Any of you who know me, know I work a lot and don’t have much spare time in my yard. So I love plants like lespedeza that are independent and look beautiful without any fuss. This fast growing member of the legume family likes full sun, (can tolerate part shade but blooms best in full sun) and moist, well draining soil. Once established, very drought tolerant. You can expect it to bloom in May in September in our area.
Lespedeza is a large deciduous, semi-woody shrub with an arching, fountain-like habit, composed of upright branches covered with small, three leaflet fine-textured blue-green leaves that turn golden-yellow in late fall before dropping for winter. Clusters of delicate reddish-purple (fuschia) 1-inch blooms adorn the upright clumping branches while in bloom. May grow 3 to 6 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide in one season. It’s cold hardy to 0 to -10 degrees (F). Prune it back after blooming. It will regrow in even larger fountain-like form. Perfect for mass plantings, a specimen, or border plant.
One or two members of this genus are nasty invasives, but ‘Little Volcano’ produces nonseeding, pealike blooms so no worries of that. The genus name (Lespedeza thunbergii) honors Vincente Manuel de Cespedes, Spanish Governor of West Florida from 1784 to 1790.
Specific epithet honors Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), Swedish naturalist, who collected plants in this species in Japan in 1775-76. It originated in the garden of Dr. Shibamichi in the subtropical Ryukyu Islands (Japan) located in the East China Sea.