Botanix – A journal about plants and gardening

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The cultivation of the Four Leaf Clover - (Marsilea quadrifolia)


The Four Leaf Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) is a water fern of which the leaves look like clovers. Do you think that the terms water fern and clover has nothing to do with each other? On the contrary – both of these terms describes the characteristics of these unusual very decorative and practical unknown plants in the gardening world.

The Four Leaf Clover has long rhizomes, which makes one think of shoelaces. Leaves that float on the water, grow from the rhizomes. These leaves are divided into 4 parts, resembling four-leaf clover. When you take the rhizomes out of the water in the autumn, small little objects are seen (it looks like small beans). It is sporocarps in which there are spores – from there the conclusion that these plants stem from ferns. The Four Leaf Clover grows in still standing water, rich in nutritive substances, on all continents, except South America.

In America, this plant is considered an intruder plant. In Slovakia, this plant grows on 7 places on the banks of the river Latorica. In former days, it appeared in the area of the River Bodrog, Laborec and Uh.

In tropical areas there are some related species, these are sometimes grown in aquariums.

The Four Leaf Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia), subject to cultivation, is not a demanding plant and is more than satisfied with any pot as long as it is filled with water and a little soil at the bottom. You can grow this plant without any trouble in a pot of 20×20×20 cm, but ideal size of the pot is 60–80 liters or more. You can also keep this plant outside during the whole year (as it is frost tolerant). Since it is not a demanding plant, and easy to grow, anyone can grow it.


The Four Leaf Clover will grow the best in a garden pond. Just put little soil from your garden at the bottom of the pond – then place a rhizome into a soil. After this, very little care is needed, as the Four Leaf Clover will look after itself. The Four Leaf Clover will adapt easily to the water level and the quality of the water is of no concern for the plant. You can grow it in several depths (5–100 cm) – the plant’s stems will adapt itself to the depth of the water until its leaves float on the water. You can help the plant spread by splitting up the rhizomes. A little rhizome (around 10 cm) is more than enough to create a carpet of Four Leaf Clover on the water.

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Saturday 12th June 2010 21:09 | print | Water and aquatic plants

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