Lespedeza thunbergii / Bush Clover

Lespedeza, bush clover, GibralterI first eyed Lespedeza at the beach, where a whole border of it — in full bloom — stopped me in my tracks. It took months to find out the name of the plant but it was worth it. What you see here in the most popular variety, called ‘Gibralter.’ The photo below shows an older, larger example.


  • Likes full sun.
  • To 5′ tall and almost 8′ wide — all in one season (it dies back to the ground every winter).
  • Blooms in September and October.
  • Tolerant of poor soils.


  • Quite drought-tolerant
  • Experts warn us not to give this plant “too much fertility” — which I interpret to mean it shouldn’t be fed at all.
  • After all the aboveground growth dies in winter just cut the stems off completely; it’ll all grow back the following spring. (So you see this “shrub” is really a large herbaceous perennial.)
  • A landscaper once told me to decide where this plant should go and then leave it alone forever — it’s that hard to move. I did as I was told.