Does your farming plot suffer from nitrogen deficiency? The best way to organically treat this problem is by planting clovers. Clover is a legume that shares a symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms. Resultingly, it can absorb atmospheric nitrogen to feed itself. Though low-maintenance, clovers too require some fertilizers to grow optimally.
Feeding the right kind of fertilizers ensures a longer lifespan of perennials such as white and red clovers. With the proper nutrition and care, you can make your clovers last for over five years. A perennial such as non-typical clover demands more care than the other kinds of clovers. Therefore, you must have an extensive and clear understanding of the species you are growing and the type of care under which it will thrive.
If you have been growing clover and detect some nutrient deficiency, you will need to supply them through fertilizers. In this guide, you will find the best techniques to feed clovers and the kind of fertilizers they might need. We have also consolidated a short list of the best fertilizers for a clover that you can get along with answers to a few frequently asked questions about clover farming.
Fertilizer Requirements for Clover Cultivation
Clover is one such crop that does not require a lot of fertilizers to grow correctly. However, there are some cases when you detect symptoms of specific nutrient’s lack in the crop. Even in such cases, clovers mostly only require fertilizers that provide them mild nutrition. The nutrients that clovers generally externally need micronutrients, sulfur, phosphorous, and potassium.
Nitrogen Content in Fertilizers
The very first fertilizer requirement that clovers have is that it should not contain any nitrogen. This is because clovers are exceptionally great at absorbing nitrogen for themselves. In case the soil that they are glowing on does not provide enough nitrogen to the crop, they can absorb it from the atmosphere. If the fertilizer you use has nitrogen, an excess of this nutrient will do more harm than good to the crop.
Potassium and Phosphorous Content in Fertilizers
To sustain healthy growth, what a clover plant needs are a large amount of potassium and phosphorous. These are the two primary nutrients that you need to be on the lookout for to grow healthy clovers. With the help of the right NPK (Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous) ratio of the fertilizer, you can get healthy clovers in your plot.
Another essential thing that clovers require is organic material in the soil. If you feel that the crop is not growing correctly in your plot, you will have to do a soil test. This test will help you determine the micronutrients that are absent or lacking in the soil. Once you have the correct information about the soil composition, you can supply the soil with the right micronutrients according to your needs.
Micronutrients such as sulfur and boron are essential in the clover growing experience. In case you see that your clovers are stunted or have a low number of nodules, you can be assured that your soil needs more sulfur. Lighter colored veins and thin petioles and stems are other symptoms of sulfur deficiency.
You can use a fertilizer that has calcium sulfate or elemental sulfur in it. This is enough to restore the sulfur balance in the soil. With a fixed sulfur level in the soil, you will notice that the number of nodules will increase in the crop, and the color of the leaves will become brighter.
Boron is the second most crucial micronutrient that is crucial for healthy clover growth. Boron deficiency generally develops in the initial stages of white clover cultivation. However, other life-stages of multiple clover species can indicate a lack of boron on the soil.
If you see that the first trifoliate leaves are imperfectly shaped and are smaller than usual, you can be sure that you need more boron in the soil. In older unifoliate leaves, you can evaluate boron deficiency if the leaves have red tints over them. Clover leaves that suffer from boron deficiency tend to have necrotic margins. The colors of such leaves are absent on the top-side and are dramatically pronounced on the underside.
You can add fertilizers that have sodium borate in them. However, you must proceed with caution since an excess of sodium borate is toxic to plants.
Other than sulfur and boron, clovers also require decent doses of copper, zinc, iron, and manganese. With the help of some symptom detection and soil test reports, you can detect if you require the addition of any of these nutrients in the soil. To fix their deficiency, you can opt for a fertilizer that combines the micronutrients that are lacking in the soil.
Soil acidity is a good determiner of how your crop is going to turn out. Most clovers require soil pH to be between 6 and 7. However, the kind of soil acidity that is perfect for your plant depends on the clover that you are growing.
If you are growing red clovers, a mildly acidic environment with a pH of about six is excellent for optimum growth. However, sweet clovers require about 6.5 levels of pH in the soil to thrive. In case you are growing white clover, your soil will need to have a pH level as low as 5.8.
A practical soil test will help you figure out the pH level of your soil. In case you need to increase the acidity of the soil, you could either add pure lime or choose a fertilizer that has lime in it. In case your soil has a pH level over 7, you will need to increase the acidity by using fertilizers that have either aluminum sulfate or sulfur.
Varieties such as Egyptian clover and white clover are susceptible to the pH level of the soil. While an unbalanced pH level might not significantly influence the crop’s physical appearance in the soil, its internal properties are drastically affected.
When to Fertilize a Clover Plot
The best way to know when to fertilize your clover is by getting the soil tested. If the report tells you that some nutrients are missing or lacking in the soil composition, you surely need to use a fertilizer. However, you can also determine when to use a fertilizer by checking your clover produce’s health.
