Green manures

Green manures are fast-growing plants sown to cover bare soil. Often used in the vegetable garden, their foliage smothers weeds and their roots prevent soil erosion. When dug into the ground while still green, they return valuable nutrients to the soil and improve soil structure.

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Mustard cliente is a good green manure. Image: RHS Advisory

Quick facts

Common name: Green manures
Botanical name: Various
Group: Annuals or herbaceous perennials
Sowing time: Late summer to early autumn
Digging-in time: Usually the spring after sowing, but some can be left for 1-2 years
Height and spread: Variable
Aspect: Most need sun, some tolerate a little shade
Hardiness: Hardy

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.