Cleome provide long lasting, big beautiful swathes of colour that makes a dramatic statement in any garden. The 'Queen' series produce flower heads that measure 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in) in diameter and the plants grow 120 to 150cm (4 to 5ft) tall. 'Violet Queen' provide vivid deep-violet flowers that are eye-catching and strongly-scented.
The spidery flowers and palm-like leaves of this beautiful plant will add a tropical look to the late summer garden. Great for adding vertical interest to a perennial border, or use as accent plants in large tubs for an exotic feel. The large, open, airy flowers have a strong scent bloom throughout the summer until frosts.
Cleome, commonly called Spider Flowers are very easy to grow, generally free of pests and considered drought tolerant. Despite that fact, however, they grow their best in moist but well drained soil and full sunlight. The long flowering period extends throughout summer and well into autumn. The spidery flowers make attractive cut flowers and the seed heads can be dried and added to bouquets.
Frost and cold winds are lethal to this elegant South American annual. If you wish to start them early in the year, do so under glass and only plant out after the danger of frosts has passed - obey these simple rules, and the rest is easy, despite its exotic appearance.
Sowing: Sow indoors in April or sow outdoors May to June.
Cleomes like good light levels and germinate most quickly if sown quite late. Start them in April, or even early May. If planted too early or if temperatures are too cold the seeds will not germinate and many will rot before they sprout. Sow indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last frost, or sow directly where they are to flower after all danger of frost has passed.
Cleome seedlings hate root disturbance, so are best grown in modular trays or deep 9cm (3 ½in) pots. These are one of the few annuals that need light to germinate, so sow them in the surface of multipurpose potting compost and don't cover them. Cleome seeds need heat, they will not germinate in temperatures less than 20°C (68°F). Place in a propagator if you have one if not place in the warmest place you can find. Water from below, standing the seed tray on a sand bed. Watering from the top will wash aside the seeds. Seedlings will usually appear within 14 days.
Pot on seedlings into 12cm (5in) pots to grow on and harden off for 10 to 14 days before planting after the last frosts. Plant them in the garden in a sunny, sheltered position once the frosts are over in May.
Seeds can be sown directly outdoors once the soil warms up in May. Prepare the ground beforehand and sow seeds thinly, up to 12mm (½in) deep. Water well. When the seedlings are 2.5cm (1in) tall, thin to 45cm (18in) apart.
Cleome plants really do need full sun to grow to their best potential. Space them generously, so they have room to grow, don't squeeze them into the normal 1ft square. Once the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, pinch out the main stem. If you leave them to their own devices, they tend to shoot up to the skies, one central stem on its own. If they are pinched out, more energy goes into lateral bud development and you get numerous gorgeous flower heads and stronger, bushier plants that will fill out to between 2ft and 3ft across
Protect the plants from strong winds and frosts, and stake as necessary. Feed plants fortnightly with liquid feed from a handheld applicator. Don’t allow the compost to become over wet. Avoid over-watering and dead-head regularly to keep the plants producing more flowers. Remove plants completely at the end of the season, but wear gloves for protection, since the stems are spiny.
Flower Borders and Beds. Cut flower. Architectural.
Cleome make excellent, long-lasting cut flowers and one of the best filler plants you can grow, but beware of the sharp little thorns when picking and arranging them.
Cleome is a genus of annual flowering plants with 170 species. Cleomaceae are a small family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales, comprising about 300 species in 10 genera. These genera were previously included in the family Capparaceae, but were raised to a distinct family when DNA evidence suggested that the genera included in it are more closely related to Brassicaceae than they are to Capparaceae.
Cleome are native to southern South America, specifically Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southeast Brazil. This ‘heirloom’ flower has been grown in gardens since 1817.
The genus name Cleome is derived from an ancient name of a mustard like plant, in reference to its seed pods.
The species hassleriana is named after Emile Hassler (1864-1937), a Swiss botanist and plant collector.
It has the synonym of Cleome spinacia, taken from the Latin spina, meaning ‘a prickle or thorn’.
Because of their unique flower clusters, these blossoms got the nickname ‘spider flower’.
Although most flowers have a multitude of meanings, interestingly the cleome flower only has the one. These flowers have stuck with their old-fashioned expression that asks the recipient to elope, or run away with the giver.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 500 Seeds Family Brassicaceae Genus Cleome Species hassleriana Cultivar Violet Queen Synonym Cleome spinosa, Cleome houtteana, Tarenaya hassleriana Common Name Spider Flower Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Flowers Scented Violet blooms, Natural Flower Time Midsummer to mid autumn Height 80 to120cm (32 to 48in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Position Full Sun in a sheltered position Soil Well-drained/light, Moist