Unique Annual For Flowerbed Backdrops

It’s fun to grow things that cause passersby to stop and point. All flowers are nice, but some are unique and uncommon enough to stir curiosity.

One such flower is cleome. (Usually pronounced klee-ohm, or less often klee-OH-mee.) Nicknames include spider flower and grandfather’s whiskers. It’s one of our long-time favorites, and great for flowerbed backgrounds, where taller types are wanted.

  • Cleome is an annual, easily grown  from seed. We start ours indoors under fluorescent lights about April 1 for planting outdoors May 15-20. They grow rapidly, so starting earlier than April isn’t advised.
  • Some garden centers sell transplants of cleome in bedding plant packs or individual pots.
  • Reliable old favorites such as the Queen series: Rose Queen, Violet Queen, White Queen and Queen Mix grow to between 4 and 5 feet high. Shorter, more compact types like the Sparkler series remain at about 3 feet. The shorter Sparkler series is nice, but I still prefer the old Queen cleome, in a mix of its pastel colors.
  • Cleome grows with robust vigor, so space plants about 18 inches apart if planting the taller Queen types. Plant in groupings for best effect.
  • Groupings of 3 or 5 cleome blend well when interplanted with perennial flowers for taller accents.
  • Full sun is best. Cleome blooms right up until heavy frost.
  • Fun fact – cleome is in the brassica plant family (synonym crucifer family) along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi.

If you’ve never grown cleome, give it a try. It’s sure to bring some curious glances. Happy Gardening!

1 Response

  1. Lindsay

    It’s worth it to mention the plants have prickly stems and the leaves themselves resemble the cannabis family. They have been reseeding themselves in my zone 3 garden for the past few years and I just love them!

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