Pink clover as ground cover

Last year I bought a flat of Pink Clover and went to a LOT of trouble to spread the little plants around an area where I wanted ground cover. At first they did fine;seemed to be spreading; bore those cute tiny flowers.
But last few months, the leaves have turned red.
Does that mean this is an ANNUAL???!!!! That the plant is dying? Or is it going into -- can't think of the word; my mind is going <g> - temporary inactivity? Or what else could be happening? It's July, facrynoutloud; plants should be flourishing.
Any experience out there?
TIA
HB
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On 7/9/11 12:02 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

I had my entire front lawn planted with pink clover (Persicaria capitata) more than three years ago. I also have it as a ground cover in my rose bed in back. It is growing quite vigorously and needs to be trimmed around the edges 3-5 times each year.
It does need some water. Mine is irrigated by lawn sprinklers every third day. However, it is not really a thirsty plant. Thus, I set the timer for my front lawn for fewer minutes than the rest of my garden.
I feed it generously every spring with an off-brand lawn food. In the late fall, I sometimes broadcast a generous amount of gypsum over it so that the winter rains (if we get any) will disolve the gypsum and leach it into the soil to break up the clay.
When I had some repairs done to the front of my house, the workers wore a path through the pink clover. I dosed the path with gypsum. Two weeks later, I dosed it with lawn food. The path disappeared.
In the late fall, leaves from three large trees in front (oak, liquidambar, and zelkova) cover the pink clover. This mulch helps protect the plants from frost. Any exposed shoots turn quite red. Some shoots even get frost burn despite the fact that we never really get freezing temperatures. In the spring, the pink clover grows up through the leaf mulch; and any surviving red shoots return to green.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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Formula?
 In the late fall, I sometimes broadcast a generous amount of gypsum over it so

Given that my micro-climate (SM beach) is different from yours, should I still apply the gypsum? Also: If we don't get winter rains, do I need to compensate by heavy irrigation? Last, my soil is not really clay-y, after decades of modification by previous owners and moi. So in that case, should I hold off on the gypsum?

We don't have frost, and this is MID-SUMMER, so why are my leaves turning red???
TIA
HB

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On 7/9/11 11:05 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

I go to Orchard Supply and Hardware (OSH) and get their house-brand of lawn food (27-0-6), the plain stuff without any insecticide or weed killer. It's the cheapest source of nitrogen I could find, short of ammonium sulfate (which can burn many plants). I use it throughout my garden with exceptions for roses, camellias, azaleas, and citrus. Generally, I feed my garden -- including the red fescue lawn in back -- only once a year, in the spring.
I feed my roses once a month, alternating between a commercial flower fertilizer with a systemic insecticide and ammonium sulfate. The first feeding, just as growth buds start to open, is ammonium sulfate plus iron and magnesium sulfates. Roses really like an acid soil. I stop feeding at the end of October so that I'm not cutting brand new shoots when I prune around New Year.
I feed my camellias and azaleas with a slow-acting commercial azalea, camellia, and rhododendron fertilizer. I do this after they stop blooming.
I very lightly feed my citrus every three weeks, starting in March and ending in the first half of October. They are dwarfs with three in large pots and one in a raised bed. The soil mix for all four is very fast draining, which means nutrients leach away quickly. I alternate between a commercial citrus fertilizer and ammonium sulfate with iron sulfate. At each feeding, I add two pinches of zinc sulfate. When I feed the citrus, I also give my gardenia the same feeding.
You don't need gypsum unless your soil is clay. After 38 years of working in my current garden, heavy clay is still a problem for me. Late last year, I used over 100 pounds of gypsum. Eventually, it leaches away; and the soil again becomes sticky and dense.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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Thanks much for that! I haven't been kind enough to my roses, and my lawn is -- don't ask! All advice very helpful.
Now, could you address the pink clover question:
"We don't have frost, and this is MID-SUMMER, so why are my leaves turning red?"
TIA
HB
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On 7/10/11 8:22 AM, Higgs Boson wrote:

If it's only the leaves, don't worry. It happens. They always have a reddish tinge. Sunset says that mature leaves are definitely pink.
If it's the stems too, worry. The plants are not getting established for some reason. Check your soil moisture; it should be somewhat moist but not really wet. Once it's established, pink clover is not at all a thirsty plant. Was the soil dug and organic matter incorporated before planting?
Pink clover is actually slow to get established. My front lawn was planted with about 18 inches between plants. It took almost a year to get good coverage. Even now, three years later, there are a few thin spots where I can see the soil through the plants.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On 7/10/11 8:50 AM, David E. Ross wrote:

I have a really bad cold and did not go outside to check before I wrote the above. :(
My front lawn is solid pink clover. Many stems are pink or even red, even for very vigorous individual plants.
Furthermore, many of the leaves are bright pink or red. While this might indicate a lack of nutrients or the need for an acidfier, I generally ignore it. I have patches of red or pink all over the lawn.
If it bothers you, try broadcasting a little iron sulfate over the pink clover. I would definitely not use ammonium sulfate because that will likely burn the plants; it does burn the pink clover around my roses in back when I feed the roses with ammonium sulfate. Soil sulfur might help, but it will take a long, long time as soil bacteria slowly convert it into sulfuric acide; in the meantime, you must be careful to rinse it off of all foliage.
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David E. Ross
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Higgs Boson wrote:

some clovers die back after flowering for a bit until the rains return.
if the area is regularly mowed you might want to raise the blade height as it gets dryer to let the plant shade the soil.
also perhaps add different species to the mix that are more drought and heat tolerant. the green ferny yarrows work well here in the lawn and in gardens (i much prefer them over the more coarsely leaved silvery yarrows we have that are bright yellow when they flower). the ferny kinds when left alone flower and you can get them in white, pale yellow, pink and red (probably other colors too, but those are what we've got here). i never go out of the way to water them and they do fine. in the lawn, they stay green even when the grasses and clovers go dormant.
songbird
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On 7/10/11 9:55 AM, songbird wrote:

Since Higgs Boson lives about 25-30 miles from me and since he indicated the leaves were turning red, I assume the "pink clover" is not a clover at all. I strongly suspect it's Persicaria capitata in the knotweed family.
P. capitata has pale pink flowers about the size and form of white clover. However, P. capitata definitely does not have clover-like leaves. Its leaves are larger than most clovers and are not compound. That is, it's a one-leaf "clover". The leaves are oval with a pointed tip. They are normally green with a red chevron. Sunset indicates the entire leaf might turn pink when mature. I know the whole plant turns red in the winter but does not go dormant. In fact, some of mine bloom all year long.
True clovers (at least the clover weeds in my garden) have tap roots. P. capitata does not, but it does send out additional roots along its ground-hugging stems.
This confusion between pink "clover" and true clover is why I often use botanical names. I know of several unrelated "cherries" and two unrelated "mock oranges". The tropical bulb commonly called "amaryllis" is in the genus Hippeastrum and not in the genus Amaryllis. Star jasmine is not a true jasmine, and a rock rose is not a rose.
I once read that plants shipped for commercial purposes across state lines in the U.S. had to be labeled with their botanical names to avoid confusion.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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David E. Ross wrote: ...

ah, ok, whole different beastie...

some here do not as they grow in a more sprawling habit (small white to pale pink flowers) but that is also in moist areas. the deeper taprooted clover here is a large leaved red clover.

alas, my memorisation of botanical names is very few, i pick them up when i read about a family, but then after a while they mostly fade as i get into something else.
songbird
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It was not represented as "clover" qua clover by Armstrong Nursery. The tag did explain that was a popular name. I don't have it now, so don't remember whether the botanical name was given.
HB

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