How to Grow Crown Vetch

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Crown vetch is a ground cover plant that is excellent at slowing or stopping soil erosion. It is also remarkably easy to grow from seed.

Step 1 - Decide Where You Want to Grow Crown Vetch

Crown vetch is invasive and self-seeding so you should not plant it in a garden with other plants. It is best to choose a site that needs plant cover to protect it.

Step 2 - Prepare the Soil

Crown vetch seed can be scattered without any soil preparation. They will grow equally well if scattered on bare soil or on soil with some plant growth already.

Step 3 - Determine Seed Density

For most sowings you should use half to three-quarters of a pound of seed per 1,000 linear feet, broadcasting the seed by hand or seed spreader.

Step 4 - Germinate

Encourage germination by watering occasionally and then continue for about a month after the shoots show through.

Step 5 - Water

Once established, the vetch requires little maintenance. The plant is drought tolerant but you might prefer to water new plants occasionally after the first month.

Step 6 - Trim

Crown vetch is liable to form clumps that rise above the general level of the plant layer. Prevent this by regularly trimming the vetch with a lawnmower with the cutters set at 6 inches above ground level.

Step 7 - Admire the Look

A good ground cover of crown vetch will produce a carpet of feathery foliage and a wealth of pink and purple flowers from late spring to early autumn will improve the appearance of any area.

Step 8 - Handle Winters

Crown vetch is not a hardy plant and dies back when hit by frost. When this happens, mow the vetch almost to ground level to get rid of all the dead vegetation. The vetch will grow again in spring.

Step 9 - Allow for Better Distribution

If you want to thin out some areas because the vetch is bunched together you can try to transplant some of the dormant crowns. Dig the crowns up with as much of the root system as possible and plant them where you want them to grow. Transplanted crowns aren’t as successful as seeds but water those that start growing in the spring for the first month.

An area covered with crown vetch that is trimmed regularly is a very pleasant sight and will help reduce erosion significantly.