Small leaf white clover (Trifolium repens)
White clover is one of the most beneficial legumes in farming. Due to its creeping growth habit it can spread itself around and fill gaps in pastures and will last many years. Low growing small leaved varieties are the most persistant of clovers and are often an ingredient in permanent pasture mixes. They are particularly useful on sheep farms. They are also excellent for creating white clover lawns and for undersowing with perennial crops.
- Long term nitrogen fixation.
- Spreads by a network of creeping stems close to the surface.
- Cutting stimulates the roots to grow more and fix more nitrogen.
- Small Leaf White Clover can sown between and under long-lived perennials to act as a living mulch.
- It is part of the legume family so treat as such for crop rotation purposes.
- Tolerates close grazing.
- Supplies nitrogen to grass in a pasture but will not take over the sward in summer. The grass in the sward will not be thinned out due to the clover.
Growing White CloverSeeding Rate: Agriculture - 4-5 kg/acre 10-12 kg/ha Horticulture - 1kg covers 400-800m²Sowing: May to September. Seed is tiny so should be broadcast or shallow drilled no deeper than 1cm. The ground should be rolled afterwards to get good soil contact with seed. Can also be over-sown to introduce into existing pastures.Persistence: Long lasting perennial.Soil Preference: Not fussy about soil type but requries decent fertility (Index 3 for P & K) and a pH above 6 to do well.
Click HERE to read a Teagasc guide to White Clover.
White Clover is an excellent plant as an alternative to, or companion for, grass in lawn areas. Being a legume, it will fix nitrogen from the atmoshphere to povide fertility for itself and any neighbouring grass and so remove the need for artificial fertiliser. Clover is drought resistant and so stays green in dry spells and its creeping growth habit once established is good at out competing weeds. Small leaf white clover grows just 5-15cm tall so does not require much mowing, if any, though mowing will help keep the low growth habit and increase nitrogen fixation.
White clover can be grown on its own or in combination with grasses if a more durable lawn is required. It will be most successful by seeding in a fresh seedbed but can be established in existing grass lawns with proper preparation. This involves weakening the grass by mowing it tightly and scratching the soil surface to create a sufficient seed bed for the clover seed and allow plenty of light in. The aim is to have the clover germinate and begin to grow before the grass recovers and outcompetes it. Clover needs warmth to grow so plant after April when soils have warmed up.
- Grass that is intermixed with clover will be healthier and greener with less effort than grass planted alone.
- Grows well in poor soil and tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions. This is useful as poor-quality subsoil is common around many new homes.
- Feels great on bare feet. Clover's leaves and blossoms have a mild pleasant smell and are great for bees and other pollinators.
- From late summer, stop mowing to encourage clover flowering and reseeding to regenerate.
- If you prefer to include clover in a more traditional style lawn without flowering, Pipolina Microclover would be a better option.