Cleome gets it’s nickname “Spider Flower” from the spidery-like flowers with long, waving stamen which are held on tall, strong leafy stems. It is one of the few annuals that looks at home among shrubs and perennials. Planted in mass, they look like blooming shrubbery with 8-inch balls of blossoms. They will reach a height of 6 feet in a good season. Violet Queen (pictured), Cherry Queen, Pink Queen and Helen Campbell (white) are among the most popular cultivars.
Start seeds indoors four weeks before the last frost or plant them directly outdoors in spring after danger of frost has passed. Germination takes about 10 days. Space the plants about 1 foot apart. They will often reseed themselves. The seeds will lie dormant until spring. Hybrids will not breed true.
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.