Cleome hassleriana (spinosa) 

(clee-o’me hass-lair-ee-aa’nah)

Common name: Spider Flower

Family: Cleomaceae, Cleome family (formerly listed under Capparidaceae, Caper family)

Height x width: 3-5’ tall x 3-5’ wide

Growth rate: moderate to fast

Foliage: 5-7 palmate, glandular hairs, minute teeth on margins; leaflets ovate to lanceolate to 5" long; spines at leaf stalk bases

Flowers: white, pink, or purple; scented; long stamens make flowers resemble spiders, over 1" across and 2-3" long, in terminal racemes of many florets; flowers are long lasting (see note below under interest)

Hardiness: annual

Soil: most, well-drained

Light: sun

Pests and Problems: aphids, spider mites and whiteflies especially as seedlings indoors; fungal spots, rusts, powdery or downy mildew occasionally outdoors

Landscape habit, uses: back of borders, massed, spaced with other annuals underplanted, cut flowers, temporary shrub; good for hot climates; generally withstands wind without staking

Other interest: native to South America; studies by Prof. Connie Nozolillo of the Univ. Ottawa (personal correspondance) found the color pigments in the flowers are a mixture of several acylated anthocyanins and are produced only in the epidermal cells in the paler tones and in both the epidermis and mesophyll cells in the darker tones.

Other culture: keep well-watered if dry

Propagation: seeds sown indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost, or in warmer climates outdoors after frost

Cultivars: all are commonly seen
Cultivar flowers other
Colour Fountain Mix mix
‘Helen Campbell’ white
Queen Hybrids various or mix
'Sparkler Blush' pink low
'Spirit Appleblossom' pink


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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