How to Grow Cleome Flowers, The Spider Plant

Tree Branch, How to Grow

About Growing Cleome Flowers in Your Home Garden

Do you know how to grow Cleome flowers? If not, don’t you think it’s time to learn? Then, get some Cleome seeds and get growing this great flower. Often called the “Spider Flower”, annual Cleome flowers are easy to grow. This plant is a genus of 150 to 180 species of flowering plants in the family Cleomaceae. The plant produces an elegant display of spider-like flowers.  Long seed pods develop, as the upright flower blooms grow, progressing up the stem and giving it the appearance of spider legs. They are right at home in your flower garden or grown as a wildflower. Cleome plants are native to South America.

Spider plants have long, strong stems. As the stems grow, wispy flower blooms develop upward along the stem in colors of pink, magenta, and ivory. The large blooms are 6-8 inches across.

Cleome looks best planted and growing in mass along the back of your flower garden. These tall plants are also good as borders and fence lines.

While Spider Flowers make good cut flowers, they have a musky scent that some people do not like.

Cleome attracts birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats. Also, bats are frequent pollinators, too.

Cleome plants are drought and heat-tolerant.

Cleome Plant Specifications

Flower Colors: Lavender, pink, rose, and white.

Flowers Bloom: Summer to Fall

Plant Height: Plants grow 2-6 feet, depending upon variety.

Light Requirements: Full sun to partial sunlight.

Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0.

Hardiness Zone: 10 – 11. 

Toxicity: The plant is non-toxic.

Native To: South America.

Plant Type: Annual

Botanical Name: Cleome Hassleana, Spinosa

Other Names: Spider Flower. Importantly, do not confuse this plant with the Spider Plant houseplant. In fact, they are two totally different plants.

Are Cleome Plants Edible?

YES and NO. Some varieties of Cleomes are edible. If you have an interest in using this plant as food, you should research which varieties are safe for consumption.

The young shoots, leaves, and flowers are edible. They have a somewhat bitter taste. Cook them for use as potherbs. You can also cook it a vegetable or mix it in with other cooked vegetables. 

Medicinal Uses for Cleome

Cleome plants contain antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. As a result, it has many medicinal applications. Here are a few of them:

  • It is a treatment for inflammation.
  • Use it to reduce rheumatic pains.
  • Fights blood problems.
  • Use it to counteract diabetic hyperglycemia.
  • It fights malaria.
  • Treat epilepsy, convulsions, and spasms.

Light Requirements

These plants grow best in full sunlight. However, they will do well in partial shade, too. Give them at least six hours of full, direct sunlight a day. Importantly, the stalks can become lanky and fall over if there is too little direct sunlight.

Cleome Flower Plant Propagation

Ornamental Cleome flowers are grown from seed. They are prolific re-seeders. And that’s a great trait for annual plants.  Once you plant them, you might not have to re-pant them for years and years.

Sow Cleome seeds outdoors in the spring, after the last frost in your area, and after the soil has warmed up. Cleome seeds do not germinate in cool soil.

You can also start plants indoors, 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

Seed Planting Depth: 1/2 inch.

Days to Germination: 10 – 14 days

Plant Spacing: Plant these flowers 18 inches apart.

How to Grow Cleome Flower Plants

Fast-growing annual Cleome flowers are an easy to grow, low-maintenance plant.

Select a location with full sunlight to light shade. Also, choose a spot where the plants can grow for years, as these prolific re-seeders will save you the task of replanting each spring.

The plants grow well in average to good soil that is well-draining. Mix in a little compost into the soil at planting time. In average soil, the plants grow well with little or no additional fertilizer. If the soil is poor, fertilize once or twice a season with a balanced general-purpose fertilizer.

Fertilize plants once a month, with a general-purpose fertilizer.

Plants tolerate a little crowding. Weed young plants to help them get off to a good start.

Water plants evenly throughout the growing period. Established mature plants are somewhat heat and drought-tolerant. They should be fine during mid-summer. Water them only during extended droughts.

Mulch around plants to maintain a neat and tidy appearance. It also helps to retain soil moisture.

Pruning Cleome Plants

Pruning annual Cleome plants helps maintain the appearance, creates bushier plants, and prolongs blooms. Pinch growing tips of young plants. Prune away any dead leaves, stems, and branches. You can also remove seed pods, but that will take away from the “Spider Flower” look. 

Deadheading spent flower blooms will encourage new flower buds to form. If you do not want them to re-seed the planting area for next year, deadhead the spent blooms as soon as the flower has died. Trim the flower stem back to the main stem of the plant.

More on deadheading spent flower blooms.

Insects and Plant Disease

Cleome flowers seldom have insect and disease problems. Keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Apply an insecticide, only if needed.

Occasional mildew and rust problems can occur, especially in hot and humid weather. Overcrowding can also cause disease problems. 

Also see: Plant Problems – causes and cures.

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