Crimson clover is a popular cover crop in the US thanks to its numerous benefits. This legume fixes nitrogen in the soil and helps other plants grow, all while providing forage to livestock and attracting pollinators.
In determining when to plant crimson clover, note that April and May are the best months for northern locations, while August to October will be more suitable for southern areas. Read further below to narrow down your planting dates.
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Best Time to Plant Crimson Clover
There are two ways you can plant crimson clover—either as a winter annual or a summer annual. Which option to choose depends on where you live.
- For southeastern US or hardiness zone 6 to 9, fall planting clover as a winter annual makes sense, since the climates in these regions are warm enough for the cover crop to overwinter and flower in May the subsequent year.
- On the other hand, residents in northern US or hardiness zone 3 to 5 will be better off with spring-planting crimson clover and treating it as a summer annual.
Growing this crop in the fall will only lead to winter kill when freezing temperatures eventually hit.
In any case, the general rule regarding planting dates is to sow crimson clover after the last frost in the spring or six to eight weeks before the first frost in the fall.
We’ve estimated the seeding schedule for each hardiness region below.
|Average last frost
|Average first frost
|Dates for growing crimson clover
|Doesn’t matter, because you should plant in spring
|Fall planting is better.
|August 22 – September 5
|September 3 – 17
|September 12 – 26
|September 30 – October 14
Tips for Successful Crimson Clover Planting
1. Select a suitable planting location
Crimson clover does not do well in heavy, dry, or waterlogged areas. As a result, you should not put it in rocky soil or clay ground but opt for a well-drained, loamy planting medium instead.
Loamy, sandy soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 and full sunlight will help encourage healthy growth and beautiful blossoms.
2. Sow seeds at the right depth and ensure proper spacing
Plant crimson clover seeds at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch. While you’re at it, space them three inches apart in rows with the same amount of distance.
We also recommend adjusting crimson clover seeding rate depending on the planting method — use 15 pounds of seeds per acre if drilling and 22 pounds per the same area if broadcasting the plant.
In case you’re growing crimson clover alongside other crops, 10 to 15 pounds every acre is a good guideline to follow.
3. Provide proper care
After planting crimson clover, give it a temperature of 40 to 70℉ for optimal establishment.
Keep the soil damp with an inch of moisture and five waterings per week. If planting in the fall, you probably won’t need to irrigate much, unless the weather is unusually dry or your soil doesn’t retain moisture well.
It’s also wise to cover the seeds with bird nets if avians frequent your yard. With proper care, crimson clover’s germination time will happen within three to seven days.
Does Crimson Clover Come Back Every Year?
Because it’s an annual, crimson clover will not come back every year. However, you can harvest this legume’s seeds after it dies for replanting next season.
Another alternative is to let crimson clover reseed itself. Let the seeds drop into the ground instead of collecting and storing them, and they will sprout once temperatures become suitable.
Though mostly known for being an excellent cover crop, crimson clover also produces stunning scarlet flowers that complement other ornamentals like corn poppies and bachelor buttons.
You only need to follow our planting instructions and tips to determine when to plant crimson clover and enjoy its benefits.
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Related: Best Time to Plant Red Clover
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