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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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« Late Blooming Perennials | Main | Personalities in the Garden, Part Two. »

Trifolium rubens a Little Known and Under Used Perennial are many plants in my test garden that were purchased merely because I stumbled upon them accidentally at the nursery. Of course, it was no accident that I saw them. Some merchants strategically place new or underused perennials so that the consumer may be tempted to try something different. I like that. It is impossible to catalog and absorb all of the perennials that are available in one’s climate zone. Nurseries do us a favor when they display unusual yet eye-catching plants for our consideration. It makes the journey of the hunt a more pleasant experience.

I first saw Trifolium rubens on display last year. I was attracted first to its fuzzy texture and then to its subtle shade of light red - a rare color in the perennial garden.  It is a rather attractive tone that is neither too deep nor too intense. Such a transitional color allows me to place it anywhere in the garden without creating drama. It simply slips into place and integrates itself into the flower composition.

Photo: Jardins Michel CorbeilI tested Trifolium rubens in my own garden and in the flowerbed of a client who appreciates warm colored flowers. It performed well in both as a filler plant. It overwintered easily and re bloomed this season. Because it is commonly known as ornamental clover, I expected that it would self-seed aggressively, but it did not. However, just as a precaution, since I am at the getting-to-know-you phase and I am still unable to determine its self-seeding capabilities, I deadheaded the fuzzy blooms as soon as they were spent.

I recommend this perennial for the soft texture of its flower head. I promise that, once the large silver heads open red, there will be a strong desire to stretch out one’s hand to stroke the fuzziness. This perennial blooms June to August in climate zones 3a to 8b, in full sun to part shade, and grows 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It is attractive to bees, birds and butterflies.

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Reader Comments (11)

This is an interesting looking plant. I have never seen this in my area. I am sure it exists at one of the nurseries but I just haven;t noticed it. I like the reddish pink color.


August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

thanks for this. I love fuzzy and I love pink so I'll watch out for it.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

This is a plant I've been dying to try since I've seen it at the Highline. There it was interplanted among low grasses (Deschampsia flexuosa, Carex appalachia, and others). When the clover was not blooming, you hardly noticed it. But when it appeared, it was an event.

Let us know how it performs. I have it on a few "in the works" plans, but have not tested it myself yet. Seems to have real potential.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

This is an interesting looking plant that I have not seen yet here. I will keep an eye out for it. Thank you!

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnja

I had no idea that there were clovers grown as garden plants; this one looks charming. (It looks like a close relative of the rabbit foot clover, Trifolium arvense, that grows wild here.)

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Amazing how many varieties of flowers exist, this breed is particularly appealing. It should definitely beautify any garden if done correctly as set out on this blog..

September 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSally

I have aquired the seeds of 'Trifolium Rubens'.Although several years ago,i purchased the plant,at a local nursurie.Listed as' Trifolium Repens'.Can anyone tell me is there any difference?

May 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterterrel

Trifolium reptens is also known as spreading white clover and, in my growing zone, may be found among the blades of grass in a lawn. If someone complains about too much clover on their lawn they are referring to T.reptens.

May 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterAllan

I am so glad I've finally found this page. I've had this growing in my garden for three years and never knew what it was. This year I took off all the seed heads and dried them to plant. Even gave some away as gifts because its so beautiful and as you stated,under used. Mine is pink turning into a beautiful green. My favorite of my garden. So so happy I now know what it is and that all of my seeds will become new plants

February 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdebi

Hi Allan,

We have just started butterfly gardening and Trifolium rubens sounds like a great plant to add to our garden.

My only concern is that after a lengthy battle with the rabbits in my yard, we came to a "handshake agreement" where I would allow clover (I assume Trifolium reptens) to grow on the side of my house in exchange for a little peace and quiet in the main garden.

Although not all the bunnies followed the agreement, I was quite surprised at how many really enjoyed my peace offering. My question is, since my rabbits seem to love clover, do you think that this plant has any chance against them in my garden?


April 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian, it has been my experience that a question such as this one can only be answered by the rabbits. :-) I suggest you plant it and see what happens.

April 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterAllan

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