Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print
schoolhouse_gw

Bush Clover

15 years ago

I'm going to do it, dig the old phlox bed up and give the plants hopefully a happier life somewhere else on the property. Today, I saw a Bush Clover and knew it was THE one to replace the phlox. Someone else mentioned this shrub one time but not sure if it was on the perennial or shrub forum.

The one I picked out was the best height-wise and shape, but on the verge of being severely pot bound; so it's a little weepy. The nursery gave it a good long drink earlier before I brought it home and then another when I went to pick it up just now. It's covered in bud and is blooming some.

Hopefully, I can set it in shade and make it comfortable a few days because I won't be putting it in the ground right away. The nurseryman said it can behave like a Butterfly Bush, in that it can die back over winter and I should prune it just like BB. Anybody happy? unhappy? with their Bush Clover?

Comments (35)

  • 15 years ago

    Are you talking about Lespedezas? If so, I have L. 'Spring Grove', which gets about 5 ft tall in a vase shape/fountain shape and blooms a long time. I also have L. yakushima ( I think that's the right species name.) It's quite low--maybe 18 inches, and I use several of them as a groundcover in a small area. They take considerable drought and are completely deer resistant. Great plants.

  • 15 years ago

    laceyvail, a search I did after my Thursday post brought up an older thread in which you posted about Bush Clover. Thanks for that and this reply,too.

    Yes, I bought Lespedeza thunbergii "Gibralter", that's what the tags says. Also grows to 5' and into a vase/fountain shape. Well, I figured since the Phlox end up with "skinny legs" now every year, that is mildew, no leaves, I might as well try the Bush Clover which will have somewhat the same appearance but healthier looking foliage longer. Plus practically the same color - rosy purple.

    My problem is right now the area is so darn dry to dig up and transplant the Phlox out and put the BC in, and the BC is in real need of getting out of that pot. Was thinking of soaking the ground there for a long time today then lifting plants and working the soil tomorrow.

    Also saw some interesting dwarf Phlox at the same nursery that I thought might be nice to plant in front of the BC. They are a rose color,too. IF they would stay short that is.
    I'll keep the white David in the bed. They claim you can prune back the BC and keep it controlled, which I hope is true.

  • 15 years ago

    I have Pink Fountain and I would love it even if it never bloomed. It is not in a great place, and yet just keeps on doing its thing. The foliage is a beautiful blue green and has gorgeous texture. It rarely gets water and never ever looks wilted or unhappy in any way. (I do keep it mulched.) Mine is more than four feet by four feet, but that may be because it's not in particularly good soil. Mine loses all its leaves in the winter, and I cut it back in the spring when I cut back ornamental grasses. It's a great bush to underplant with spring blooming bulbs, by the way. One other thing, some years it wants to bloom in the early summer. If you let it do that, it won't bloom as well in the fall. I cut it back.

  • 15 years ago

    In early summer,if it starts to set buds should I just cut off enough that it doesn't bloom? Not way back to the ground again,right?

  • 15 years ago

    Right. Just cut back below the flower buds.

  • 15 years ago

    Ok. Thanks. And I'll tell you, mine is definitely not happy in it's plastic nursery pot - it folds its leaves up and looks like it's going to croak until I give it another big drink. Hope I don't over water. But tomorrow is suppose to be another 85 degree day; and I don't like the thought of digging out the old bed and digging a new place for the Phlox I'm taking out of there. Unless, I get up at 5am.- which isn't a bad idea really.
    Think I'll go back out right now and move it into deeper shade before it gets too dark.

  • 15 years ago

    My established lespedeza requires pruning two times a year: in early spring to 6" and again (in half) in May. Despite that it's about 6' tall x 8' wide now. One year I forgot to give it a haircut in May and it was at least 10' wide by August.
    Absolutely drought tolerant shrub.

  • 15 years ago

    I'm doing the happy dance.

  • 15 years ago

    I grow 'White Fountains'. Excellent plant. As everyone has mentioned before, it's vase shaped and most cultivars can get quite large. This makes it challenging to find companions in the Spring to occupy the space until the Lespedeza gets going and arches over, swallowing up any plant nearby. I've found that it will smother most annuals. Spring bulbs do work. I'm experimenting with using a species Gladiola (dies back around June 1, about the time the Lespedeza starts to arch).

  • 15 years ago

    I was browsing the web for more info on Lespedeza (how DO you pronounce it?), and got the feeling it may spread by seed. Good suggestion about planting Spring bulbs, donnabaskets wrote that also; I was leaning toward some dwarf Phlox but maybe those won't work afterall. I was dividing some dwarf yellow Iris and transplanted a piece of that near it.

    Yesterday I was sitting and contemplating from afar and noticed again how similar it's leaf shape is to the privet hedge's behind it. Was afraid they would blend into each other too much and really wished I had something a darker green behind the BC, too. Well, by afternoon, the privet appears darker on account of the sun being behind it; so I guess things will look ok.

