How to Grow Spider Flowers (Cleome Hasslerana)

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Spider flowers, or cleome hasslerana, are plants from the tropics that can be treated like an annual in colder climates. Cut back spider flowers in the fall with help from a sustainable gardener in this free video on flower gardening and plant care.

Part of the Video Series: Flower Gardens
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen, and in this segment, we're going to learn all about how to grow the spider flower or cleome. It's a beautiful plant from the tropics, and cleome are native to many tropical areas in South America and Africa. So, in the colder climates, they're treated like an annual. Flowers come in many colors: whites and hot pinks and soft pinks and purples. And they're really a beautiful cut flower as well, but they're from the tropics, so they can only handle temperatures that are above freezing; they can only survive in zones 10-12 outside, but in colder climates you can treat them like an annual. Just start them by seed in the spring whenever the freeze has stopped. Don't even put them outside until it's over 60 degrees continuously during the day, because if you put them out too early, you might lose them as well, because it's too cold. Then, they'll bloom all summer, and then in the fall you just cut them back and save the seeds and start them from seeds the next spring. But, they have a long and exciting history, and they've been found all over the world, and even at Monticello, apparently, Thomas Jefferson was one of the first Americans to grow the cleome. And don't be confused; a lot of plants are called spider flowers. There's the Aztec lilies, sprekelia, that's sometimes been called the spider lily and the ismene or hymenocallis, which has kind of a spidery shape that's white and it has a nice fragrance and sometimes they call that spider flower as well. But truly there's only one spider flower that is known as spider flower and that's cleome.

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