One of my favorite August gardening joys is sowing crimson red clover (Trifolium incarnatum) seeds up and down my driveway. I look forward to the bright crimson red flower show in the spring.
Late summer is the ideal time to plant so the clover can become established before the first hard freeze. Be sure to purchase seeds that have already been pre-inoculated with a rhizobacteria coating, as the bacteria will aid in better germination. The recommended seeding rate is ¼ to 1/3 pound of seed per 1,000 square feet and planted ¼ inch deep.
Crimson red clover is an annual and is well adapted to the warm climate of South Carolina. It is commonly used along highways in the Southeast and creates quite a show in the spring. The red flowers provide an excellent source of pollen for honey bees. Many other pollinating insects also use it for a food source. Be aware that it is also a favorite of deer.
Crimson red clover is in the legume family; therefore, it’s an excellent green manure crop for soil improvement. It will fix atmospheric nitrogen gas into an available form of nitrogen for plants. The fixed nitrogen becomes available in the soil after the clover is cut and starts to decompose. Over time, the soil structure will be improved, which in turn will benefit the growth of other plants.
For more information on cover crops, please see HGIC 1252, Cover Crops.