9 Different Types of Cleome Flowers - Home Stratosphere

9 Different Types of Cleome Flowers

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.

Cleome flowers in a garden.

Cleome plants aren’t usually first on the list when it comes to a favorite garden plant, but this genus definitely deserves a little bit of the spot light. Though they can take a little while to get established before they blossom readily, once they do, gardeners will understand that efforts that went into their cultivation.

Throughout this article we are determined to convince you why you should consider planting a member of the cleome genus in your garden patch or green space. We’ll go through some basic information about the plant, what it takes to grow your own, and 9 of the most attractive varieties of cleome plant.

Related: Sun-Loving Flowers | Water-Loving Flowers | Shade-Loving Flowers | Types of Flowers | Types of Flowers by Color | Types of Flowers by Alphabet | Types of Flower Colors

What is a Cleome Plant?

A Cleome plant

Cleome plants are part of the cleomaceae botanical family. Different species will have different common names, though chances are you will hear them under the name of spider flowers, spider plants, spider weeds, bee plants, grandfather’s whiskers, or spider legs.

There are over 170 species within the genus and the vast majority of them are native to South America. They’ve been in cultivation since the 1800’s because of their unusual growth habit and mostly attractive smelling flowers.

Depending on the species and their growing region, a cleome plant will grow as either an annual plant, perennial, or biennial. Outside of their natural growing range they will mostly grow as annual plants, though they are able to reseed so prolifically themselves that they are about as little work as a perennial plant would be.

What do Cleome Plants Look Like? 

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 because of their size. When growing in the wild they tend to exhibit a very leggy growth habit, which is where their nickname came from.

Cleome flowers will usually bloom from June until the first frost of autumn. Their 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. Each bloom is 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.

How do you Cultivate a Cleome Plant?

Sun Exposure

Members of the cleome genus are relatively easy to cultivate and care for. When it comes to sun exposure, they are really not picky at all. They will produce the same quality of flower blossoms whether they are growing in full sun, partial shade, or full shade. This makes choosing a spot on your property to plant them a lot easier.

Water Level

Cleome plants are extremely tolerant to drought. They will not need any extra watering unless your native growing region is experiencing an abnormally long period of drought. Otherwise, they will be perfectly happy with the natural precipitation of the area.

If you are growing your cleome plant indoors as a house plant, then simply let the soil dry out all the way before watering again. You can test that the soil is fully dried out by sticking your finger deep into the soil. If it is still moist under the top soil, it is still too moist to be watered.

Soil Type

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.

It is ideal for the soil to be rich in nutrients, so don’t be afraid to periodically add some fertilizer during the plants growing season.

Temperature

Cleome plants are native to South America, which indicates that they are used to existing in more tropical and subtropical climates. In these climates they will grow as perennial plants as they can survive the winter, but outside of this climate they will grow as an annual plant.

Germination Requirements

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.

What are Some Issues with Cleome Plants?

This plant does not have many issues with insect invasions, nor do they experience many disease problems. Sometimes, aphids, mites, and whiteflies can pose to be a problem, though this is common. In hot and humid climates, this plant can experience leaf rust and they are also susceptible to powdery mildew.

This is why it is important that the leaves of the plant receive good air circulation in order for them to grow healthily. This also helps prevent infections. Sickly or dying plants should be either pruned or pulled out entirely to prevent the disease from transferring to another plant and persisting.

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.

9 Types of Cleome Plants

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

1. Helen Campbell Cleome

Helen Campbell

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Helen Campbell’

USDA Growing Zone: 10 through 12

Care Level: Low

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.

Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant. It grows best in neutral soil and is an unscented plant. 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 Helen Campbell cleome grows up to a height of 4 feet, 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.

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.

2. Linde Armstrong CleomeA Cleome plant cultivar called Linde Armstrong

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Linde Armstrong’

USDA Growing Zone: 9 through 10

Care Level: Medium

This is one of the Athens Select plants. The Linde Armstrong cultivar belongs to the houtteana species and is a perennial plant. 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.

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.  The foliage of this plant has a bronze tinge to it, which is another reason why it’s such a popular ornamental plant.

Caring for the Linde Armstrong variety is rather simple. 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.

3. Queen Cleome A Cleome plant cultivar called Queen

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’

USDA Growing Zone: 2 through 11

Care Level: Medium to Low

The flowers of this cultivar are fragrant and showy. 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, and the developing seedpods of this cultivar give a very whiskery look. 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 seeds of this variety take 12 weeks to bloom approximately.

4. Senorita Rosalita Cleome

A Cleome plant cultivar called Senorita Rosalita

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Senorita Rosalita’

USDA Growing Zone: 10 through 12

Care Level: Medium

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 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.

