Cleome 'Fountain Mix'
Scientific Name: Cleome hassleriana
Common Names: Cleome 'Fountain Mix', Spider Flower, Spider Plant, Grandfather's Whiskers
Cleome is native to parts of South America and has become naturalised in parts of Southern Asia and Australia.
Cleome flowers are rich in nectar which helps to attract beneficial insect pollinators such as butterflies and hawk moths to the garden. Cleome flowers have a citronella-like scent and can be used in cut flower arrangements if the scent is not too pungent for the homeowner. Cleome is suitable for planting in cottage gardens.
Cleome grows and flowers best when planted in a full sun location. Position towards the back when planting in mixed garden beds or they may shade out smaller plants. Single plants may look straggly as they tend to grow straight upwards and will drop lower leaves, so plant in clusters for best effect and position lower bushier plants in front to hide any bare stems. Cleome prefers growing in a fertile, free-draining soil so dig through plenty of compost or well-rotted cow manure before planting if your soil is sandy or heavy with clay. Cleome is tolerant of a wide pH range and drought hardy once established. Cleome produces long seedpods containing many seeds and will self-sow under ideal conditions, mulch around plants, trim off any seedpods before they fully ripen and remove unwanted seedlings regularly if this becomes a problem.
When To Sow
In temperate areas of Australia sow cleome seeds from November to January. In subtropical regions of Australia sow cleome seeds from September to April. In tropical areas of Australia sow cleome seeds from April to June. Cleome is unlikely to grow well in cold and mountainous regions of Australia because it doesn't tolerate frost or very cold weather.
How To Sow
Sow several cleome seeds 5mm deep directly where they are to grow or in punnet cells. Thin or divide seedlings as they emerge. Space planting sites about 30cm apart to give the cleome plants room to grow. Water regularly until the seedlings are well established.
Cleome seeds can have erratic germination taking between 7 and 30 days for the seedlings to start emerging. If germination is poor it may be beneficial to cold stratify the seeds.
Time To Flowering
Cleome takes between 14 and 20 weeks to reach maturity and begin flowering. Trim off spent flowers to keep the plants tidy and encourage further flower formation.