11 Plants That Start With K - Urban Agriculture

11 Plants That Start With K

Do you wonder what plants start with ‘K’? There are more than you might be able to think of straightaway. We have a list of plants starting with ‘K’ from popular fruit and pretty blossoms to vegetables and weeds.

Kaffir Lily

Kaffir Lily is a popular perennial plant that flowers beautifully in the winter months. Originally from South Africa, Kaffir Lily grows mostly in New Zealand, China, Japan and the USA, although it can be found in gardens across the world. In warmer climates, it’s best suited for indoor gardens or pots as it loves cold temperatures and shade.

The plant itself can grow up to 18 inches tall, with large budding flowers that sometimes have a faint scent. They do however contain a small amount of a toxin which makes this plant poisonous.

Although Kaffir Lily is not actually a lily, it is also known as fire lily, Natal lily or bush lily.

Kale

Rich in vitamins and minerals, Kale is one of the best-known vegetables around the world. This knee-high cabbage relative enjoys the cool seasons, and for this reason, it’s also very popular as a winter vegetable.

Kale contains a range of vitamins, fiber and calcium as well as iron and antioxidants that can help the body remove unwanted toxins. Usually you will eat the leaves of kale but you can also kale flowers as a special treat. Kale leaves a great addition to every diet, whether in a soup or as a salad.

Kalimeris

Kalimeris, also known as Blue Star, is a beautiful flower growing purple and blue blossoms. This perennial is originally from East Asia although it can grow anywhere around the world. 

It flowers from summer to fall, and the flowers are daisy-like, small petals with soft blue and pastel colors. Their unobtrusive looks together with their resilience to slugs make them a great companion for kale, ferns and cabbages. Kalimeris are relatively tough so you can also grow them in pots.

Kalimeris are also often called Korean asters or Japanese asters referencing to their origins.

Kangaroo Paws

Naturally growing in southwest Australia, kangaroo paws has become a new favorite Christmas plant in the USA and around the world. The plant’s flowers can range from yellow to orange, red and even black. They can be planted in pots or outdoors during spring and summer.

Its long flower stalks rise above the foliage, indicating to birds and other pollinators that it’s producing nectar. This helps insects like bees and butterflies to pollinate but also proviees a resting perch for birds. 

Because of its tropical origins, kangaroo paws can only grow outdoors in warmer climates or needs to overwinter indoors to avoid freezing. In winter’ it’s best to keep this perennial dry as it’s dormant at this time of year. They prefer to grow in full sunlight for at least 6 hours per day.

Just as their natural Australian habitat, they also enjoy sandy soil but have adapted over time to grow in other soil types with good drainage. If you grow your kangaroo paws in pots, it’s best to use an all-purpose potting mix with a few handfuls of sand.

The beautiful, brilliant colors and exotic flowers resembling a kangaroo paw make this plant a rewarding endeavor for all garden lovers. And another great advantage, kangaroo paws is resistant to most pests and insects. However, if you choose to grow them indoors, they might be susceptible to spider mites.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

As its name suggests, the Kentucky coffee tree is native to the central states of the US, from Nebraska and Pennsylvania and Minnesota to Oklahoma. The tree gets its name from the early Kentucky settlers who noticed that the tree’s seed pods resemble coffee beans. However, this tree’s wood was also used in the construction of railway sleeper cars. 

As a sapling, the Kentucky coffee tree grows fast but slows down as it matures. Just like many other trees, the Kentucky coffee tree needs a lot of space to grow, reaching up to 20 feet in width and 50 feet in height. This hardy and tough tree is tolerant to pollution and thus an excellent choice for city parks, golf courses and other large green spaces.  

The Kentucky coffee tree produces pyramidal clusters of greenish-white flowers that come out at the same time as the leaves mature, around late May to early June. The flowers of the female trees also have a fragrance resembling that of a rose. 

