Crimson Clover Guide What You Need To Know

Crimson Clover A Green Manure Cover Crop

A field of Crimson Clover

In the united states, crimson clover is one of the most popular annual cover plants people grow for deer. Like most crimsons, it originally came from the Mediterranean region.

It is common for many people to confuse the crimson clover with the perennial red clover. The Crimson leaves have a more rounded tip, and the leaves and the stems have more hair.

It gets classified as an annual winter legume that is very colorful. Many gardeners like to grow it for its beautiful crimson colors. Like other legumes, it will add nitrogen to your soil while growing, acting as a type of organic fertilizer.

Crimson clover has dark green leaves, growing to a height between one and three feet tall. The flowers have long heads and mature from top to bottom.

The seeds are about three times larger than many other clover types and are rounded with a yellowish tint.

A large benefit of crimson clover is how quickly they mature. Crimsons prefer cool weather and have no problem growing in poor, dry, sandy soils that most perennial clovers do not establish well.

Many gardeners like to use it to protect from soil erosion over the winter. In the next season's spring, you can use it as green manure by tilling it into your soil. It is a fast decomposing green matter making it an optimal choice as green manure.

How To Plant Crimson Clover

It does not matter what tillage system is in use. You want to plant the rye seeds between .25 and .5 inches deep. Having good seed-to-soil contact is going to help the crimson to germinate quickly.[3]

Planting any deeper than .5 inches may prevent it from being able to sprout out from the soil.

Most people use a rake to spread the crimson clover seeds over their garden plot.

The seeds need consistent moisture during this period and sprout fastest in a temperature range of 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crimson Clover Germination Time

How Long Does It Take For Crimson Clover To Germinate?

On average, it will take 7 to 15 days for crimson clover to germinate, but it can take up to 3 weeks.

How Long Does Crimson Clover Bloom

If we plant our crimson clover in the fall, it will bloom in the northeast in early to mid-May. If you grow it in the springtime, it will usually take 70 to 90 days to bloom in the growing season.

Crimson Clover Fertilizer Requirments

Since crimson clover is a form of legume, it does not need any nitrogen added to the soil for its growth. After growing it, your soil will have higher nitrogen levels.

Many gardeners get good results using a 10-10-10 fertilizer, but you do not need nitrogen for the plant's growth.

How to Protect Crimson Clover From Frost

Crimson clover adapts well to the cold, but if you would like to take extra precautions, the most common way is to use a cover as a barrier between the wind and night chill.

Using a traditional garden blanket, commercial plant tarp, or even placing a bed sheet over them can be enough to help them get through some extra colder nights.

How Do You Kill Crimson Clover In The Spring?

The two most common methods to kill crimson clover is mowing or using a burn-down herbicide for no-till plantings.

No-till crimson clover is an effective method to prevent erosion and weeds from moving in.

Rolling is currently being considered an alternative method of killing crimson clover.

Like any cover crop, the time to kill crimson clover will depend on two things. The soil moisture is the first consideration. During a dry spring, we need to kill the crop early to prevent it from causing water stress on our next crop planting.

The second consideration is when you plan on planting your next crop. You want to kill the clover at minimum one week before planting the next crop, and ideally, you should aim to kill it 2 weeks before planting your next crop.

What Are The Advantages of Growing Crimson Clover?

They will help to minimize soil erosion on your garden or farm plot.

It is an easy way to add more organic matter to your soil, helping to feed the microorganisms and improving the quality of your soil.

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

The added organic material in the soil helps to the aeration of the soil reducing the soil compaction. This will help your next crop to maximize its rooting capabilities.

Like the increase in microorganisms, adding more organic materials also benefits the encouragement of earthworms.

Crimson clover is a cover crop and will prevent weeds from moving into your garden.

Having healthier soil helps keep our plants healthy, reducing the plant's chance of disease.

It has no problems growing in poor, dry, sandy soils.


Crimson clover is a beautiful cover crop that can help you to organically increase the amount of nitrogen in your soil. Like other cover crops, it can also improve the quality of your soil by using it as a source of green manure.

If you do not want to till it directly into your garden, you can collect it and use it in your composter as a green source.

Use it as green manure after turning it over into your soil. It takes approximately 10 days for it to break down, and the ground will be ready for planting nitrogen-loving crops.

You can also use a lawnmower to trim the crimson down but keep the roots in the ground to improve the aeration of your soil. Then collect the trimmings and use them in your compost.

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