  • 15 years ago

    I believe that you pronounce it Les-pe-de'za. Short vowels each time.

    spazzycat, are you thinking of putting Byzantine glads under your Lespedeza? That's a really great idea! I should think it would be dormant by the time the plant gets large enough to cover it. I may try that too!

  • 15 years ago

    Found a pic on the internet of the glads. VERY pretty. I'll look for bulbs, also.

    {{gwi:264588}}

  • 15 years ago

    Yes, those glads are the one I'm trying. Here's a picture of the glads blooming in another area (time of year: May):

    {{gwi:264589}}

    I read that Pam Harper used Portulaca beneath her Lespedeza and I tried that, but the Lespedeza easily smothered the Portulaca, so I think the Gladiola will work better. They also bloom the same time as Dutch iris and I wonder if I also planted the iris there if they would have an issue being enveloped by the Lespedeza. Probably, since they like to bake in the sun when not in bloom.

  • 15 years ago

    Yes, that photo gives a much better idea of the height and habit of the glads. Thanks. You know, I was thinking about nepeta, too - I see you have that growing on the left. Isn't that the blue? Of course that would bloom all summer, but might not be a bad idea. What shrub or plant is that between the two? I like the bright green/dark green effect.

  • 15 years ago

    That is Euphorbia 'Red Wing' in bloom (chartruese blooms). A great plant for spots that have good drainage (it likes it high and dry).

  • 15 years ago

    I really like that Euphorbia "Red Wing". I did a search and a description of it stated the plant has blue-green foliage at some point, too? Wow. Interesting.

  • 15 years ago

    Schoolhouse, if you go looking for that Byzantine glad, look for the one called "Cruentas". There is an inferior one that is common in the the bulb trade, which I got twice before I realized that the gorgeous one I was seeing in old gardens has a name. The bloom color is not as vivid, and the foliage isn't as healthy looking in the commonly offered one.

    I know that Old House Gardens and Plant Delights carry Cruentas, and yes they're high. Maybe someone else knows a less expensive source? The good news is these bulbs multiply very fast.

  • 15 years ago

    Thank you donnabaskets, I went to the Old House Garden web site. My gosh, beautiful plants there. I bookmarked the site and will check out Plant Delights, too. I will probably order the glad from one of them.

  • 15 years ago

    Think I've settled on what I intend to plant in front of the Bush Clover. Another low boxwood hedge in a semi-circle shape, the small hedge will add some dark green color there and also provide a nice background for a garden urn across from it. Just have to make sure I give the BC plenty of room, guess I'll learn just how much come next year.

    I decided that I don't want too many flowering plants competing with the BC's lovely arching blooms. But behind the BC, I'll plant the Allium Nigrum I bought last week. They are suppose to grow to 30" height (or more) and bloom May-June. I have three Crown Imperials there already. By the times these and the alliums are done blooming, maybe the BC will be filling out and ready for its first trim.

    Right now, it's beautiful and came thru the dry spell just fine. Had me worried for awhile, tho.

  • 15 years ago

    I have Lespedeza Pink Fountains, and I love it. But it does get HUGE! Well, I have to admit that I planted 2 fairly close to each other. It looks like one bush now.

    Dies back to the ground here in winter. I cut the canes back to about 4-6 inches in early spring. It is just starting to bloom now. By next week it should be almost in full bloom. It usually blooms almost the entire month of September.

    As mine gets so large, I have found that planting spring blooming plants nearby works well. Because by fall they are completely overshadowed by the bush clover. I have peonies and iris nearby.

    This picture was taken shortly after planting in 2004.
    {{gwi:264590}}
    This was taken in September 2005
    {{gwi:264591}}
    This was taken in May of 2006
    {{gwi:264592}}
    This was taken in late August 2006
    {{gwi:264594}}
    This was taken in September 2007
    {{gwi:264595}}

    And....it is even bigger this year. Haven't taken any pictures yet, but if you would like one from this year I can take one and post it.

    Hope this helps.
    Marylu

  • 15 years ago

    Oh my goodness! They are gorgeous. These photos really give me an idea of the what's to come, thank you so much. The one I planted is called "Gibralter" and it's already a big plant, but not full. I'd enjoy any pics you have of your BC, it's good reference.

    I was going to plant the boxwood two feet in front of it....maybe I'll have to rethink this again. You're scaring me! ha.

  • 15 years ago

    schoolhouse...
    I shot these pictures this afternoon. It is not nearly in full bloom yet! This year you can't even see my pump, but it is in there! I had to pull the planter in the front further forward a few weeks ago as it was being totally overtaken.
    {{gwi:264596}}
    side view
    {{gwi:264597}}

    I should note that I do cut it down in spring, as it dies back here in the winter, however I have never cut it back during the growing season as someone above mentioned.

  • 15 years ago

    Wow! That Pink Fountain looks like it's on steroids! Gorgeous. Mine is planted in un-amended soil, (just a good hole, no bed), and gets almost no supplemental water. And no fertilizer at all. It's a neat four feet by four feet. In full bloom right now. Just goes to show you: it's all about the soil.

