How to grow Cleome | HometalkMart 21, 2021
As a young plant, Cleome is an ugly duckling. The foliage is sometimes compared to marijuana in appearance. Grow up a big chunk of it and nosy neighbors might wonder if your focus is on smoking!
Cleome doesn’t start to impress until the plants are well established at some point in the summer. Until August arrives, the flowers seem to glow in the golden light of late summer.
As much as you may think Cleome is a beautiful flower, it is well worth researching every plant that you might want to consider for your garden. This may sound like a bit of drudgery, but it is a smart idea to be aware of issues related to the asset. A little research will also help you choose the strain that will work best for your needs.
Cleome’s long stamens are responsible for the common names “Spider Flower” and “Old Man’s Wiskers”.
The flowers are scented, but the foliage has a slight odor that I have described as anything from “mint” to the “aromatic scent of a skunk”. One review I read boasted that the unpleasant smell was enough of a deterrent.
The stems are another sensitive issue. They have thorn-like spines, so be sure to wear gloves when working with Cleome.
Cleome is an annual flower here in zone 6, but a perennial in zone 10 and 11.
Everything I’ve read suggests that you should grow them from seeds outdoors in the spring instead of starting them indoors. (Apparently they need soil heat to germinate indoors and don’t want to be transplanted). With our short growing season here in Southern Ontario, I am considering buying seedlings that have a good head start from a local kindergarten.
Plant Cleome in average garden soil with at least 6 hours of sun. Too much organic matter can actually result in long-legged plants.
Water the seedlings well to establish them, but after that they are drought tolerant.
Note that larger varieties may need to be staked out.
Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and hummingbird moths love these flowers.
Unfortunately, they don’t make particularly good cut flowers.
Be warned: Cleome is seeding itself so badly that it gets a bit of a nuisance, and in some cases can even become invasive.
You can alleviate this problem by removing the long, slender seed pods as they appear. However, this requires care and effort.
Perhaps it is better to choose one of the newer strains like Senorita Rosalita that produce sterile seeds.
How and where can you best plant Cleome?
This is a year that benefits from being planted in a mass group.
Older varieties, which can be tall and lanky, look great in the back of a garden. The big Cleome is a wonderful companion for ornamental grasses.
Cleome also looks great alongside yellow rudbeckia, sedum, verbena bonariensis, and zinnias.
Here Cleome are planted with pink Astilbe and Coleus.
Is this a flower that you want to add to your garden this spring?
What’s your experience with Cleome? Please share!
Would you like more information about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!