Kidney Vetch

Kidney vetch has small, yellow flowers that are easy to spot from a distance. It grows on lime-rich, sunny and chalky banks up mountainsides or near the sea. Similar to its relative purple milk vetch, kidney vetch has no tendrils and the short, soft hairs on the underside of the leaves make it feel smooth and silky when you touch it.

The Latin name of kidney vetch, vulneraria, literally means wound healer hinting at this plant’s old medicinal use to treat wounds in ancient times.

Kiwi

Most of us are familiar with the fuzzy-skinned fruit of this vine. Growing in East Asia, kiwi is a twining, woody vine that grows vigorously needing a lot of space and regular pruning. There is only a few self-fertile kiwi varieties, but usually, you will need to put together a male and female variety for pollination if you want to grow kiwifruit. 

Kiwi plants can be grown in any garden as long as it has enough light. Kiwi vines need a lot of sunlight as well as shelter to survive, so you should choose a south-facing wall protected from heavy winds. As they mature they cannot support themselves so they will need a trellis or support structure.

It’s important that Kiwi plants have well-drained, acidic and fertile soil. This way they can produce an abundance of kiwifruit that is twice as rich in vitamin than oranges.

Knapweed

With its purple flower head, knapweed somewhat resembles a thistle. Often growing on its own is a wild flower growing in meadows and grassland habitats from cliff tops to lawns. Sometimes you can even see it on road verges or overgrown gardens, meadows and other grassland habitats from lawns to cliff-tops but it can also thrives in hedges.

Knapweed’s versatile and resilient nature, together with its large flower head, mean it’s a firm favorite with pollinating insects, like bees, beetles and butterflies. But its seeds also are a food source for many small bird species. 

Knotweed

Knotweed has a bad reputation as it’s an invasive species which roots grow ferociously if you don’t cut them, damaging other plants and buildings. Best known as Japanese knotweed, this non-native plant can grow up to eight inches per day on a warm summer day reaching a height of up to 15 feet.

But knotweed’s root system can spread as wide as 70 feet which allows it to crowd out native plants and cause damage in any garden, and beyond. 

Although in the past sold through seed and plant catalogs, by the late-1930s knotweed reached its status as pest and it’s now ranked as one of the world’s top 100 most invasive species. Once knotweed is established in an area, it can alter the local ecosystem, impact wildlife and erode soil. It’s extremely persistent and tough to eradicate.

Knotweed’s bamboo-like stems also mean it’s sometimes called Japanese bamboo. With great resilience, Japanese knotweed can tolerate high temperatures, drought, high soil salinity as well as deep shade. That’s why it’s often invading disturbed areas like building sites or old farmsteads.

Kohlrabi

Resembling the shape of a tennis ball with sprouting leaves, kohlrabi is a popular vegetable. Both the leafstalks and leaves of this cabbage relative are edible but they are usually grown for their large, bulblike ‘fruit’. 

Kohlrabi plants can be grown from seed and you can harvest the bulbuous globe when its roughly 23 inches in diameter up to 60 days after seeding. Most kohlrabi plants are a light green but you can also find varieties that are a shade of purple. 

Kohlrabi, also known as German turnip, originated from different parts of Europe, and it was first grown in countries like Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.

Kudzu

Kudzu has a similar reputation as Japanese knotweed. Also native to Japan, kudzu is a vine that was first introduced to the US in 1876. Since then it has covered millions of acres of fields, land and houses, particularly in the South East of the United States.

In Korea, kudzu root was harvested for its starch, which can be used as base for various different foods and herbal medicine. In China, kudzu root has a similar use in herbal remedies, teas, and the treatment of alcohol-related problems.

Across other parts of South East Asia, kudzu is also used for paper products, insect repellents and honey. In the West, research is also looking at using kudzu as a source for biofuel.

Kudzu can grow up to 1 foot per day and it thrives in almost any condition. Its leaves and stem are coarse and hairy, and the plant grows fragrant red-purple flowers. The leaves and tubers of kudzu are edible and you can even make a delicious jelly from the flowers.

Caroline Roberts
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