, typically in late winter or early spring.

Plant Propagation

Propagation of lespedeza thunbergii is typically done through seed. The seeds should be stratified in order to germinate. Once germinated, the seedlings can be transplanted into their permanent location. Lespedeza thunbergii can also be propagated through stem cuttings. The stem cuttings should be taken from new growth and should be rooted in a moist medium.

Growth Rate

Usually, the plant growth rate studies have been conducted in the lab under ideal conditions. In nature, the plant typically grows much slower. In a study performed in Illinois, the average lespedeza thunbergii plant growth rate was found to be just 0.47 inches per year. However, the plant can grow much faster in some conditions. For example, if the plant gets extra nitrogen, it can grow up to 2.36 inches per year.

Basic Problems

Common problems for this kind of plant are that the plant is susceptible to cold weather damage and that the leaves can be scorched by direct sunlight. Lespedeza thunbergii is also susceptible to a variety of diseases, including powdery mildew, rust, and leaf spot. Insects, such as aphids and Japanese beetles, can also be problematic for lespedeza thunbergii.

List to Know

  • Do not forget to water your lespedeza thunbergii plant regularly. This will help to keep the plant healthy and hydrated.
  • Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help to keep the soil moist and also prevent weed growth.
  • Fertilize the lespedeza thunbergii plant once every two weeks. This will help the plant to grow healthy and strong.
  • Prune the plant regularly. This will help to keep the plant looking neat and tidy.
  • Place the lespedeza thunbergii plant in an area where it will receive full sun. This will help the plant to grow and thrive.
  • Keep the area around the lespedeza thunbergii plant clean and free of debris. This will help to prevent the spread of diseases and pests.
  • Inspect the plant regularly for signs of pests or diseases. If you

Similar Plants

  • Lespedeza bicolor is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to China.
  • Lespedeza capitata is a herbaceous plant native to North America.
  • Lespedeza cyrtobotrya is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to China.
  • Lespedeza dahurica is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Siberia and northern China.
  • Lespedeza florida is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to China.
  • Lespedeza integrifolia is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to China.
  • Lespedeza juncea is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to China.

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Reviewed & Published by Richelle
Submitted by our contributor
Herbs Category