Cleome, also known as spider flower, is an annual flowering plant native to tropical areas around the world. It is typically grown as an ornamental garden plant and is prized for its delicate blooms and lacy foliage. Cleome flowers bloom in summer through fall and come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, pink and violet. Cleome is very easy to maintain, and healthy plants will attract bees and butterflies to the garden.
Plant cleome seeds in the garden in fall or early spring when the ground is still cool. Select an area with well-drained, humus-rich soil, which receives full sun to partial shade. Seedlings may be planted in spring after the last frost. Space cleome plants one to two feet apart, and water thoroughly immediately after planting.
Water cleome once per week in dry areas and once every ten days in cooler climates, but only if the rainfall is less than one inch for that time period. Cleome is very drought tolerant and doesn't need excessive watering to thrive.
Feed cleome plants once every two months during spring and summer using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer or similar. Fertilize once per month if the soil fertility is extremely poor. Cleome is tolerant of poor soils, but the addition of fertilizer will increase growth and blooms.
Stake cleome plants in the early summer to help them survive rainstorms and winds. Their growth can become leggy near the base of the stem, making them vulnerable to harsh weather and damage from storms. Tie each plant to a tall stake in two or three places using garden string for the best results.
Remove cleome seedpods after flowering to prevent self-seeding, or remove volunteer cleome plants which pop up the following spring. Let the plants freeze in fall, and start new plants in spring, or let them seed and grow the newly seeded plants the next year.