Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 18, 2008

From: Rico, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Control of white clover (Trifolium repens)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

our yard was remediated by ARCO in Rico Colorado. they brought in soil that must have been from clover fields. the soil produces tense low growing and fast growing clover with white flowers. it is invasive and is destroying our wildflowers that are natural. how does one get rid of this and allow the wildflwers that are native to flourish? in one year it has taken over large areas that used to be native. thank you. kim

ANSWER:

This sounds like Trifolium repens (white clover), a native of Europe. It is considered a weed plant in many parts of North America. However, it's still recommended as a pasture plant in association with grasses, even though it can cause gastric distress in livestock if eaten in large quantities. It has its good points, nevertheless, in that it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and enriches the soil for other plants when it dies.

You can read the Clover Management Guidelines from University of California Davis and learn that the best means of controlling it is by hand-pulling or hoeing it. I know this doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but there are no herbicides that will kill only the clover and not your wildflowers. Soil solarization, which is an effective way to kill grasses and other weeds, is apparently not very effective for clover since it doesn't kill seeds as well as the plants—white clover has a hard seed coat that is resistant to high temperatures. Heavy mulching in flower beds can keep the population of clover under control; but if you are dealing with a meadow-like yard, this isn't going to be a practical way to approach the problem. If you add native grasses to your wildflower mix, they can help in outcompeting the clover by growing tall and shading the clover plants. Please read our article, Meadow Gardening, for more information.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Weeds from neighbor's yard are a problem.
May 11, 2015 - Our neighbor has let his front yard go wild. Many of these native wild plants are very invasive. How can I stop their spreading into our yard? There are too many to try & keep up with pulling them as ...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine from flower beds
January 25, 2009 - We just had new landscaping put in at our house. We had planting beds prepped and mulched and had Zoysia sod installed outside the beds. The yard before had small areas of St. Augustine growing and no...
view the full question and answer

Hydrilla problems in Tom Bean Lake in Mesquite, TX.
October 12, 2012 - What is the lifespan of Hydrilla in 30 acre lake at Tom Bean Tx? Does it grow spring thru summer and then hibernate thru winter ??
view the full question and answer

How to eradicate chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata)
February 10, 2008 - How do I get rid of a invasive ground covering plant called Camelion without hurting the ground so I can plant something else?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.