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How to Plant Wildflowers
Step by step instructions on how to plant your wildflower seeds.
Find mixtures for your region, or for special uses such as dry areas, partial shade, attracting animals, low growing, and more.
Over 75 choices that will bloom in the second year and for years to come.
Over 110 choices for fast color, such as poppies, cosmos, sunflowers, zinnia, and many more.
Help the birds, bees, butterflies & hummingbirds by planting wildflowers.
Wildflower seeds native to your region. Support local wildlife with native wildflowers.
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Perennial Planting Guide
Step by step instructions on how to plant your bare root or potted perennials when they arrive.
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Clover’s reputation has waxed and waned over the last century. Once considered a sign of a well-managed lawn, clover came to be considered a weed only after broadleaf herbicides hit the market.
Today, gardeners are growing wise to the plant’s many benefits. They plant clover to improve soil health, attract beneficial insects, and promote a healthy lawn. Where will you plant clover in your landscape?
With a number of species available commercially, there is a clover for almost any planting situation. Some species thrive in full sun while others grow under shady conditions. One clover may prefer dry soils while others perform well in water-logged sites.
You can plant clover as a component of wildflower meadows or sow seed directly over your lawn. Many growers plant clover beneath fruit-bearing shrubs, vines, and trees to improve pollination and condition soil.
Clover is easy to grow from inexpensive seed. Sow in spring after the threat of frost has passed or in autumn, depending on plant species and your location. Try mixing clover into a wildflower mix or sowing as a cover crop in your fruit and vegetable gardens.
Seed can be sown directly over established turf grasses by mowing at a low setting and gently raking out any built-up thatch. Then mix seed with sand, sawdust, fine compost, or soil for even distribution and broadcast over the planting area. After sowing, water the planting site deeply and keep the soil surface moist until the clover germinates.
Clover grows very quickly, bringing with it unexpected beauty. In lawn areas, clover fills empty, brown patches and keeps lawns looking green and lush throughout the season. Plants bloom in a variety of colors, from pink and purple to deep crimson.
Flowers are produced over a long season and attract the beauty of butterflies to the landscape. Plant clover in large masses to cover bare soil or add ornamental interest in fields and weedy areas.
There are many reasons to plant clover and chief among them is soil health. Clovers produce a combination of tap roots and fibrous roots that help aerate the soil and improve friability or the loose texture of soils. Clovers can protect soil from wind and water erosion. When used as a cover crop or green manure, decomposing clover adds large amounts of organic matter to the soil.
Clover is a legume crop, belonging to the bean and pea family of plants. Legumes perform a unique service among the plant world, they fix nitrogen in the soil, transforming nitrogen gas found in air pockets of soil into organic compounds that can be used by plants. They do this by partnering with beneficial bacteria in the soil called Rhizobia, which grows in rounded nodules along the plant’s roots. Once legumes fix nitrogen, surrounding plants can use the nitrogen compounds to fuel growth.
This rejuvenates nutrient-poor soils and reduces the need for fertilizers, which saves money and protects waterways from runoff. Farmers have long used clover as a rotation among their crops. Gardeners, too, can use clover as a green manure or cover crop.
Another way to gain the benefits of nitrogen fixation is to plant clover among other plants. This can be done by incorporating clover into lawns and mixed plantings or sowing clover as a living mulch or groundcover.
In addition to fixing nitrogen, a living clover mulch provides many services. A lush green cover intercepts the sun, moderating soil temperatures and reducing evaporation. This keeps soil moist and cool. Clover also suppresses the growth of weeds, reducing the need for herbicides.
Sadly, honeybee populations are in decline. Some scientists link this loss to the eradication of clover, dandelions, and other flowering “weeds” from lawns. Planting clover in lawns and other areas is one way to help boost the honeybee population. You will also find many native bees visiting clover blossoms, including bumblebees, which are also important pollinators.
Not only will you feel good about providing habitat for native bees and honeybees, your garden will benefit from these winged visitors. Just like commercial crops, many of our fruit and vegetable crops require bees for pollination. By planting clover among our crops, we invite bees into the garden to pollinate our food which will boost yields.
In addition to pollinators, other beneficial insects are attracted to clover. Garden predators such as ladybeetles, minute pirate bugs (argh!), and lacewings feed on the pollen and nectar from clover. Tiny parasitoid wasps, which are specialized non-stinging predators, also use the nectar and pollen of clover. These predators and parasitoids feed on aphids, whiteflies, scales, cabbage worms, and other garden pests. When we plant clover and other flowers to attract these natural predators we take a big step toward managing pest problems in the garden.
When we intermix clover in our lawns, turf grasses gain the benefits of improved soil health. Clover fixes nitrogen that feeds grasses, reducing the need for fertilizer applications. Because clover helps maintain soil moisture and suppress weeds, clover lawns require less water and herbicide. Now who doesn’t want an easier-to-manage lawn?
To top it off, clover is immune to “dog patch” – those yellow rings left behind when dogs relieve themselves on turf. And clover provides a lush green carpet that is soft and cool on bare feet.
Clover lawns also provide an indirect service to our flower and vegetable gardens. Deer and rabbits prefer clover over your garden treasures. Rather than sacrificing your lettuce crop or favorite hosta, plant a buffet of clover to satisfy hungry foragers. You’ll enjoy watching deer, rabbits, and even turkey while protecting your garden.
In case you need one more reason to plant clovers, they are edible and medicinal. Okay, that’s two reasons. Clover flowers make a colorful addition to salads and spruce up stir-fries.
Steep fresh or dried blossoms in your tea for a sweet, anise-like flavor. Choose young, bright blooms for the best flavor.
Clovers also have a long history as medicinal plants. They are used as an ingredient in topical salves for pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties.
Clover is high in anti-oxidants and favored as a cleansing tea. Both white and red clover are blood thinners, so be careful and consult a physician before using, especially if you’re on medication or heading in for surgery. Clover is a powerful herb, thoroughly research specific clover species and their suggested uses before consuming.
Finally, plant clover for the fun of the hunt. There are few things more meditative than seeking out the elusive four-leaf clover. And who knows, maybe they really do bring you good luck!