Spider flowers (Cleome hassleriana) are old-fashioned annuals with unusual blooms of white, pink, rose or lavender. The long stamens and clawed petals of the flowers resemble spiders, giving the plant its common name.
Spider flowers are large, sturdy plants, ranging from 3 to 6 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 3 feet wide. The fragrant flowers are 1 to 2 inches across with stamens of 2 to 3 inches. The palmate leaves have five to seven leaflets.
Spider flowers are native to South America. They grow fast and have stout taproots that anchor the plants so they do not need staking. The flowers bloom from the lower end of the stem to the top, and are followed by slender seed pods.
The Queen series of spider flowers are large plants, up to 5 feet tall, with pink or rose flowers. The Sparkler series is smaller, only 3 feet tall, with flowers of white, rose or pink.
Spider flowers prefer full sun but will grow in any type of soil. Once established, spider flowers are heat- and drought-tolerant. In Zones 4 to 7, spider flowers are treated as tender annuals. They are annuals in Zones 8 to 11, but reseed easily.
Pests and Diseases
Spider flowers are fairly trouble-free. They may be affected by fungal spots or mildews. Aphids, spider mites or whiteflies may damage the leaves and flowers.