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For a thrush of lovely rose, purple, and white flowers in your Carolinian landscape, consider cleome, or ‘spider flowers’. These tough annuals thrive in this climate and promise low maintenance, high yield when integrated in your yards, gardens, and beds. Use spider flower in masses, as background plantings, containers, and as part of your cutting garden.

Plant the hardy Cleome spider flower; use these tips to help it flourish in your landscape:


Cleome does best in well-drained soil, planted in spots that receive full-sun to part-shade. While this annual is drought-tolerant, water during dry seasons for optimal results. Your spider flowers will typically bloom around 80 days after germination.


Sow spider flower seeds when there is no danger of frost and when the soil is at least 70-degrees. Plant around four-inches apart, covered with a quarter-inch of soil. Keep your spider flower seeds moist until they germinate, which occurs within a couple weeks of planting. Thin your seedlings out around 12-inches apart for best results.


You can expect a hardy and healthy cleome to grow from a foot-and-a-half tall to five-feet, spreading up to two-feet in width. New strains of spider flower are odor-free without thorns. Watch for mildew in humid conditions, which can be prevented with proper spacing and ample air circulation. Make sure to remove frost-bitten and dead plants to avoid issues like disease and infection.


A cleome blooms large spider-like blossoms from June until the first frost. The flowers are large, usually four-to-eight-inches, followed by small green seed-pods that open later-on.


Preserve moisture and help your spider flower thrive with a thin layer of bark mulch on top of the surrounding soil. This also helps to prevent weeds during the germination phase of growth. Don’t bother staking your spider flower, as it typically has a strong stalk.


You can’t go wrong with spider flower in southeastern landscapes and gardens; cleome repels rabbits and is deer resistant. The sweet nectar of the blossoms appeals to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and certain types of insects, like the hummingbird moth. There are no significant problems with insects or disease when it comes to cleome, though aphids and spider-mites can occasionally be an issue.

Spider flowers create dramatic displays when planted in groupings. These plants pair well with other summer annuals, like zinnias, cosmos, salvia, and sunflowers. The stalks of cleome are typically bare, so plant shorter annuals and seedlings in front for a fuller, tiered effect.

Talk to the landscape experts at Terra Bella Garden Center, an area garden design center in Charleston, for tips on how to add color to southeastern spaces and properties. They have the know-how to choose plants suited to the climate, while bringing distinction and curb appeal to your landscape.

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