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May 2010
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Cleome, Spider Flower: characteristics, growing and planting conditions,uses and maintenance.

Cleome, also known as Spider Flower, has an unusual property, its exceedingly long seedpods. It is an annual plant. The plant is known as Spider Flower, since the seedpods develop below the flowers as the bloom progresses upward on the stalk; this gives the plants a spidery look, further increasing this look when combined with the projecting stamens of the flowers. Cleome flowers, with many opening at once, grow in airy racemes, or clusters of flowers, six to eight inches in diameter. Cleome flowers come in white, pink, or lavender. They perch atop stems that grow up to six feet high. Hummingbirds are attracted to their white, pink or red blossoms.

How to grow Cleome

– Cleome grows well in average soil located in full or nearly full sun.
– It is very drought-tolerant, though it will look and grow better if it is watered well.
– Space spider flower plants one to three feet apart.


– Sow after the last frost when the ground is warm.
– Cleomes may also be started indoors four to six weeks earlier at a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Germination time is 10 to 14 days.
– In the garden, it reseeds prolifically and should be thinned.


– Stake plants located in windy or shady sites to prevent flopping.
– Fertilize every six to eight weeks, or work in a slow-release fertilizer (or plenty of compost) at planting time.
– Tear out and discard plants in fall, after frost fells them.


Plant cleome for its height, to back up borders, in the center of island beds, or in any spot where
its dramatic quality stands out.

Cleome tolerates heat and dry weather well, and continue to look good well into the summer. Lower leaves tend to fall at the end of summer, and this can be covered by companion plants.
They make excellent cut flowers if conditioned by soaking them in very warm water, but their musky scent is sometimes not pleasant. For the same reason, you may not want to plant them near windows and doors.
Staking is usually not necessary, and they are not bothered by pests and disease. Protection from strong winds is advisable. They are a favorite of hummingbirds.

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