Planting Alsike Clover Guide What You Need To Know

Alsike Clover A Green Manure Cover Crop

A field of alsike clover

Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum) adapts very well to many conditions. It is commonly seen on roadsides and in moist pastures and fields.

Even though it is not native to many regions where it is successfully growing. This clover type will flourish in areas where there are cool, damp areas. It is believed to originate from Sweden.

It performs best in somewhere that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight and tolerates acidic, alkaline, infertile, and poorly drained soils. Its one real weakness is dry soils, where they do not last long.

The Alsike clover can be identified by looking for three leaves that are smooth with serrated edges. The flowers are small, and a whitish-pink or bicolor will appear along the length of the stems.

The plant is found in two-thirds of the united states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Outside of these hardness zones, it may become an invasive species displacing other plants on your property.

If you are planting it on the ground with a pH of 5 or lower, you will need to perform liming on your soil to allow the plant to provide the most benefits.

Is Alsike Clover an Annual or Perennial

The alsike clover is a short-lived perennial plant that lives for two to three years.

The plant will self-seed, so you must watch out if you are trying to only grow a specific amount of them in a confined area.

Once flowering gets done, pods will begin to develop, and these pods are what contain the seeds of the alsike clover.

Being a perennial will allow it to return for a couple years, and it will also release new seeds keeping it in our gardens for much longer.

  • Alsike Clover Growth Stages

  • 1) Germination
  • 2) Seminal Taprooted Stage
  • 3) Fragmentation of the Taprooted Plant
  • 4) Clonal Growth Stage
  • 5) Flowering

Alsike Clover Fertilizer Requirments

You do not need to add any fertilizer; adding nitrogen tends to cause damage to the plant.

I actually found a lawncare trick to remove clover by adding a quick-release high nitrogen fertilizer where they were saying the clover will die in around a week.

The strong point of this plant is its ability to improve all aspects of lousy soil over multiple growing seasons.

Alsike Clover Root System

Alsike clover has a branched tap root. Small lateral outgrowths (nodules) are also usually present on the root.

This helps it t break up overly compacted soils.

Alsike Clover Seeding Rate

The total seeding rate is 3 pounds PLS per acre for a solid stand.[8]

x If you use a grass/legume mixture for a pasture, the recommended rate is 25% or 0.75 pounds.

Growing Alsike Clover

You want to lay the seeds somewhere that gets a lot of light. It will grow in partial shade but produce fewer flowers and seeds than in full sunlight.

The soil needs to have a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. If your ground is commonly extremely dry, it is not likely for the plant to survive.

Prepare the soil first. Use a spade to help break up the ground and provide better aeration. Use a garden rake to break up the dirt and level your garden plot.

Remove a quarter inch of soil, lay the seeds down, and cover them back up with the ground removed., Then soak the area with water well.

Alsike Clover Germination Time

On average, alsike clover will take 7 to 14 days to germinate under optimal conditions.

The temperature needs to be between 40 °F (5 °C) to 68 °F (20 °C) for optimum growth, and their growth is severely reduced above 86 °F (30 °C).

How Tall Does Alsike Clover Grow?

Alsike Clover will grow from 10 to 20 inches (30 to 60 cm) tall. You can add it to help prevent weeds from moving in on your garden soil.

If you are growing crops that will shade the plant, you should switch to white clover.

Alsike Clover Flower

The alsike clover and red clover are confused by many people because of their many similarities. We must look closely at the clover flowers and leaves to tell the difference.

The alsike clover leaves will have a jagged appearance, whereas red clover flowers will have nice smooth edges.

The second difference with their flowers is that there are no markings on the petals of the alsike, and the red clover petals will have a white V on them.

alsike clover floewr in bloom

How Long Does Alsike Clover Bloom

The alsike clover begins to bloom in the spring.

Once it begins to bloom, it will usually continue to bloom for several more months until mid-September. It has one of the longest bloom seasons among flowering perennials.

Remember, once we see our alsike clover in bloom, they will quickly begin to release new seeds into our garden as the flowers dry out. Depending on your goal, you may want to remove the clover before it reaches this point.

Is Alsike Clover a Good Cover Crop

They will help to minimize soil erosion in your garden.

Their fast germination and high survival rates in cooler damp areas provide multiple benefits to our soils, like keeping essential nutrients in place.

It also allows greater water penetration into the ground and overall soil development.

If by the slight chance you have horses, it is shown that alsike clover causes poisoning and a pea legume is a better choice.

Alsike Clover as Green Manure

By growing and tilling it into the soil, adding more organic matter to our soil is an easy way to help feed and increase soil microorganisms and encourage earthworms.

There will be more nitrogen naturally added to the soil. This will help reduce our need to use fertilizers in the future.

If you use the plant as a source of green manure, the added organic material in the soil helps the aeration of the soil, reducing compaction.

Having healthier soil helps keep our following planted plants healthy, reducing the chance of disease.

Pests and Potential Problems

Alsike clover is resilient against many diseases most legumes have problems with, specifically bacterial wilt, bacterial blight, mildew, and northern anthracnose.

The diseases alsike clover is susceptible to are brown and fusarium root rot, rust, crown and stem rots, seedling blight, sooty blotch, spring black stem, stagonospora leaf spot, and snow mold.

The insects that cause the most problem are Lygus bugs, aphids, and leafhoppers.

You can reduce the chance of issues by using it in a rotation with other non-legume crops and competitive annual crops to help limit diseases.


The alsike clover is a great cover crop to use when trying to improve the quality of your soil. It will help prevent weeds from moving in on our gardens while adding organic nitrogen to the grounds.

It is popular with pollinators and can be used as a source of green manure to further increase soil nutrients, aeration and tilth.

It does not survive well in droughts, so it is probably not the best cover crop to use if you live somewhere with little rainfall and many hot days drying out your soil.

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