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9 Tips for Growing Clover in the Shade

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Clovers are not just beautiful, they also have a lot of uses, especially when you grow them in your lawn.

However, these plants have slightly different growth requirements from the regular lawn grasses.

There is a grass species for almost every type of lawn, but clovers usually have specific requirements such as an increase in light exposure as well as loose soil.

What happens if you grow your clovers in the shade? Can clovers grow in the shade? Read this article to learn a few tips for growing clovers in the shade.

green clover with flowers in the field

Will Clover Grow in the Shade?

As hardy plants, clovers can grow in a wide range of light exposure, from full sun to partial shade.

Most clover varieties will grow just fine with three to six hours of daily sun.

However, clovers cannot handle every level of shade in every stage of their life cycle.

For example, clovers growing in a low-light environment may grow poorly just after germination.

This means that you can tell if your clovers can survive on the shady lawn by observing them immediately after they sprout. If they look etiolated and weak, they will not survive.

Clovers that show no sign of weakness when young will grow successfully.

However, continue studying them, especially when they are maturing and producing flowers.

Tips for Growing Clover in Shady Areas

Clovers can only grow in shady areas successfully when you put in extra effort. For example, ensure that you prevent stressors from reaching your plants. Here are all the tips that you need:

1. Plant Clover Varieties That Can Grow in Your Hardiness Zone

Exposure to light is just one of so many factors worth considering before growing any plant. If light exposure is low, you can help your clovers grow successfully by optimizing other factors.

There is no easier way to optimize the growing conditions of your plants than by growing them in a region where they grow comfortably.

For example, if you are living in USDA hardiness zone 9, grow plants that happily grow in zones 8-10.

The USDA hardiness zone preference of plants determines their temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and other needs.

If you are growing your clovers in the right zone, all of these factors have been taken into account.

Also, consider growing shade-loving clover varieties. Later in this article, you will discover some awesome varieties that you can grow in shady areas.

planting seeds in the soil

2. Get a Clover Seed Mix

Another method to grow your clovers successfully in shady lawns is to get a mix of clover seeds. The mix will have a variety of seeds that you will sow on your lawn.

When every seed germinates, the ones best suited for your lawn will outgrow the others.

While your lawn will not be fully covered in the first batch of clovers, you can sow the seeds of the successful growers back on the lawn to cover the patches.

This means that you need a lot of patience to get a full lawn. If you can’t wait for multiple growing seasons, take note of the clover species that are doing well.

Go to a store and buy just the seeds of the clover varieties performing well on your lawn and then sow those seeds.

3. Prepare the Best Soil

Before you sow seeds in a shaded area, ensure that the soil is suitable for the plants. If the soil isn’t suitable, your clovers will face a lot of challenges while growing.

Most clover varieties love soil with pH 6-7.

Also, keep the soil free from weeds and other unwanted objects.

Ensure that the soil is nutritious. You can mix compost, rotted manure, and other organic products with the soil before planting your clovers so that the plants will grow in the right soil.

Remember to keep the soil well-drained.

4. Sow the Clover Seeds

When sowing your clovers, sow a quarter to half a pound of seeds (113-226 grams) on every 1,000 square feet. Ensure that you follow the instructions as written on the seed pack.

After sowing the seeds, lightly cover them. They need a lot of energy to sprout, so help them save energy by covering them in shallow soil.

Remember that you are sowing them in a shaded place.

Plants get energy from sunlight, so help them conserve their energy whenever you can, as they are growing in a shaded lawn.

In a few weeks, your seeds will germinate as long as you water them often.

a woman watering plants using yellow sprinkler

5. Maintain Proper Soil Moisture and Nutrients

Water your clovers regularly, but don’t overwater them. Every plant loves moist soil, but soil with too much water can kill plants.

Clovers are special plants, as they are hosts to nitrogen-fixing bacteria, just like beans and peas. These plants (and the bacterium they host) will die when the soil is soggy.

As hosts to beneficial bacteria, clovers get extra nitrogen, meaning that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to feed them. However, ensure that the soil stays nutrient-rich.

When your clovers are maturing, feed them with potassium and phosphorus-rich fertilizer so that they can successfully bloom.

6. Give Your Plants Some Extra Light

Yes, your clovers are growing in a shaded area. However, you can help them by giving them access to more light.

You can do this by removing shady objects such as tall fences and wide tree canopies. You can also add light bulbs that can give the plants extra light, even at night.

Do this when you see that your plants are growing but need more light, especially when autumn approaches.

removing weeds from the garden

7. Remove Weeds When You See Them

The last thing that you want on your lawn is weeds. Weeds will prevent clovers from getting as much light as they need.

Weeds will compete with clovers for nutrients in the soil.

Remove weeds when you see them and don’t give them any chance to grow. Weeds will most likely start growing in empty patches in the lawn, so fill those patches with clovers quickly.

8. Prevent Pests From Attacking Your Clovers

Remember that if you want your clovers to grow in a shaded area successfully, you have to grow them stress-free. Pests are the worst stressors of clovers.

When pests attack your clovers, the plants will use up a lot of their energy and nutrients. Your clovers do not have a lot of energy, as they are already growing in a shaded place.

To help the plants, please keep pests off the lawn. Do your best to eliminate herbivorous insects that you can find on the lawn.

9. Continue Monitoring the Clovers

Even when your clovers are successfully growing, don’t stop monitoring their growth. Check them when they bloom to see their performance.

If the flowers of your clovers stay for over a week without falling off the plants, it means that the plants are growing successfully. Flowers fall off when the environment is unsuitable for your plants.

Your clovers in bloom are what you need to know that they are growing successfully in the shade.

Best Clover Varieties for Lower Light Areas

Remember that one of the most important tips for growing clovers in shady areas is to plant clover varieties that can grow well in shady areas.

Note that if you want to mix clovers with grasses in your lawns, you need varieties that suit being mowed. Also, sparingly sow the clover seeds so that they do not overcome the grass.

The following clover varieties will be the least stressful for you when growing them in shaded areas:

White Clover leaves in the field

1. White Clover (Trifolium repens)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 4-8
  • Height: 4-6 inches tall
  • Watering needs: Deep watering once or twice weekly.

Do you love a lawn with white flowers? Here’s a beautiful clover variety for you. This clover spreads quickly and will fill every empty patch on your lawn.

2. Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 7 and above
  • Height: Around 8 inches
  • Watering needs: Once weekly in spring, twice in summer.

This is a very hardy clover variety. It is most suitable for shaded lawns, so if your lawn is shady, this is the variety for you.

Trifolium Pratense red clover in an open field

3. Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

  • USDA hardiness zone: 5-9
  • Height: 12-18 inches tall
  • Watering needs: Water two to three times weekly, especially in the summer months.

This popular clover variety is just what you need on your lawn. It will give you pink, peach, or purple flowers.

Considering the height of red clovers, you will have to regularly mow your lawn if you want to use this variety. However, you can use them as cover crops.

Note that these clovers die as winter approaches, giving you an empty yard in winter.

If you are using them as cover crops, quickly bury them in the soil before they die. This will help them release all their nutrients back into the soil before the next growing season.

purple clover flower in the meadows

Final Thoughts

Clovers usually prefer to grow in a well-lit environment. However, when you grow the right varieties in a suitable environment, they will grow successfully.

Remember that clovers growing in the shade are already stressed, so prevent weeds, pests, and other things that can cause more stress for the plants.

When you see your clovers flowering, pat yourself on the back, as your clovers are growing successfully.


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