At Kingshighway, we like to highlight different plants each month since we are located near the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) and we have a seed library. This month, we’d like to draw some attention to the Cleome flower. Also known as the Spider flower, the Cleome flower is a Herbaceous perennial, from the Cleomaceae family, and it is a genus of about 150 species from tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. This flower can grow from 2 to 4 feet tall and can spread out to 2 feet in diameter. The blooms at the top come in a variety of shades of pink, purple, or white. It is a self-seeding plant, depending on the species. The seeds come from pods, that look sort of like string beans, that grow out from the stems of the plant, as seen above. When the pods dry out, the seeds come out and fall on the ground. These beautiful blooms draw a variety of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to them, which is also a nice benefit for you and for the environment!
The bloom periods are between June to the last frost of the year, again depending on the species. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden's plant index, they require little maintenance, are easily sown outdoors, and thrive in partly shady to full sun. Some species are bred to have no smell, but the one plant Kingshighway Library was given last autumn smelled oddly boggy. Some pests to look out for are spider mites and Harlequin bugs and potential problems include mildews of varying kinds, damping off, and leaf spots. Once established, these plants tolerate heat and drought and as a sterile plant, it will not re-seed in the garden. It is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10 and is grown as an annual in Zones 3-8. Some species such as Senorita Rosalita, can tolerate rabbits.
We also want to mention our upcoming Seed Swap at Kingshighway!! This year our annual Seed Swap at Kingshighway will take place on March 14th. This is a free event and open to all interested gardeners, whether they are experienced or are beginners. Light refreshments will be served.