The light requirements for this plant are high as it demands to exist in full sun conditions. Overwatering can prove to be a problem for this plant as it is susceptible to root rot. . 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. 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.

5. Sparkler CleomeA Cleome plant cultivar called Sparkler

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Sparkler Bush’

USDA Growing Zone: 2 through 11

Care Level: Low

The sparkler bush cleome is a hybrid series. it is known for being the variety that has the bushiest growth habit. You can easily identify this variety by its pink and white flowers. Sometimes, the flowers will emerge as a lovely lavender, rose, or white color as well. It exhibits an upright growth habit and can achieve heights over 32 inches.

This cultivar is easy to grow and only needs full sun and nutrient rich soil that is well drained. Soil that is well drained and has medium moisture is ideal for the growth of the plant. It is usually pest and disease free, as well as resistant to rabbits and deer. It is very low maintenance as well as marvellously tolerant of both heat and drought.

This is an old fashioned annual plant that takes up lesser space than the rest. 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. It’s also a great idea to plant one of these because they attract beneficial pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies.

6. Spirit Series Cleome

A Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Spirit Series’

USDA Growing Zone: 8 through 11

Care Level: Medium

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.

The spirit series cleome plant as average moisture requirements and it will grow remarkably fast in sites that are very well drained with soil that remains moist. In terms of sun exposure, they can tolerate partial shade though they will grow much better in full sun conditions.

There are many different cultivars of this plant that have been created for their delicate colors. They grow as either tender perennials or as annual plants all over the world, though they are native to the southernmost parts of Brazil and Argentina.

7. Spirit Appleblossom A Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Spirit Appleblossom’

USDA Growing Zone: 8 through 11

Care Level: Low

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. 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. This cultivar is deer-resistant and does not have any negative characteristics. It is one of the most charming looking cleome varieties within the Spirit Series cultivars: it’s beautiful, it’s low maintenance, and it attracts pollinators. What more could you want from a plant!

8. Spirit Frost

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Spirit Frost’

USDA Growing Zone: 8 through 11

Care Level: Low

This is another one of the Spirit Series cultivars. It possesses all the same features as the others, though it has white flowers instead of pink or lilac.

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.

9. Spirit VioletaA Cleome plant cultivar belonging to the Spirit series

Scientific Name: Cleome Hassleriana ‘Spirit Violeta’

USDA Growing Zone: 8 through 11

Care Level: Low

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. 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.

Full sun exposure is most ideal for the growth of this plant and moist soil enhances its growth.  This cultivar has a medium water requirement. This plant is drought tolerant and is suitable for xeriscaping. The USDA hardiness zones for this plant are 8 to 11.

It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is a deer tolerant plant. It can be used in beds, borders and mass plantings.

***

The Cleome plant is a very ideal plant to grow. The dense foliage and the colorful blooms are very soothing to the eye. It is also a relatively easy plant to grow and does not have a lot of problems. Hopefully we’ve been able to convince you why it should be the next member of your garden!

FAQs

Are cleome flowers edible?

Though it varies from species to species, cleome serrulata is an edible variety of cleome plant. The cleome seeds can be eaten either raw or cooked and they can be ground into a type of meal to make flour.

The leaves, shoots, and flowers of the plant can also be eaten as well. These are regularly cooked as you would a regular steamed vegetable and are ideal for stir fry’s .

Are cleome flowers perennials?

Depending on the species and their growing region, a cleome plant will grow as either an annual plant, perennial, or biennial. Outside of their natural growing range they will mostly grow as annual plants, though they are able to reseed so prolifically themselves that they are about as little work as a perennial plant would be.

Are cleome flowers deer resistant?

All cleome species are resistant to both deer and rabbit grazing. Though not resistant to all pests, they are also beneficial in the way that they attract important pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies.

Does cleome make for a good cut flower variety?

Cleome flowers make for a nice short term cut flower variety. Though the blooms won’t last as long as say a canna lily or a rose, they make for a very attractive complimentary plant to the more striking flowers in a cut flower bouquet.

Where are cleome plants native to?

There are about 170 different species in the cleome genus and they are all native to different regions in South America.

Should I deadhead a cleome flower?

If you do not want your cleome plant to self seed, it is very important to deadhead the plant before it is able to go to seed. This way it will keep your garden nice and tidy, and the cleome plants won’t completely take over your garden.

The attractive feature of the plant is also the seed pods. This is what creates the interesting blossom. If you deadhead the plant, new seed pods will replace the old ones and keep the unique feature of the plant.

Scroll to Top