Cleome houtteana, Spider Flower

Cleome houtteana, sometimes called spider flower, is a tall, somewhat spiked-looking plant with spidery flowers of pink, purple, and white combinations. Cleome prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade and favors well-drained soil with consistent moisture through the growing season.

Planted in the back of the flower bed or against a fence, cleome will shine in the garden. Plant low-growing annuals in front to hide the bare stems and provide support. Cleome is most often grown by seed sewn directly in the garden after the last frost. It is not fussy about the soil type. This plant re-seeds freely but is not considered invasive. Cleome is rarely damaged by deer or bunnies. Cleome has a musky fragrance which some gardeners find unpleasant but the massive blooms make up for that.

Cleome attracts bats, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and moths. It is drought tolerant. Cleome is at home in any garden. As a cut flower it is short-lived.

Consider a pack of cleome seeds next spring, and you will be rewarded with blooms all summer and for years to come.

Photos and information by Jeanne Pavero