When to Plant Sweet Clover (Melilot)
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Debbie
Posted on: September 11, 2000

I am wanting to plant some white clover (large quantity: 10 acres) and I am unsure of which time of year would be the best to plant, spring or fall. Also can the seed be sprinkled onto the area without being turned into the soil? I heard it may be possible because it is so aggressive. I live in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario.

Sweet clover or melilot (Melilotus officinalis) is a biennial hardy to zones USDA 3 to 8.

It grows in just about any soil. In acidic soil it does better if lime is added. It can be sown in fall and early spring. Sow 200 kilograms of unscarified seed per hectare (175 pounds per acre), or if you get the seed scarified, you need only 28 kilograms per hectare (25 pounds per acre). Scarification is a process by which the hard seed coats are slightly damaged to allow germination to occur more easily.

In the spring of the second year the roots are turned over.

Can the seeds be sprinkled on the surface of the soil? We have not heard of anyone trying it. In nature, of course, this is what happens anyway as maturing seeds fall to the ground. However, we would expect that the germination will not be a good compared to normal seeding. You may find that a simple disking prior to seeding is enough to loosen the soil and allow surface-sprinkled seeds to fall between crevices where nearby soil washes in after a rain.

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