An unusually striking plant that looks great in large drifts in the annual border. Can also be used as a good gap-filler between summer flowering herbaceous perennials. The exotic looking flowers have long stamens that give them a spidery appearance, hence its common name: spider flower.

Family: Cleomaceae
Botanical Name: Cleome
Common Names: Spider Flower

Foliage: Deciduous, mid-green, palmately divided leaves. Slightly fragrant.

Flowers: Tall flower stems bearing globe shaped clusters of four-petalled flowers. In shades of white, pink, red and purple. Often scented.

Flowering Period: Mid-summer to early autumn (June to October).

Soil: Any moist but well-drained, fertile, garden soil. Sand or loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun. Good drought resistance.

Habit: Bushy upright.

Type: Half-hardy annual.

Origin: Southern South America

Hardiness: Half-hardy, protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Cleome

Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered possition. Ideal for flower beds and borders but can also be grown in large containers.

Excellent Cut Flowers.

Taking Care of Cleome

Easy to grow and look after.


Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period. The architectural seed heads can also be left-on for winter interest.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by aphids and caterpillars. Generally disease free.

Propagating Cleome

Sow seeds in early spring, under glass, in a gentle heat. Prick-out, pot on and harden off. Plant out at the end of May when all danger of frost is past.

Popular Varieties of Cleome Grown in the UK

Several good forms have been developed from C. spinosa, including:

'Colour Fountain' a good mix of colours from pink to purple and white. Height to 4ft (1.2m).

'Helen Campbell' a lovely white flowered form. Height to 4ft (1.2m). Available from Thompson and Morgan.

'Kelly Rose' s a good dwarf form in lilac. Height to 10in (25cm). Available from Thompson and Morgan.

'Sparkler Rose' (new F1 hybrid variety) compact and weather resistant with bright rose flowers. Height to 3ft (90cm). Available from You Garden.