Best Time to Use Fertilizers
You can use fertilizers on clovers at any time of the year if your crops require immediate attention. However, fertilizing the soil between April and June is perfect for annual maintenance. Springtime is ideal for any crop’s growth, clovers being no exception. Therefore, when the spring months arrive, it is best to give some extra nutrients to the crops to aid their healthy growth.
In case your crops require frequent fertilization, using fertilizer between September and November is perfect. This is because the fall season is the time when plants might lose nutrients and growth. With proper nutrient supplements, you can prevent the harm that the harsh season can do to your crops.
It is crucial to note that the minimum time between each fertilization is maintained. The minimum time to be maintained is six months. Using any kind of fertilizer before six months can risk the clovers getting excess of nitrogen or boron. Any kind of excess will only harm the clovers in your plot.
Any type of soil requires at least a few weeks to inculcate the nutrients you have supplied through a fertilizer thoroughly. Only when the soil has imbibed the nutrients that the clovers will be able to benefit from the new soil composition. Therefore, six months is the minimum time for which fertilizer will help your crops thrive.
Analyzing Clover’s Growth Before Using Fertilizers
The clover’s growth and health should be the primary determinant of when you are supposed to use fertilizers. Even if the soil composition is unbalanced, if your clovers do not show any signs of nutrition deficiency, there is no need to use fertilizers. Remember, it is always best to let plants grow naturally, while fertilizers only give them a boost.
Symptoms such as yellowing leaves, fewer nodules, discoloration, uneven vein coloration, and stunted growth indicate malnutrition in clovers. In case of any of these or other symptoms’ visual occurrence, it is best to provide the extra kick that your plants require. However, if the clovers seem to be in perfect health with the right coloration, texture, and size, it is best to leave them alone and adjust to the soil’s composition.
How to Fertilize a Clover Plot
Various kinds of fertilizers are available in the market. Each type of fertilizer has a different application procedure. However, the best fertilizer for clover is not sprayed over the soil or the crop but rather mixed in the soil itself.
To properly fertilize your clover crops, scoop the soil around and between the crop with a spade. To avoid disturbing the crop, you can take out bigger scoops from the surrounding areas and smaller ones from between the crops. Distribute the fertilizer evenly between all the scoops and push soil over it.
If you have a large area to fertilize, our recommendation is to buy a broadcast spreader. Getting this equipment is more like an investment due to its ease in the fertilization process. This is because it can hold a large amount of fertilizer. It then quickly spreads the material on the ground as you push the spreader over the fertilizer area.
Once you are done with the fertilization process, let the crops be. If the plants do not show any signs of malnutrition throughout the year, you can wait to recheck the composition. Annual re-fertilization is necessary, especially if sensitive variants such as white clovers are grown close to other plants.
Choosing the Right Fertilizer According to Your Plants’ Needs
Before choosing a fertilizer for your clover plot, it is necessary to consider the kind of nutrients that your plants need. You will find the different symptoms that clovers show while they face a nutritional deficit in the fertilizer requirements section. A close study of the soil’s composition will also give you an idea of the nutrients that your soil requires.
Clovers are good at nitrogen absorption. Therefore, the fertilizers that you use should either be devoid of or have low nitrogen content. However, a fertilizer that has high phosphorous is suitable for soil. Having good potassium content in the fertilizer is also crucial for the plant’s optimum growth.
The recommended NPK ratio for clover fertilizers is 0-20-20.
Other than the NPK ratio, you must check if the fertilizer has other nutrients such as sulfur, zinc, and boron. Check the soil composition to see the kind of micronutrients that the soil requires. Make sure that the fertilizer you use adds those particular lacking nutrients to the soil’s composition.
In case the soil’s acidity is compromised, you must also make sure that the fertilizer can fix it. However, it is necessary to note that clovers do not require a lot of fertilization in the first place. Therefore, using too many chemicals at one go might also be detrimental to the crop.
Use only the fertilizer that can add value instead of adding extra chemicals to your crop.
The 5 Best Fertilizers for Clovers
Given below are five of the best clover-friendly fertilizers that you can buy from Amazon. These fertilizers are great for clovers because they have zero to no nitrogen composition in them.
1. Espoma 6# Potash
NPK ratio – 0-0-60
Potassium is a necessary nutrient for healthy clover growth. Visible potassium deficit symptoms include a massive drop in clover growth and white spots on the leaves’ outer margins. Potassium deficit leads to necrosis or deadening of the leaf’s outermost margins.
The Espoma 6# Potash is an excellent way of introducing potassium supplements to your soil. This fertilizer promotes plant vigor and increases immunity to diseases. A great thing about using this product is that it is easy to apply to the soil due to its granular texture.
- High source of potassium
- The granular texture of easy application
- It does not have anything but potassium. Therefore, you will need to add other fertilizers to overcome other deficiencies.
