Clover Seed Varieties

Clover is used in a number of ways. Many domestic animals find it palatable as a fodder. The plant's natural ability to fix nitrogen in the soil makes it an ideal companion plant for nitrogen hungry grasses. Clover can grow on a range of soil types, but may not establish as well on heavy clay soils. This ground cover can be an annual, biennial, or perennial, depending on the variety and your location.

White Clover

White clover is a variety sometimes used to seed forage pastures. White clover is a nutritious food source for all types of grazing livestock. It is commonly planted with orchard grass, tall fescue, or ryegrass. In addition to being useful as a domestic livestock forage, white clover can attract larger wild animals like deer and elk. White clover planted on its own is a good erosion control plant. White clover grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 thorough 11 and is a perennial in most of those areas. The limiting factor on white clover is rainfall, not cold. It grows as a perennial along the West Coast and east of the Mississippi River. It grows as a summer annual along the shores of Lake Superior and in Northeastern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin.

Crimson Clover

Crimson clover is listed by the University of Michigan as being suitable for replacing nitrogen in fallow fields. The flowers on crimson clover are longer than the round flowers on other varieties. They turn from white on the bottom to crimson on top. It can help reduce problems with erosion and can help reduce problems with weeds. It is also popular as a forage with livestock and wild animals. Crimson clover has taller flower stems than other varieties of clover. Crimson clover is shade tolerant, so it is a good choice for fruit orchard ground covers. As an orchard ground cover, crimson clover will minimize wind and water erosion and help reduce the need for fertilizers. Crimson clover grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 though 11. It is a summer annual in Zones 4 through 6. It is a winter annual in Zones 6 through 11. Its limiting factor is more rainfall than cold. It grows along the West Coast and east of the Mississippi River.

Red Clover

Red clover is another type of clover that can be seeded in areas that range from full shade to full sun. Although technically a perennial, it often only survives a couple of years due to disease problems. Red clover is commonly used as a nitrogen source for the following year's crop. Like other clovers, it helps to stabilize soils and reduce problems with erosion. It also can help to reduce problems with weeds and can serve as a forage for livestock and wild animals. Red clover grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 6. Its limiting factor is moisture, rather than temperature. However, this clover grows as a winter annual in the Southeastern United States and as a biennial in parts of the country east of the Mississippi River and north of Kentucky. It is a biennial on the west coast between Central California and the Canadian border.

Arrowleaf Clover

Arrowleaf clover seeded in fields, lawns, or gardens can help improve nitrogen and organic matter levels in soils. Like other clovers, it grows well as a fodder mix ground cover. It provides nitrogen to the grasses, and helps stabilize soils for livestock use. It is useful in crop rotation because of its ability to return nitrogen to the soil. It also helps to prevent wind and water erosion in fallow fields. According to the University of Florida, arrowleaf clover is an annual clover that is similar in growth requirements to crimson clover.

Keywords: ground covers, livestock fodder, crop rotation

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.