Dalea purpurea

Purple Prairie Clover

$3.00 - $18.00

1 oz.
1 lb.

Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 38
Out of Stock
Tray of 50
Out of Stock

Purple Prairie Clover is a staple legume of sunny, diverse plantings in medium to dry soils. This plant is not picky when it comes to the soil characteristics, as long as the site is well-drained. Typical habitats of Purple Prairie Clover include black soils prairies, sand prairies, savannas, and limestone glades. Before flowering, it can be easy to tell the Purple from the White Prairie Clover by looking at the leaves, which are wide on the White and narrow on the Purple Prairie Clover (see corresponding photo.) Purple Prairie Clover has a deep taproot that ensures it will last in any native planting. Previously called Petalostemum purpureum, we love Purple Prairie Clover because it can be planted in the spring, on bare soil, and will germinate without overwintering; it does not need stratification.

Purple prairie clover has a thimble-shaped flower arrangment which blooms from the bottom to the top. These purple flowers do not have a noticeable floral scent, but the flowers attract a number of pollinators. This plant is listed as a superfood for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee (see plant list). Honeybees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees, leafcutter bees, and more visit the flowers for pollen and nectar. Other insects feed on the seeds, foliage, and other parts. The Dogface Sulphur and Reakirt's Blue use Purple Prairie Clover as one of their larval host plants. Even after the flowers are done blooming, Purple Prairie Clover remains very attractive due to its ornamental foliage.

Species of genus Dalea are legumes. Most legume species harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots. Genus-specific strains of this bacterium called inoculum can aid in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and improve long-term health of native plant communities. Inoculum is naturally-occurring in most soils and additional amendment is usually not needed. However, in low fertility soils it may be necessary. Genus-specific strains are available at

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots
April/May October 1 year
Potted 3-Packs May/June September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 38* May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
Potted Trays of 50 May August 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
*This species is a choice in the Mix & Match - Create Your Own Tray!

Dalea purpurea - Purple Prairie Clover

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

10 Questions asked on Dalea purpurea

What is the average root depth for this plant?
Purple Prairie Clover is a classic tallgrass prairie species that evolved in harsh conditions like wind and tough soils, making them very drought-tolerant. For this reason, we would guess that you would find a mature plants' taproot extend many, many feet underground; the older the plant, the deeper the root. The root planting depth photo above is a 1 year old Prairie Clover, washed and trimmed. You can see in this short time how deep and stout the root becomes. Kind of related, we think this is a pretty cool study happening on prairie root systems done by our friends at the Tallgrass Prairie Center.
Will seed establish if I plant in July and keep it watered? Would this be ok for a partial shade, rocky spot needing some erosion control? (Zone 5)
We don't suggest seeding wildflowers July-Sept. Temps are high this time of summer, and perennial seedlings may not put on enough growth to survive fall frosts. Purple Prairie Clover in particular, while easy to germinate, is slow-growing the first year. It is not related to other Clover cover crops you might be thinking of that would grow fast and stabilize a slope. We would suggest a cover crop of Oats in July as a temporary cover until you can plant your long-term natives.
Does it self sow?
Hi Mary, Given optimum conditions Purple Prairie Clover could slowly self sow, but it is not known to be a prolific or aggressive self-sowing species.
Can I grow this plant in Massachusetts?
Hi Nellie, Yes, although not historically native to MA, this plant will grow in Zones 3-8.
What does purple prairie clover look like in the fall and winter, assuming it is not cut back?
There is actually a nice picture of the seed heads on the cover of this book: Prairie in Seed
Do you have any tips for germination? I've tried to grow this species from seed twice now, both with and without cold stratification, both in pots and direct sown, and have never gotten any seedlings.
Hi John. We remove the hulls from Purple Prairie Clover; if using seed from a different source, they may require scarification (see Code H). What time of year are you sowing? This species likes warm soils and performs best for us in the early summer months. Be sure to keep the soil or pots evenly moist (but not overly saturated) for best germination results. Purple Prairie Clover is a relatively slow-grower during its first year.
While these seeds to do require stratification, is it OK to scatter the seeds in late fall? Or do I get a better germination rate if I wait until spring?
Hi Amanda. Late fall is a great time to sow native seeds - even if the species does not require stratification. Unless the weather is wildly unseasonable, germination rates should not be affected, one method or the other.
Hi, Iā€™d like to start your purple prairie clover seeds in my greenhouse. Should I add inoculant to the seed starting mix? And do I need to stratify purple prairie clover seeds from Prairie Moon? Thanks
Hi Janis. We sell our Purple Prairie Clover with the hull removed, so the seed does not require stratification. Adding inoculant is up to you; we have sown seeds with and without it with similar success.
I have one seedling which germinated a month or two ago. It's still looking very fragile - leggy and thin. Should I plant it in the garden or leave it in its pot for the remainder of the year?
Hi Deb. Purple Prairie Clover can look very underwhelming in its first year. If you can inspect the root system, that is the best indicator for when a plant is ready to move outdoors.
How deep do I plant the seeds? or do I lay them down, rake in?
Hi Theresa. We like to say "plant no deeper than the width of the seed" with most natives. At about 17,000 seeds/oz, they are quite small so surface sowing in the winter, or a light raking, is all that is needed. If you plant them indoors, or in garden rows, just an 1/8" or so of soil cover is all that is needed.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2ā€ wide x 5ā€ deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
2 feet
Bloom Time
July, August, September
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code