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.