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Purple Prairie Clover plants, which are endemic to the region and have provided crucial food and medicinal supplies for human and animal populations, have been found in North America, where they are considered a national treasure. Clover plants are responsible for nitrogen fixation in the soil. Purple prairie clover planted in gardens aids in the replenishment of this critical macro-nutrient in the soil.
Purple prairie clover is grown as a green manure or cover crop, and it improves the soil’s fertility after being tilled back into the ground. This plant almost grows on its own, and its use by you and your garden is very important to the health of your garden and the quality of your soil.
About Prairie Clover Plants
Purple prairie clover plants (Dalea purpurea) are perennials that develop erect, stiff stems and bloom from May to September. Purple prairie clover plants are native to North America. The blooms are a vibrant purple color and develop as fuzzy cones at the tops of the stalks where they bloom. These blossoms are seductive to bees and other pollinators, who flock to them in large numbers.
The clover plant thrives on sandy to alluvial soils in its natural habitat, needing minimal water after the plants have been exposed to spring rainfall. Clovers have a deep, branching root structure that is ideal for erosion control and soil stabilization. When the roots are pushed back into the soil, they also help fix nitrogen and enhance the porosity and tilth of the soil.
Growing Purple Prairie Clover Plants
Clover flowers are hermaphroditic, which means they contain both male and female components in the same bloom. Clover seeds must be stratified before they may germinate. By chilling the seed for three months and then planting it in the spring, you may save time and money.
Alternatively, you can buy seeds that have already been chilled. In nature, the seeds will naturally experience this frigid time over the winter and then sprout as the temperatures rise and the first spring showers fall on them.
Prepare a bed with enough compost added and sufficient drainage to use as a foundation. Remove any weeds that are competing with the plants and scrape away any obstacles. Seed should be coated with a light dusting of soil or a thin layer of 1/16 inch (0.2 cm) of soil.
Maintain a reasonable level of moisture in the area until germination occurs. Sprouts will appear between 14 and 30 days after planting. In grasslands, fields, ditches, slopes, or even simply in your vegetable garden, this plant may be beneficial.
Care of Purple Prairie Clover Plants
Growing clover is one of the easiest plants to cultivate, as long as you have well-drained soil. It does not matter what the pH of the soil is, but it does need full light. Mulch should be placed around the bed to help it retain moisture.
There is no need to prune the plants, although you may mow them if you want to make green manure, in which case you can only till in the leftover greenery. Purple prairie clover does not need fertilization, and it just requires supplemental moisture during the first several weeks after planting to develop.
Even though rust may develop on the leaves of this kind of clover, there are ways to prevent it by limiting overhead watering and irrigating only after the foliage has had enough time to dry out before sunlight strikes the leaves.
Planting Purple Prairie Clover from Seed
It is a herbaceous perennial that grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea, originally Petalostemum purpureum) grows as a perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. The clover, which grows 1 to 3 feet tall with a spread of 1 to 1 1/2 feet, is a popular choice among homeowners because of its stunning purple blooms that attract butterflies and its capacity to withstand drought.
However, because of its large, fleshy taproot, the plant is unable to withstand drought, making transplantation difficult. Sow the purple prairie clover seeds directly into the ground where you want the plants to grow to reduce transplant losses.
1. Break up at least the top 6 to 8 inches of soil in a growth spot that gets direct sunlight and, ideally, has sandy loam or another well-drained soil.
2. If the site’s drainage is inadequate, incorporate 2 to 3 inches of organic soil amendment, such as aged manure or compost, into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil to improve the drainage.
3. Scratch the coatings of the purple prairie clover seeds by rubbing them gently between two pieces of sandpaper for a few minutes or shaking them quickly inside a glass container until the seed seems to be a little dull in appearance. Known as scarification, this procedure mimics the natural wear that occurs on the seed coat, which is important for the seed to soak in water and germinate successfully.
4. Evenly scatter the purple prairie clover seeds over the soil surface in the designated planting area.
5. Cover the purple prairie clover seeds with approximately 1/4 inch of soil to protect them from the elements.
6. Use a sprinkler or hose with a nozzle that has either a misting or gentle sprinkling setting to water the seeds in softly. Irrigate the location as often as necessary until germination begins, making sure that the soil surrounding the seeds never becomes entirely dry.
7. Maintain a temperature range of 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit around the seeds throughout the growing process, if at all possible. When chilly nights or days are forecast, cover the seedbed with plastic sheeting to help keep the temperature within the appropriate range of temperatures. Seeds of purple prairie clover should germinate in between 14 and 30 days if all other circumstances are favorable.