What is Cleome?

Overview

The cleome, also called bee plant or spider plant, is a tall growing, annual flower plant from the Capparaceae (Caper) family. The plant is low maintenance and native to the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. Cleome flowers produce large amounts of nectar that attracts bees to the garden. Plant cleome along borders and in the rear of flower gardens due to their height.

Characteristics

Cleome is an annual flower plant that grows up to a height of 5 feet and produces blooms late in the growing season during the months of July through September. The stem is erect and leafy, with flowers in the color of white or pink on the end of each. The flower appears as a large, spider-shaped bloom, but is actually a group of small, complex flowers with long stamens.

Planting Location

The cleome is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 3 through 10. Cleome grows best when planted in an outdoor flower garden that has a well-draining soil and full sunlight. The plant prefers a gritty soil, and tolerates sandy soil, as it does not respond to wet roots. Cleome is a tall-growing plant that should be placed in an area with wind protection.

Care

Cleome annual plants require supplemental water when the weekly rainfall amount is less than 1 inch. Water the plant in the early morning at soil level, with a deep soaking that reaches a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Do not use overhead watering, as this will damage the blooms. Fertilize cleome plants with a slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting. No additional fertilizer is required during the growing season. Deadhead the plant regularly by removing spent flowers. This will lengthen the flowering period and prevent the plant from going to seed.

Propagation

Propagate the cleome plant by collecting seeds that form after the blooming period. The seeds are corn-shaped and fall out of the pods when they mature. Collect the seeds and store them in a paper envelope until planting in early spring. Sow the seeds directly outdoors once the ground can be worked. The seeds can also be started indoors in late winter by sowing them in a container filled with moist seed-starting medium.

Problems

Cleome annual plants are not susceptible to disease, insect or animal damage. Monitor the soil moisture level to prevent it from being too damp or dry. Protect the plants from wind and overhead water as the long stems can break from strain.

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About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.