Trifolium rubens a Little Known and Under Used Perennial
August 2, 2010
Allan in Perennial Plants, Trifolium rubens, fuzzy flowers, ornamental clover, perennials, red flowers 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.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (
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