Houseplant: Sophora prostrata

March 25, 2013

I am highly influenced by the convergence of beautiful photography with fantastically different plants.  Such was the case when I stumbled across a post at Leila’s about some houseplants that she is testing out.

sophora prostrata (dwarf pagoda tree)

This image of Sophora prostrata made me gasp.  I am obsessing over those little baby fern leaves – and I must have one.  I found them available by mail order from Forest Farm Nursery In Oregon (which btw….is one of those troublingly intriguing – because I’ve already spent my spring plant budget- nurseries that  have all sorts of interesting things to excite plant lovers).

I am anxiously looking forward to adding it to my collection of container plants that I bring inside in the winter as house plants and use outside in all sorts of fun ways through the summer.

Do you know this plant?  I think it is pretty rare. I would love to hear more about it if you grow it.

Sophora prostrata Photo: Lena Granfelt

image via here

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  1. I shop the Oregon nurseries and I don’t believe as of this writing I have been disappointed. I also budget and so far I have only treated as a guideline.

  2. I’ve got two of them, one wasn’t enough! They are carefree and amazing when they bloom as their flowers look way to heavy for those tiny stems.

  3. That is a dwarf kowhai, a New Zealand native. The divaricating branches are gorgeous, but the yellow flowers at the beginning of spring are the real highlight. Some kowhai varities are huge trees but this prostrata would grow to 2m at the very most. I think it would be a stunning pot plant.

    Good kowhai link

  4. Bruno says:

    Had no idea these were available overseas but cool that they are (am posting from New Zealand, where I have recently planted one in the front yard). They are amazing plants, not sure if this version is deciduous like the full size trees are. That photograph is amazing, I might have to grow a new plant from seed and plant it in a tub.

  5. phil says:

    Mine little baby just arrived from Oregon Nurseries. I am going to attemp to grow her indoors, I have a few skylights in a double height space which I hope will be enough light in Brooklyn. Any advice out there for indoor cultivation?

  6. Janice says:

    I live in the Uk where it’s not easy to find, however, I just found some in Amsterdam and brought one back in my hand luggage, Im waiting to see if it thrives after it’s journey. I didn’t know that it bloomed!

  7. Zoe says:

    Quite a few years ago I found a single one in a nursery nearby. It was (wrongly) labelled as Japanese pagoda tree and cheaper than a cup of coffee (probably because they were not sure what it was). I fell in love with it, got it, brought it home and planted it straight into the ground. Yeah, you guessed it – I’m not much of a gardener as the thought of it not being hardy enough never crossed my mind. However, it’s doing very well and this year it’s better than ever. It has been totally neglected for a few years (as was the rest of my garden) but it’s blooming, seeding and sprouting new leaves/branches all over the place. Seems like is doing better in dappled shade than it was in full sun. It is already taller than gardening books/sites say it can be (it’s around 3m, which is about 10ft).
    I live in Yorkshire (North England) and the winters here are relatively mild, not much snow, but winds can be horrendous.
    I tried taking cuttings – doesn’t work, I’m afraid. I’ve just planted half a dozen seeds as I read somewhere that they easily grow from seed. I’ve got some photos but I don’t know how to post them here. I also have loads of healthy seed pods that I don’t know what to do with. Want some? Would it be legal to send seeds from UK to USA?

  8. Jean Huang says:


    I’m lucky to have found this site and read your comments. Do you still have some seeds? I’d love to have some. I’m in Los Angeles. If you email me, I can provide my mailing address that way.

    Thank you so much,


  9. Jean Huang says:


    I was looking for info on this beautiful plant and thank you for the inspiration!

    If you still have some seeds and don’t mind mailing it all the way to the US, could I have some? I can email you my address if you could provide your email address.

    Thank you so much,


    P.S. I tried to leave a comment earlier and it was “swallowed”. So, if it seems that I have submitted two comments, my apologies.

  10. I love this plant..Just discovered the name…Sophora Prostrata Little Baby…..What I’m really surprised about is that no one has spoken about the citrusy fragrance of the leaves…its simply amazing. Just rub the leaves and smell your fingers…’s amazing

  11. Lucy says:

    Hi there, I have got one as well and I love it. But it lost all the leaves… After a while it started to get new ones I was so happy about it but now it looses it again. New ones are growing but even very small are dying… the surface of the plant is kind of sticky I wonder if it is somehow ill? Does anybody know what it could be and how to deal with that? Thank you so much. Lucy

  12. Mathias says:

    I‘ve the same problem. The plant and the leaves are very dry and it seems like it‘s diying. I bought it with small, green leaves. The first month the plant was growing a little and the leaves were getting bigger and even more (at ~20 Centigrade). It looked rly good. But at some point all that changed and i have no idea why. I tried to change it‘s place and i gave the plant a new and bigger pot with new soil. I also tried to vary the amount of water. The condition of the plant constantly was getting worse. I rly would appreciate some help. Mathias

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