Growing Dorycnium (Lotus) in Containers-Growing Canary Clover or Hairy Canary

Lotus dorycnium
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow the small shrub of Dorycnium (Lotus) in containers. Dorycnium is a synonym of Lotus, a flowering plant in the Fabaceae (Legume) family. There are only 3 species known to exist- Lotus hirsutus (Dorycnium hirsutum), Lotus dorycnium (Dorycnium pentaphyllium) the prostrate canary clover, and Lotus herbaceus (Dorcynium herbaceum or Darycnium jardinii).

Lotus dorycnium
Lotus dorycnium

They are, in general, low-growing, silvery shrubs that are native to the Canary Islands. Lotus hirsutus is a semi-evergreen, subshrub that only grows up to 80cm high. It is grown for its attractive foliage, with closely packed leaflets of greyish-green and covered with silvery hairs. On top of the erect stems, the flower clusters appear from late June to early July. Each bloom is white and has a distinct pink tinge and it will give much beauty to the container garden. Each flower will fade and be replaced with a reddish-brown seed pod.

Lotus dorycnium is a 70cm tall shrub, whose stems and branches are woody. The leaves are composed of five segments and are hairy on both sides. From May to July, small white flowers in terminal umbels appear on a short stem.

They make an excellent contributor to silver or white container schemes.

Find out how to grow Dorycnium (Lotus) in containers in this article.


Lotus hirsutus
Lotus hirsutus

First, choose a container that will be in balance and character with the plant in question. No matter what you choose, make sure it has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom. To this container add 2cm of gravel to aid drainage further.

To this make a sandy growing media by mixing 30% by volume of washed building sand with 70% by volume of multipurpose compost. Add this to the container up to 5cm below the top rim. Dig a hole at the centre of the container slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original pot. Drop the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top surface of the compost.  Backfill with the growing media so that no gaps remain, using more compost if necessary. Firm the plant in and water well.


Lotus herbaceus
Lotus herbaceus

This is one plant that does well in full sun so place the container where it will get this growing condition. This is one plant that is very drought tolerant once established, you will need to only water when the plant is showing obvious water stress and is wilting. Water when the container feels light when you pick it up. Water until it emerges from the drainage holes.

This is one plant that does well in impoverished soils and composts, so do not feed at all as it thrives under near-starvation conditions.

To prune, you will need to cut back old shoots to the base of the plant in early spring. This will promote new growth.

To propagate, you can sow seeds in autumn or plant semi-ripe cuttings on a pot full of sandy growing media in a cold frame in summer.


The plant does not suffer readily from pests and diseases, but root rot may occur if you do not provide adequate drainage. Aphids can be a problem and so can mealybugs. These pests can be treated by blasting them with jets of water and/or by using a suitable systemic insecticide that can deal with these pests.


There is really only one variety and species that you can find and sold in the UK and that is Dorycnium hirsutum or Lotus hirsutus, which has been described in great detail in the introduction.


In this article, we have discussed the beautiful silvery, flowering plant of Dorycnium (Lotus) in a container. They are beautiful plants in terms of the leaves that are produced and the flowers that appear. They are easy to look after, easy to care for and take neglect very well.

A plant that should be grown in the container garden more widely. If you have any comments or questions that you wish to make on growing Dorycnium in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Dorycnium (Lotus) growing.

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