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Cleome hassleriana

Common Names:  spider flower, spider plant
Type:  Annual
Family:  Cleomaceae

Native Range:  South America
Zone:  2 to 11

Habit:  Height: 3 to 6 feet. Spread: 1 to 2 feet. Bloom Time: June to frost in pink, purple, white and bicolors. Full sun to part shade. Water: Dry to medium. Maintenance: Low. Flowers: Showy, Fragrant. Leaves: Fragrant. Fruit: Showy. Other: Thorns. Tolerate: Rabbits, drought, dry soil.

Culture:  Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Best with consistent watering during the growing season, but once established, plants will tolerate some drought. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or plant seed directly in the garden after last frost date. Collect seed pods from favorite plants in fall for planting the following spring. If seed pods are not promptly removed, plants will self-seed, often aggressively. Hybrids may not come true from seed.

Notes:  It is a fast-growing annual that typically rises to 3-6’ tall on rigid stems. Dense elongated terminal racemes of pink, purple or white spider-like flowers with protruding stamens bloom from summer to frost. Flowers are sweetly fragrant. Flowers are followed by thin seed pods that ripen to brown before splitting open and dispersing the seed within. Aromatic, sticky, palmate green leaves with 5-7 lance-shaped leaflets have sharp spines at the base of each leaf stalk. Attractive to hummingbirds (nectar), birds (seed) and butterflies. Synonymous with C. spinosa.

Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Susceptible to mildew and rust. Can be an aggressive self-seeder.

Uses:  Beds, borders, foundations, large containers. Effective along fences, in background plantings and mixed with shrubs. Good addition to a bird or butterfly garden. Annual for natural areas.

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