Spider flowers, or cleomes, are a favourite amongst gardeners for their beauty and easy care. Here are just a few reasons why you should include them in your garden.
1. They go well with other plants
- Cleomes are most often grown as back-of-the-border plants in summer flower beds.
- They also look heavenly mixed in with other annuals planted in large containers.
- Try planting them in groups of five or more plants, so that the profusely flowered stems cut a wide swath in a flower bed.
- Many gardeners plant cleomes behind a short hedge. That way, the stems are hidden and all you see is the feathery flowers.
2. They come back year-after-year
- As the flowers fade, long, bean-like seedpods form along the lower stem, eventually shedding hundreds of seeds.
- In mild climates cleomes reseed so reliably that they reappear year after year in early summer.
- Tolerant of heat and drought, cleomes often flower non-stop until the plants are felled by hard freezes in the fall.
3. You can combine many different colours
- The variety ‘Cherry Queen’ has flowers of bright rose. ‘Helen Campbell’ is pure white. ‘Pink Queen’ is a vibrant pink. ‘Violet Queen’ has violet blossoms.
- If you have sufficient space, a breathtaking scene can be composed by planting cleomes in single-colour drifts.
- If you put the darker flowers at the rear and gradually plant lighter flowers towards the front, your flower bed will look deeper than it actually is.
4. Cleomes are easy to plant
- Purchase bedding plants in spring. Start seeds indoors four weeks before your last frost, or sow seeds directly in the garden around your last frost date.
- The seeds need light to germinate, so barely cover with soil.
- Keep the soil barely moist and at normal room temperature until the seedlings have several leaves. Or sow outdoors in warm soil.
- Transplant or thin seedlings to 30 centimetres (12 inches) apart.
5. They’re relatively maintenance-free
- Cleomes are self-supporting, so staking is rarely necessary.
- They only need watering during extended droughts.
- As cleomes gain height, the lowest sections of the stems often become thin and leggy, and the bloom display may weaken.
- To help plants make a comeback, prune back half of the stems by half their length to prompt new blooming branches.
- The prickly stems clad with sporadic thorns discourage pests and disease. But they do mean gloves are needed when pruning.
Spider flowers have long been a favourite of gardeners everywhere for their long stems and beautiful colouring. If you want some bright colours with only a little effort, these may just be the flowers for you and your garden.