Clover, a widely cultivated plant used for forage, cover cropping, and even as a part of lawns, presents varying growth patterns. Multiple factors, including the type of clover, planting conditions, and environmental factors, can influence the time it takes for clover to sprout and develop.
What is Clover?
Clover is a low-growing grass, which, in the present time, is becoming increasingly popular as an environment-friendly alternative to turf grass. Moreover, the annual or perennial grass needs little maintenance to grow and look green even in dry weather, unlike the traditional grass.
That’s why clover, especially white clover (Trifolium repens), is commonly used for low-maintenance landscaping.
Homeowners just recently saw its useful lawn feature, and it drew a lot of attention for its good qualities. For example, clover has the excellent ability to increase the nitrogen in the soil, which makes the soil more fertile.
Therefore, these plants don’t need synthetic fertilizer, which is both budget-friendly and environment-friendly. Besides, clover is more drought-resistant and requires less water during a drought.
For those who want their front yard lawn to be a meetup place for different kinds of creatures, clover is an ideal alternative to traditional grass and turf. The flowers of clover welcome little unharmed creatures and pollinators to the lawn, such as bees, butterflies, rabbits, etc. This is a dream for somebody who loves nature more than anything else.
While you may see everywhere leveling it as invasive, these plants are non-toxic to humans. This means it poses no harm at all.
How Long Does Clover Take to Grow?
In general, clover only takes a few days to sprout in the right temperature and environment. However, when the temperature and environment are inappropriate for clover, it can take more than a week.
Clover gets the most suitable atmosphere when you sow it in spring through early autumn. In the middle of this long period, rain becomes inevitable, and one can expect rain to fall at any moment. This can facilitate the clover to germinate more than anything.
However, to grow into a complete establishment, clover needs a long period of time. The specific time for establishment varies depending on the type of clover, soil type, and environment. Normally, it can take a few months to a span of one season or a bit more for clover to grow fully and establish a mature clover lawn.
However, bear in mind that clover has a specific growth pattern. It becomes dormant (inactive) during the winter but starts growing again in the spring. Around the time of its full growth, one needs to take care of them and mow regularly.
That said, clover usually requires less frequent mowing than other traditional grass. The reasons are many. However, the most vital one is that clover grows and thrives at a slower rate than conventional grass.
How Long Does it Take for Clovers to Flower?
Before gaining the ability to bloom, clover reaches maturity after a phase of vegetative growth. Even before that, the plant first initiates flower buds at the tips of stems in response to factors like day length, temperatures, and plant maturity.
This triggers the transition from vegetative growth to reproductive growth. So inside those flower buds, tiny little flowers develop and eventually bloom.
Different varieties of clover require varied time spans to bloom. Red clover starts blooming approximately 10 weeks after sowing seeds. In general, you can expect most of the clovers to bloom within 4 months. Some clovers indeed take less time to start blooming, such as arrowleaf clover and subterranean clover.
Moreover, other factors also impact faster bloom times for clover. Warmer temperatures, sufficient fertility in the soil, and sufficient moisture shorten the flowering. On the other hand, cool conditions, drought stress, or inadequate nutrition can delay flowering.
What Factors Influence the Growth of Clover?
Many factors can potentially impact the growth period of clover. Therefore, some clovers can experience faster growth, while other clovers take some time. Here are important factors that highly influence the growth of clover.
When other types of grass grow alongside the clover, those grasses get involved in competition with the clover for essential resources, such as nutrients, water, and space. This competition can limit the resources available for Clover, potentially slowing its growth.
Additionally, some of those grasses may grow and shade clover grass. This can limit the sufficient amount of light clover requires for photosynthesis and overall growth.
Proper Soil Moisture
Adequate soil moisture influences clover growth in a positive way. Without enough moisture in the soil, clover may experience different challenges. One such challenge is experiencing stress in the time of drought.
This stress can result in the death of incipient branches, which are the early stages of new growth. Lack of water affects the plant’s ability to develop new branches and maintain existing ones.
Besides, the soil’s moisture level is important for maintaining the health of the root system of clover. Lack of moisture in soil impacts the root badly, which, as a result, may not absorb nutrients and water from the soil.
Animal treading is another important point that badly affects the growth of clover and any other grass. Just like other plants, clover also has growing points where new plants are developed. Animal treading terribly damages these growing plants of the clover and limits the plant’s ability to produce new growth.
By chance, heavy and excessive treading can also cause soil compaction, damaging the root of clover as clovers have shallow roots. If roots are damaged somehow, the growth of the whole clover can be stunned.
Clover is relatively tolerant of trampling or treading compared to other forage species, but excessive animal traffic will still cause harm. Prostrate varieties better tolerate trampling.
Species and Variety
Different species and varieties of clover have varying growth rates and life cycles. Some clover species are annuals, completing their life cycle within a year, while others are perennials, persisting for multiple years.
Some clover species, like white clover, grow low and spread by stolons, while others, like red clover, grow more upright.
Clover Plant Aftercare and Maintenance
Clover plants only need a little care and maintenance after seeds are sown. This is one of the points that give clover edges over traditional grasses.
While most of the clovers can tolerate the drought, it can hamper the proper growth of the plant. That’s why it is important to keep clovers moist in the dry season and try sowing the seeds in the season of regular rain.
Clover prefers slightly acidic and well-draining soil. So, ensure that the potting mix or soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging. Moreover, clover normally prefers partial shade for healthy growth.
As for the light requirement, partial shade or partial sun is the most suitable condition for the clovers. However, they can tolerate full sun as well, just a bit off-putting for growth. If under the full sun most of the time, water the plant regularly and keep the plant evenly moist.
As far as fertilizing is concerned, clovers don’t need chemical fertilizers at all. This is why choosing clovers is effortless and budget-friendly for people who can’t manage turf grasses.
If you have sown the clover seeds in the right season and the proper environment, clover can rapidly sprout and establish an excellent ground cover, similar to red creeping thyme. It can indeed be quite an excellent ground cover option for those looking to replace turf grass in the lawn. It costs less, needs less maintenance, and other benefits.
In short, the key factors for quick sprouting include proper soil preparation, suitable temperatures, and the right sowing methods. Remember to maintain the necessary soil pH, distribute the seeds evenly, and keep the soil moist during the germination phase.