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The flowers may be visited by hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, many types of bees and butterflies. Bats are thought to be the main pollinator in its native tropical habitat.


ABOUT Cleome hassleriana

This tender annual grows quickly from seed to form tall, strong stems up to 6 feet tall from a stout taproot. Plants branch readily, and given enough space, can grow as wide as they are tall. The alternate leaves are palmately compound with 5-7 leaflets tapered at the base (although the leaves on the upper parts of the stems are smaller and simple). There are prickles on the midrib on the underside of the leaf and a pair of small spiny stipules at the base of each leaf petiole (some varieties are thornier than others), as well as glandular pubescence, so the aromatic foliage is slightly sticky with exudate and a foetid smell from the glandular hairs. Many people suggest the plants have a slight skunk-like scent. The lower leaves often fall toward the end of the season.


Plants bloom from early summer until frost in a dense, 6-8 inch wide, ever-lengthening terminal inflorescence (a raceme). Each 1–1½” wide individual flower on a 2-inch pedicel has 4 reflexed light green sepals, 4 clawed petals and 6 erect to spreading stamens that grow to 3-inches long with yellow-orange anthers. The petals may be white, pink, rose or purple. The flowers may be visited by hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, many types of bees and butterflies. Bats are thought to be the main pollinator in its native tropical habitat. Many types have no noticeable fragrance, while others are very fragrant, often described as a musky, sweet and pungent, or spicy scent. Cleome can be an excellent, striking cut flower if the scent is not considered disagreeable.


Each flower is replaced by a seedpod (an elongate, cylindrical 2-valved fruit filled with numerous seeds) that develops on a long narrow stipe as bloom progresses upward on the flower stalk. Wait until seed pods start to yellow if collecting seed; dry seed pods shatter read. Once the pods dry, they pop open to release the small round brown seeds. Cleome often self-seeds readily, although cultivars may not produce progeny the same as the parent plant (and after several generations all end up a pale pink color). Removing the seedpods as they develop can help limit self-seeding or spreading thick mulch over the area the following spring will reduce volunteers. Although this plant self-seeds prolifically and has naturalized in some areas, it is generally not considered invasive as it rarely persists in undisturbed areas.

Spider Flower Cleome hassleriana Organic Naturally Grown

  • Spider flower grows best in full sun in moist, well-drained soil. Although it tolerates dry conditions, watering will promote better growth and flowering but overwatering and overfertilizing causes leggy growth. Staking is usually not necessary, except in windy locations. Pinching them back when young will promote a shorter, bushier plant, otherwise they tend to be upright and columnar. Because the plants are somewhat spiny and sticky, you may want to wear gloves when handling the plants. Cleome has few insects or disease problems and is generally not favored by deer or rabbits. Occasionally flea beetles or imported cabbageworm (Pieris rapae) caterpillars will feed on the foliage.

    Start this annual indoors 6-8 weeks before the average date of last frost or seed directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Seed must be cold stratified (just like they would be if they overwintered outside) first, press the seed into the soil without covering it (this plant requires light to germinate), then should germinate in a little over a week. Wait until the soil has warmed to plant in the garden, spacing the plants (or thin if self-seeded) at least a foot apart (up to 3 feet if you want a bushier plant). Self-seeded plants need to be thinned or all will be weak and spindly.


    ABOUT THESE SEEDS: SEEDS FRESHLY HARVESTED AUGUST 19th, 2021 from right here on our Unique Creek Homestead!


    Scott & Melissa
    Unique Primtiques Custom Woodworking
    Unique Creek Homestead