  • 15 years ago

    Mama mia'! Well, I'll just have to keep an eye on it. Interesting that you said you hadn't pruned it in June as others have done. I'd be afraid that it wouldn't bloom later in Sept/Oct. if I trimmed it; but guess I'll just have to learn which is better. To trim or not to trim. That is the question. Thank you very much for posting all the pics, mary lu.

    donnabaskets - how old is your BC?

  • 15 years ago

    i'm reading along in this thread and thinking of my newly planted one that is a fountain of pink as we speak- but plenty of room to tuck something in underneath.(i have it held up by an armed stake.) Then I look at your photos.good LORD, marylu; it's huMONgous. where do you garden? i just can't believe mine will get the size of a weigela- like yours.It gets a good amount of shade where it is; maybe that will help control its size.I hope someone will soon introduce a clear pink one; i am not fond of pinky purple.
    I have 2 and one is planted w/ phlox David , green and white variegated bamboo and agastache black adder; and the other is planted w/ a blue spruce and variega. hakonechloa , sib. iris and astilbe underneath.

    best,
    mindy

  • 15 years ago

    arbo, I like your companion plant choices. So far, I still have David phlox, blue hardy ageratum (mist flower),a darker purple phlox with a white eye and a tall bearded iris remaining in the bed where I planted the BC. In front and off to one side, that is. Not sure about keeping the iris there.Still leaning strongly towards the boxwood hedge on the other side of it, then spring bulbs behind.

    And mary lu mentioned that there are really two BC planted next to each other.

  • 15 years ago

    HA! 2 eh?,well that does make me feel a little better!
    thnx,
    mindy

  • 15 years ago

    Yes there are 2 planted there, about 3-4 feet apart. In spring you can tell that there are 2, but not long after it is impossible to tell as they look like one big bush.

    Someone on another forum mentioned that they prune it back in spring (I do too as it dies to the ground over winter) and then they prune it back some again further into the summer to help maintain it's size. Hmmm....maybe I'll try that next year, although where it is planted, the size is not that much of a problem.

    I think it has reached full bloom. There are still many buds to open and will bloom through the month, but some of the early blooms are starting to drop petals. So I think this is peak.

    These photos were taken at lunch time today in bright sun light.
    {{gwi:264598}}
    {{gwi:264599}}
    These photos were taken last night in early evening light.
    {{gwi:264600}}
    {{gwi:264601}}
    {{gwi:264602}}

  • 15 years ago

    I went ahead and planted the boxwood yesterday 2' or so in a semi circle in front of mine. Will keep the hedge pruned to not more than 10"-12" high. I really like the dark green of the boxwood with the rosey purple blooms and arching branches of the BC; right now it's only 3' X 4', but I know in the future I'll be dealing with trying to keep them from draping over the hedge too much. Guess I'll just have to learn how to trim and tweak it.

    I've been browsing bulb catalogs and keep changing my mind about what to plant in front of it. Still considering the glads. Decided to go with alliums behind.

  • 15 years ago

    When my Mom saw the shrub in my garden, right away she thought about planting it as a hedge. She knows I'm still looking for something to act as a screen between me and the neighbors at the end of the property. But we both agreed it would be a challenge to remember to prune it all back to 6" in early Spring. Besides, the soil in that area being thin and poor with nearby pine trees (on their side of the line) I don't think the BC would grow well. Would be spectacular tho wouldn't it?

  • 15 years ago

    Not really a challenge to remember to prune, as it dies back to the ground in winter. Then regrows from the ground up in spring. So you could cut back in late fall or real early in spring. It is supposed to be hardy to zone 5 and drought tolerant once established. Yes would be gorgeous as a hedge in fall, but every year it would regrow. So that is something to consider. In early spring/summer there would be minimal hedge effect.

  • 15 years ago

    this is so hysterical. i have my new single stem one planted in mostly (open) shade, 16" back from a path edge. ha ha ha ha ha. someone give that plant a frequent flyer pass....... another project for next spring!
    best,
    mindy

  • 15 years ago

    Cameron, my Lespedeza is 3 or 4 years old, I think. As I said earlier, I have a feeling that this is a plant that by nature grows in lean soil, but if given good fertile moist soil, it must do the steroid thing.
    Arbo, you should check out Pink Fountains. To me, it's a true clear pink. Maybe just a hint of blue in it.

  • 15 years ago

    I agree that mine probably gets larger than most will. For some reason everything I plant in my yard gets huge. My daughter has joked that she doesn't want to know what is buried in the yard! :-)

    Below is a link to the vendor that I purchased it from. It does give expected sizes to be 4-6 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide in 10 years. Mine exceeded that in 5 years!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Klehm's Song Sparrow

Sponsored
Ed Ball Designs
Average rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars30 Reviews
Exquisite Landscape Architecture & Design - “Best of Houzz" Winner