9 Different Types of Cleome Flowers

Cleome flowers in a garden.

Learn all about the different types of Cleome flowers, their distinct characteristics, the common problems gardeners encounter with them, and how to cultivate these perennials.

This Cleome hassleriana plant is a fast-growing perennial that belongs to the caper family, also known as Capparaceae. The common name for this flower is the spider flower. It is a genus of 170 species and is native to South America. Other names for this flower are spider legs and grandfather’s whiskers. This flower has been a popular choice for people since the 1800s. The plant has long stamens that are thread-like. Elongated seed pods develop below the blooming flowers.

Features of the Cleome Plant

A Cleome plant

The Cleome reaches a height of 1.5 feet to 5 feet tall, depending on the cultivar and has a spread of 1 to 2 feet. The relatively smaller cultivars are 1.5 to feet in height and are ideal for small containers. These plants bloom from June until frost. The blooms are pink, rose, purple, white or bi-colored and are spider-like, due to the spidery seedpods from which the flower gets its name. The blooms are 4 to 8 inches wide. Following the flowers are thin green seed pods that turn brown in color after they ripen. They then split open and disperse the small seeds.

Average well-drained soil is ideal for the growth of this plant, alongside full sun or light shade. This plant is drought tolerant. Supplemental irrigation is only needed when the season is dry.

Cultivation of the Cleome Plant

This is a plant that is relatively easy to grow. The dense foliage and the thorns create an effective barrier. The bloom colors are very pleasing and can be highly soothing to the idea. They also make very lovely cut flowers. Fertile and well-drained soil is ideal for the growth of this plant.

When there is no fear of frost, the seeds of this plant can be sown directly in the landscape. It is ideal that the temperature of the soil is 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds should be sown at a distance of 4 to 6 inches approximately and should be covered with a thin layer of soil. The beds should be kept moist, but not entirely wet until the germination period. The seedlings start to show in around a week or two weeks. Seeds can also be sown indoors. Cleome usually blooms around 80 days after germination.

The Queen cultivar can germinate better if it is chilled for 5 days before being planted. Spreading them on a paper towel that is moist can chill the seeds. Then, they should be kept in the refrigerator to cool. This series can also reseed itself. The Sparkler series do not need to be chilled before germination. The Spirit Series can self sow itself. After the planting is done, 1 to 2 inches of mulch can help in retaining the moisture and disallowing the weed seeds to germinate. The strong taproot does not allow staking.

Problems of Cleome Plants

This plant does not have any such insect or disease problems. Sometimes, aphids, mites, and whiteflies can pose to be a problem though. In hot and humid climates, this plant can rust and have powdery mildew. This is why it is important that there is good air circulation around these plants for them to grow healthy. This also helps prevent infections. Dead plants should be removed in order for the diseases to be avoided later on.

Another common problem with these plants is that they can seem to be growing healthy and then wilt and die for no obvious reason. A fungus in hot climates and humid weather causes this. This can also happen if the soil is too wet or contains a high amount of fertilizer with nitrogen.

Types of Cleome Plants

There are many cultivars of the Cleome plant and the most famous ones are explained below.

Helen CampbellHelen Campbell

This cultivar is characterized by white flowers and also received the RHS award of Graden Merit in 1993. This half-hardy annual plant belongs to the Spinosa species and is part of the Cleomaceae family. It grows best in neutral soil and is an unscented plant. It grows up to a height of 4 feet and is spaced 45 centimeters after last frosts. It should be sown undercover in January and February and is a very tricky plant for germination since it needs plenty of time. After 20 weeks of sowing, the flowers start to appear. They stay intact for around 7 to 10 days. The stems of this plant are erect and bear palmately divided leaves. The flowers have conspicuous stamens. The foliage color is green and the hardiness zone for his cultivar is 2. Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant. This plant is generally pest and disease free and does not require any pruning. It attracts bees, birds, beneficial insects, butterflies, and other pollinators. This plant has no toxic effects on birds, cats, dogs, horses, livestock, and people.

Linde ArmstrongA Cleome plant cultivar called Linde Armstrong

This is a thornless cultivar that has pink, rose or mauve flowers that bloom in late spring, early summer, mid-summer, late summer or early fall, which are the blooming periods for this cultivar. This plant grows up to a height of 12 to 18 inches and can tolerate heat well. This is one of the Athens Select plants. The foliage of this plant has a bronze tinge to it. It belongs to the houtteana species and is a perennial plant. It has average water needs, meaning it needs water regularly after intervals. Overwatering can cause harm to this plant. Full plant exposure is ideal for this herbaceous. These plants are usually spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. The pollen of the flowers may cause allergic reactions to a few people. This plant is known to grow in a few regions. Some of them are Wichita Kansas, Minneapolis Minnesota, Prineville Oregon, Snook Texas, and Jackson Mississippi.

