Contact Us Host an Event 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

Removal of Black Henbane from raised beds from Browning MT
May 10, 2010 - I am working with youth to create raised beds of native plants. Unfortunately we had a run in with a crop of Black Henbane, last year. They were already flowering by the time we tried to cut, or pull ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in the Southern California desert.
October 16, 2007 - We are located in southern California in Lake Havasu. I'm trying to landscape sloping areas. I have arrow weeds (Pluchea sericea) and want to get rid of them permanently. How can I achieve this or...
view the full question and answer

Killing mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) with propane torch
January 14, 2010 - Can I kill mesquite with intense fire, such as a 1.2 million BTU propane torch? I know mesquite bounces back from cutting at the soil line. The trees are in Elgin. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Removing bermudagrass from buffalograss in Smithville TX
May 01, 2013 - I have a lawn created two years ago with buffalo grass sod in Smithville, TX. Recently several areas of bermudagrass have started to flourish in the buffalo grass lawn. Can you recommend a herbicide...
view the full question and answer

Plants to replace Polygonum cuspidatum ( Japanese knotweed)
August 10, 2013 - I live in a heavily wooed area of Chippewa Falls, WI. Our property is covered with Giant Japanese Knot Weed. We have been trying to get rid of it for years. We are finally going to try using the dr...
view the full question and answer

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