You no doubt have heard about the four-leaf clover, but few gardeners are familiar with kura clover plants (Trifolium ambiguum). Kura is a forage legume with a massive underground stem system. If you are interested in growing kura as a groundcover or establishing kura clover for some other use, this article will help.
Kura Clover Uses
Kura clover plants are not very well known in this country. It was used in the past as a nectar source for honey production. Currently, its use in grazing is on the top of the list.
Kura clover plants are native to Caucasian Russia, Crimea, and Asia Minor. However, it is not cultivated very much in its countries of origin. Kura plants are perennials that spread by underground roots, termed rhizomes. The clover is starting to generate interest in this country for use in pasture mixtures.
Kura clover uses for grazing result from the fact that the clover is nutritious. When kura seeds are mixed with grasses, the kura lasts many years due to its large, rhizome structure. However, establishing kura clover can be somewhat tricky.
Using Kura as a Groundcover
If you are wondering how to grow kura clover, it does best in climates matching its native regions. That means it thrives in cool weather about 40 to 50 degrees F. (4-10 C.). Establishing kura clover is easiest in these cold areas, and kura clover plants are more productive in cooler than in warmer climates. However, breeders are attempting to create more heat-tolerant strains.
How to grow kura clover as a groundcover? You’ll want to plant it in well drained, fertile soil. It goes dormant during dry periods unless you provide supplemental irrigation.
The biggest issue with establishing this clover is its slow germination of seeds and seedling establishment. The crop usually only flowers once per season, although some cultivars blossom more often.
Your biggest task in growing kura as a groundcover is keeping down competition. Most growers seed in the spring, like other seeded perennial legumes. It is essential not to sow companion grasses with the plant since it can easily fail due to competition for water and nutrients.