2. Fox Farm Big Bloom Liquid Concentrate Fertilizer
NPK ratio – 01-30-70
If your clovers require an organic addition of phosphorous and potassium, this is a good option. This fertilizer provides the two necessary nutrients without any addition of nitrogen to the mix. This fertilizer incorporates high-end ingredients such as rock phosphate and kelp along with bat guano and earthworm castings.
This is a genuinely organic supplement for optimum plant growth. An essential reason for using this fertilizer is that it has the complete range of nutrients required for clover growth. These nutrients are made available slowly to the crops for optimum growth. Since this fertilizer has a safe formula, it can be used very frequently if required.
- Low nitrogen
- Organic source of necessary nutrients
- A liquid formula that has to be applied with water can affect the evenness of the application.
3. Liquinox Bloom
NPK ratio – 0-10-10
This no nitrogen formula is great for blooming clovers and fruiting plants. The lack of nitrogen makes it perfect for clover plantation. It is a liquid fertilizer that needs to be fixed in water. However, you can not use it while watering your clovers. You can add it to the other fertilizers that you might be using in your plot.
- Zero nitrogen
- Good source of potassium and phosphorous
- Liquid formula
4. Jobe’s Organics Bone Meal
NPK ratio – 2-14-0
This is a good fertilizer if your plants need excessive phosphorous. It is a rich source of phosphorous and calcium for plants. Since this fertilizer is certified organic, its formulation does not include any synthetic chemicals.
The phosphorous in this fertilizer provides strength and healthy roots to the clovers. The nitrogen content might be detrimental, but the composition is so less that it can be used for optimum phosphorous supply. However, this fertilizer should be used with caution in clover plots.
The best time to use this fertilizer is in the fall season. It has a coarse texture that makes application easy.
- A high content of phosphorous and calcium
- Granular texture makes it easy to apply.
- Slight nitrogen content
5. Miracle-Go Water-Soluble All-Purpose Plant Food
NPK ratio – 24-8-16
This fertilizer must only be used in clover plots if the plant is not getting nitrogen. That is a rare happening, but it is possible in some regions. This is short-term, but it should be used as infrequently as possible due to the high nitrogen content in the case of clovers.
Other than clovers, it is an excellent fertilizer to be used on houseplants and blooming flowers. It has a semi-granular texture than is soluble in water for easy application.
- Decent potassium content
- Easy to apply
- Good for emergencies
- Extremely high nitrogen content
The Best Fertilizer for Clover Plots
Therefore, every plot has different soil composition and requires different nutrients to grow to their full capacity. However, from the above-given list, the best fertilizer seems to be the Liquinox Bloom in terms of the nutrients provided. In terms of easy application, the Espoma 6# Potash is a great option if your clovers require extra potassium.
The other fertilizers that are either mentioned or not mentioned in the list above serve different purposes. The best fertilizer for clovers is not a one-size-fits-all type of product. Therefore, you must choose the fertilizer that will fulfill the requirements that your clover plot has.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we will give answers to come of the most asked questions about clover plantation.
1. What is the Recommended Frequency of Mowing Clovers?
Mowing clovers is necessary to make sure that insects such as bees do not infest the crop. The frequency of moving a clover plot is dependent on rainfall. However, the optimum rate of mowing clovers is four times a year. Therefore, you can trim your clovers once every three months.
2. How Long Do Clovers Take to Sprout?
Clovers are quickly establishing plats. Once the seeds are evenly and correctly planted, they do not take more than three days to establish. If the temperature is about 60o F, clover plants will take less than a week to germinate and sprout.
3. Is the Summer Season Harmful to Clover?
Different species of clover have different blooming seasons. However, most clovers begin proliferating in the spring season and continue to grow for a few consecutive months. The summer season is beneficial for crimson clovers that bloom in warmer months, such as April.
4. How Do I prevent Clover from Blooming?
The best way or organically getting rid of clover is by using a thick layer of mulch. This layer will keep the seeds from germinating into the surrounding flower or fruit farm. However, if the clover has already taken root in your plot, you must keep it from germinating by either using a herbicide or manually pulling out the plant’s roots.
5. Is There a Risk of Clover Taking Over My Lawn?
It is a widespread belief that it will hijack all the space once you grow clover near your lawn. However, this is a myth since clover does not take over the space it is not required to. In case you are still worried, applying a thick layer of mulch on the clover plot’s borders will prevent it from growing outside its limitations.
Clovers are a great way of reducing one’s carbon footprint. These plants are great for naturally restoring the soil’s nitrogen level, which produces healthy plants in the future. The best part of growing clover is that it out-competes broadleaf weeds that are a nuisance to home farming.
Clovers do not generally require fertilizers to grow efficiently. However, in case they do, they require nutrients such as phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, boron, zinc, and copper, among others.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.