QueenA Cleome plant cultivar called Queen

This cultivar comes in purple, white, cherry and rose shades. It is a 3 to 5 feet tall plant that is 18 to 24 inches wide. It is the perfect addition to beds, borders, cottage gardens, and containers. The ideal condition for its growth is full sun or light shade. The soil should ideally be well-drained or medium moisture. Once this plant is established, it is heat and drought tolerant. This plant is free of diseases and pests and self-seeds in good growing conditions. It is a low-maintenance plant and attracts a lot of butterflies, birds, and hummingbirds. This plant is rabbit resistant. This cultivar is native to Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. The hardiness zones for this plant are 2 to 11 and the heat zones are 1 to 12. The flowers of this cultivar are fragrant and showy. The developing seedpods of this cultivar give a very whiskery look. The seeds of this variety take 12 weeks to bloom approximately.

Senorita RosalitaA Cleome plant cultivar called Senorita Rosalita

This is a thornless cultivar and is odorless. The flowers are purplish lavender in color are all over the stem and not just on top of the plant. The plant is 12 to 18 inches in height and the foliage is not sticky. The light requirements for this plant are high. Overwatering can prove to be a problem for this plant. If humidity levels are high and there are low light conditions, small bumps can form on the leaves. An optimum level of fertilizer usage is ideal for the growth of this plant. The hardiness zones for this cultivar are 10 and 11.

The spring and summer seasons are the blooming seasons for this plant. This annual plant has green colored foliage and is an upright plant with very little maintenance requirements. Average soil is ideal for this plant’s growth. The ideal uses for this plant are as a border plant, container, landscape, and mass planting. This plant does not self-seed. The size of the flowers is small as compared to the normal cleome. This cultivar attracts hummingbirds and butterflies and is tolerant of rabbit and drought. This plant does not have any disease or pest problems.

SparklerA Cleome plant cultivar called Sparkler

This is a hybrid series that is 3 to 4 feet in height, on an average. It is one of the very bushy plants. It is characterized by pink and white flowers. Sometimes, the flowers can also be lavender, rose, or white in color. This is an old fashioned annual plant that takes up lesser space than the rest. This cultivar is easy to grow and only needs full sun and nutrients from the soil. It is tolerant of heat and drought. The bloom time for this plant is spring, late spring or summer. The hardiness zones for this plant are 10 and 11. It is an upright plant and is around 24 to 36 inches in width. This plant is known to have received the All America Selections Award in 2002. It is a perfect addition to beds, borders, cottage gardens, and containers. Soil that is well-drained and has medium moisture is ideal for the growth of this plant. It is usually pest and disease free and is a fairly low maintenance plant. It is rabbit resistant and attracts birds and butterflies.

Spirit SeriesA Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

This is a more compact cultivar that grows up to a height of 24 to 48 inches and is 15 to 18 inches in width. It includes the Spirit Appleblossom that has pink and white flowers, Spirit Frost that has white flowers and Spirit Violeta that has pinkish-purple flowers. It has a better branching growth habit. Having sticky foliage and thorns, this cultivar also has the ability to self-seed.

Spirit Appleblossom A Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

This cultivar of the spirit series has a height of 3 feet and is paced at 16 inches. This cultivar has showy spikes of spider-like flowers that are pink and white and rise above the foliage. The foliage is dark green in color. Occasional maintenance is required for this cultivar and it attracts butterflies. This cultivar is deer-resistant and does not have any negative characteristics. Full sunlight coupled with moist soil is ideal for its growth. This fast-growing plant lives for a year on an average and then needs replacement the next year. For outdoor containers and hanging baskets, this cultivar is very suitable.

Spirit Frost

This one grows up to a height of 3 feet and is spaced 16 inches apart. It has white flowers. It requires frequent maintenance and attracts butterflies. Full sunlight is ideal for the growth of this cultivar. This particular variety is not native to Northern America and is a good plant for outdoor containers and hanging baskets.

Spirit VioletaA Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

This cultivar grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet and is 1 to 2 feet in width. It has pinkish-purple flowers and the bloom time is summer and fall season. Full sun exposure is most ideal for the growth of this plant and moist soil enhances its growth. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is a deer tolerant plant. This cultivar has a medium water requirement. It can be used in beds, borders and mass plantings. This plant has excellent branching and is a dwarf plant. The flowers of this variety are very delicate and can break or come off easily. This plant is drought tolerant and is suitable for xeriscaping. The USDA hardiness zones for this plant are 8 to 11.


The Cleome plant is a very ideal plant to grow. The dense foliage and the colorful bloom are very soothing to the eye. It is also a relatively easy plant to grow and does not have a lot of problems.

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