Clover is a beneficial groundcover plant that can provide weed suppression, nitrogen fixation, and bloom color in lawns and gardens. Proper timing is important when planting clover seeds to ensure successful germination and establishment. This guide covers the optimal times to plant various clover species.
Types of Clover
Popular clover varieties and their growing habits:
White clover – Perennial, propagates by seeds and stolons. Grows 3-6 inches tall.
Red clover – Biennial or short lived perennial, grows up to 24 inches tall.
Crimson clover – Winter annual, grows up to 2 feet tall.
Sweet clover – Biennial, can reach heights over 5 feet.
Alsike clover – Perennial, height around 1-2 feet. Tolerates wet soil.
Knowing the growth pattern of your chosen clover determines optimal planting time.
When to Plant Perennial Clovers
Perennial clovers like white and alsike clover are best planted:
In early spring once temperatures are consistently above 60°F. This allows time for root establishment before summer heat.
In late summer/early fall in zones with milder winters. Growth will slow once cool temperatures arrive.
Avoid planting perennial clovers during peak summer heat or in cold winter months.
When to Plant Annual and Biennial Clovers
Annual and biennial clovers like crimson and red clover should be planted:
In late summer or early fall so they can become established before winter dormancy.
In early spring to take advantage of the entire growing season from spring through frost.
Timing depends on whether you want clover cover over winter or through summer. Avoid midsummer planting.
Optimal Weather and Soil Conditions
Ideally plant clover seeds when:
Daytime temperatures average 60-75°F.
Evening temperatures stay above 40°F.
Soil temperature is at least 55°F.
Soil moisture is present but not waterlogged.
These conditions favor swift clover germination and emergence.
Spring Planting Guide by USDA Zone
For spring planting, follow this zone-specific timeline:
Zones 3-4: Mid to late April
Zones 5-6: Mid March to mid April
Zones 7-8: February to March
Zones 9-10: January to mid February
Adjust dates for your specific area based on weather patterns each year.
Fall Planting Timeline by Zone
For optimal fall planting, use this zone-specific guide:
Zones 3-4: Late August to mid September
Zones 5-6: Late August to late September
Zones 7-8: Early September to early October
Zones 9-10: Late September to late October
Again, you may need to modify timeframes according to local weather and first frost dates.
Planting Tips for Success
Follow best practices when sowing clover seeds:
- Incorporate seeds shallowly into the top 1/4 inch of soil.
- If broadcasting seeds, scratch them into the soil surface.
- Water gently after planting to settle seeds.
- Mulch newly seeded areas to retain moisture.
- Irrigate daily until seedlings emerge, then reduce frequency.
Proper planting and care encourages clover establishment.
Maintaining Clover Plantings
- Weed gently by hand to avoid disturbing clover seedlings.
- Allow leaves to accumulate as living mulch over winter in cold areas.
- Avoid heavy traffic on new plantings until established.
- Mow no lower than 3-4 inches high once clover reaches 6 inches tall.
Careful ongoing maintenance keeps clover looking its best.
Key Tips for Planting Clover
- Time planting in spring or fall based on clover type
- Plant during periods of adequate warmth, moisture and sunlight
- Tailor timing to your specific USDA Hardiness Zone and weather
- Use proper planting depth and keep seeds consistently watered
- Control weeds and allow clover time to establish before mowing
- Adjust maintenance practices as needed throughout the season
With optimal timing and care, planted clover will thrive, whether you choose short-term or perennial varieties. Pay close attention to regional climate patterns and soil conditions when planting clover.