There are many benefits to growing clover, including clover’s ability to attract the beloved honeybee. Growing clover is also an environmentally friendly move when it comes to your home landscaping. Honeybees make wonderful pollinators to have around your garden and plants and support the ecosystem.
Many varieties of clover are bee attractors. Both red (Trifolium pratense) and white (Trifolium repens) varieties are great for bees and will draw in the pollinators to your yard. In particular, though, crimson clover and white clover are best for bringing in working honeybees since the nectar is easily accessible in their short florets.
In this article, we’ll explore the best way to plant and grow clover in your lawn. Certain conditions are necessary for clover growth, in order to attract the correct type of bees. Read on to learn about these conditions, as well as the best place to find clover seed.
When to Plant Clover in Your Lawn
In general, spring is one of the best times of the year to start growing clover. Spring weather presents optimal growing conditions to sow the plant from seed. However, you can also plant some clover varieties in the summer.
It really depends on what your purpose is for planting the clover. If it’s to attract bees, then springtime is the best time, since the blooms will be ready in the summer months when bees are most active. Summer is also when many other plants will be blooming, as well as fruiting plants that require pollinators.
When Does Clover Bloom?
You can’t get clover seeds to produce unless your clover bloom. One good thing to note about clover, though, is that it will always bloom within a year’s time if properly cared for. It generally takes several months for most varieties to bloom, so if you sow in the spring, you’ll have blooms in the summer months.
For example, certain varieties of white clover bloom within the time span of about four months (16 weeks) and reach a mature height of about 0.2 m.
How Long Is Clover Seed Good For?
Those who let their clover reach maturity and go to seed may have the intention of harvesting seeds for future sowing seasons. This is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of continuing the crop into future years.
However, if not stored in proper temperature and moisture conditions, clover seeds will not last long. If you keep the seeds dry and at an adequate temperature, they can in some cases last for a few years and still be viable for germination. Cold storage and low moisture make the ideal environment for keeping clover seeds for a long time.
However, if you don’t maintain the right storage conditions, your harvested seeds could go bad within a year’s time, or less. This would make them unviable for future germination.
When Does Clover Go to Seed?
Like many other varieties of flowering plants, clover varieties will go to seed after they bloom. This is basically a way of saying that the blooms will produce new seeds that you can harvest eventually.
You’ll want to be patient and wait until the clover blooms fully dry out, though, before trying to harvest seeds for future use. If you don’t wait until the blooms are fully dry, you run the risk of harvesting seeds with moisture that simply won’t last when you store them.
You can expect this time frame to be about 10 days to two weeks after the blooms form.
Further, if you want a really good seed harvest, you may consider waiting until the clover has been growing for a couple of years already. This allows the plant to reach a higher level of maturity, thus resulting in higher quality seed harvests.
Does Clover Die in Winter?
White clover varieties are typically perennial varieties. Perennial is a way of saying that a plant will grow back the next year; you don’t have to re-plant anything. Clover will die off in the winter, preparing itself for a resurgence the next spring, when temperatures reach their ideal state.
Typically, clover will start to lose its green colour when the first frost appears. Consequently, it won’t resurge again until all signs of frost are gone.
Clover Growing Specifics
When it comes to growing and maintaining clover to attract bees, you want to ensure that you provide your clover with the right conditions. As with any plant you grow at home, you need the right amount of sunlight and moisture to promote growth and flowering.
Will Clover Grow in Shade?
One thing about clover that works to its advantage is that it is easy to grow. Given that clover is actually a type of weed, it does well and thrives, even amongst other flora surrounding it. It will even thrive in shady conditions. In addition to its good growth in shady areas, clover can also thrive in poorly drained areas of your lawn – places where moisture collects.
Some winter fertilizers are for eradicating clover growth so that it doesn’t return in the spring. If you want to promote a bee-friendly garden, then be wary of the fertilizers you use so you don’t stamp out your clover.
Will Clover Outcompete Grass?
You should keep in mind when growing clover to attract bees, that clover has a tendency to grow and spread quickly. You run the risk of ending up with a yard almost completely covered in clover when you start planting it. It is, after all, a type of weed, and it’s a strong one at that.
Since it can grow in much wetter and shadier conditions than typical lawn grass, it may sometimes outcompete your yard’s efforts. Therefore, if you want to maintain a uniformly green yard, you’re just not going to get that result when intentionally planting clover.
One upside to this factor, though, is that clover will also outcompete some other typical lawn weeds. This could be to your advantage. Additionally, clover has the advantage of adding more nitrogen to your yard’s soil. Nitrogen is a healthy fertilizer for your yard, making clover very sustainable.
How Short Can You Mow Clover?
Ideally, you want to keep blooms on your clover for as long as you can. This will widen the time window for attracting bees, as they need the blooms for pollination. A lot of people go into growing clover thinking that they’ll need to mow it regularly, like you would with grass. However, clover itself actually requires very little mowing.
That said, if your lawn is a mixture of grass and clover, you’ll end up mowing it regularly (probably once a week), which means you will end up mowing your clover, too.
If you want your clover to mature properly, though, you should avoid mowing it until after the first blooms have died out and you’ve collected seeds. Once the blooms are dead, you can mow your clover to about 5 cm. You may even want to wait until the second year of growth to mow a clover yard at all.
Bees and Flower Relationships
There are several types of bees you can attract with clover; it isn’t just limited to honeybees. Further, you can also plant several types of wildflower along with your clover to assist in the pollination efforts.
Honeybees and different types of bumblebees are the most common among the bees that clover attracts. Red clover varieties often attract bumblebees, rather than honeybees, since they have tongues long enough to reach the nectar.
If you want to add even more floral variety to your lawn, and bring in more pollinators in the process, there are several flowers you can plant. In particular, bees tend to like wildflowers for pollinating purposes.
Beebombs are a popular variety to choose, and they create a colourful addition to your garden or yard. Further, wildflowers such as Daisies, Musk Mallow and Yellow Rattle are all attractors of honey bees.
Best Place to Buy Clover Seed
The best place to buy clover seed online in the UK is crocus. A preferable variety they offer is the classic Trifolium repens (otherwise known as white clover).
It’s a variety you can sow any time of the year, but it tends to flower between April and September. You get a great number of seeds (around 750) for a very decent price, with relatively quick shipping in 1-2 days. Check out the price here.
Growing clover is an excellent step towards having a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lawn. Clover is a wonderfully natural attractor of bumblebees and honeybees. You can grow multiple varieties from seed with long-term payoff since most of them are perennials.
You should ideally plant clover seed in the spring and hold off on mowing it until after you’ve harvested seeds from the dried up blooms. Clover makes great greenery to accompany other wildflowers in your lawn.