Alfalfa
Medicago sativa

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Medicago (med-DIK-ah-go) (Info)
Species: sativa (sa-TEE-vuh) (Info)

Category:

Groundcovers

Perennials

Height:

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Spacing:

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Violet/Lavender

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Evergreen

Variegated

Silver/Gray

Chartreuse/Yellow

Other details:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Carlotta, California

Menifee, California

Jacksonville, Florida

Oakland, Maryland

Blue Springs, Missouri

Binghamton, New York

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Spicewood, Texas

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Watertown, Wisconsin

Robertson, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

2
positives
2
neutrals
0
negatives
RatingContent
Neutral

On Jun 15, 2009, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

Alfalfa grows in the wild on the northern prairie. I've seen it in fields and along the sides of dirt roads outside of my home city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Neutral

On May 28, 2008, KaylyRed from Watertown, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Alfalfa grows in an untended field beside our house (which was once a farm field). I just recently discovered what this "pretty weed" was.

The alfalfa field is definitely much more attractive than a plot full of weeds! It seems to control the weeds well, which leads me to believe it could look pretty in a field or prairie area that someone does not want to bother mowing. Comes back faithfully and robustly year after year.

The alfalfa has invaded my lawn some. It doesn't look bad when mowed down, but it certainly isn't for purists who like plush, weed-free lawns. For that reason I gave it a "neutral."

Positive

On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Beautiful plant. Pretty purple blooms. I enjoyed watching the bees bumble around the blooms. Didn't much care for really hot temps, especially when I forgot to water it.

Positive

On May 26, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Alfalfa is a wonderful plant. I allow one specimen to grow as an ornamental. The leaves become variegated as it blooms, yellow/green and white/green. After seed set, stem dies down but new ones grow and flower.

Bees and butterflies are attracted to it when blooming.

Roots are capable of penetrating through the toughest hardpan, so those with heavy clay should grow it.

Alfalfa mulch is a great fertilizer for roses; shear and use around roots.