Just for fun I'm trying to propagate alfalfa as a landscape
plant. There seem to be a few feral plants along roadsides
that can stay green well into summer with no irrigation.
The flowers aren't spectacular, but pleasant to look at.
The goal is a low -(ideally, -zero) water groundcover around the
house that also fixes nitrogen. Pollinator habitat is a plus.
Anybody else tried it?
Thanks for reading,
i've used it as a green manure crop. it takes a few
years to get a decent sized plant established before
you would want to trim it. the stem part of the plant
is not pleasant to walk on so you wouldn't want this
as a lawn plant where you plan on walking barefoot.
i also used birdsfoot trefoil.
both are excellent green manure plants. can be
harvested a few times a season depending upon where
you are at.
downsides. both can drop a lot of seeds and the
trefoil is even more so able to spread those seeds
i've been removing the trefoil as it just spreads
those seeds too much. instead i am now using a low
growing creeping thyme. takes more time to weed and
is not a green manure crop, but it works much better
as an edge plant.
i didn't transplant any alfalfa but planted from
seeds. with the deep roots that alfalfa can get it
wouldn't be that fun to transplant. just get a few
seeds and then grow them. i recommend using a
nursery crop (buckwheat) when spreading alfalfa for
a larger area. the buckwheat will help keep weeds
down and protect the alfalfa while it gets
Well, I've got safflower plants coming up in great numbers where the seeds
were dropped from the bird feeder and the squirrels, chipmunks, and
ground-feeding birds failed to pick them up. After I finally run out of
seed and the animals leave the area I'll have to figure out how to clean
out all of them along with the detritus from between the river rocks that
cover the area.
I tried starting from seed, but pillbugs, snails and slugs
ate the vast majority of the alfalfa sprouts. Then I found
and gave it a try, expecting a minimal success rate.
The initial success rate was over 50%, and likely most of my
failures were from wrong (excessive) watering, as I was using
containers. Direct starts in the ground work around 75% of the
time. Growth is rapid, with blooming in a couple of months.
Root development is surprisingly good, quickly coiling in the
bottom of a 1-quart pot. The first heat test is coming up this
weekend, with 100+F temps forecast through the coming week.
It isn't at all apparent that the taproot is essential. Maybe,
but at least it's possible to set up an initial population. If
it needs irrigation for the first year that's no worse than
The risk of alfalfa becoming a nuisance seems minimal; it's
been grown around here (southern Sacramento valley) for over
a century and is still not commonplace. A spectacular contrast
to star thistle.....8-(
Thanks for writing!