Also known as Spider Flower, cleome is an annual with more than 200 species in the wild and only one being grown in home gardens. This flower is a great plant for beginner gardeners because it is easy to grow. It reaches heights of 6 to 8 feet tall with 8-inch pink, rose or white balls of blossoms from early summer through midfall. Cleome makes an excellent border plant and can be cut for use in flower arrangements.
Prepare your soil for planting about one month before the last frost, choosing a location that gets full sun with partial shade in climates with really hot summers. Cleomes can grow in just about any type of soil, but prefer well-draining soil. For poor quality or heavy clay soil, mix in equal parts of organic matter and peat moss.
Sow the seeds directly into the garden area a couple weeks after the last frost when the soil is beginning to warm up. Space the seeds about one foot apart. Gently press the seeds into the soil; do not cover with soil.
Water just to dampen the soil, being careful not to wash out the seeds. Keep the damp and do not let the soil dry out.
Germination will take from 10 to 14 days. Once seedlings are approximately 6 to 8 inches tall, apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch about the plants. This helps to hold moisture in and keep the soil cool, while controlling weeds.
Fertilize your flowers with an all purpose liquid fertilizer. Water well after using and feed your plants every six to eight weeks. Or you can apply compost at the time of planting to eliminate the need for fertilizing throughout the growing season.
Encourage bushier plants by pinching back the top the seedlings about one inch. Once your plants are flowering deadhead on a regular basis to encourage new blooms and to keep the plant from reseeding. Cleomes are known for reseeding and if dead blooms are not cut off you may find new plants throughout your garden.