Garden Photo of the Day

One of Alan’s Favorite Flowers

In praise of the cleome

Mass of pink cleome flowers

Today Alan Weisberg is sharing one of his favorite flowers with us: cleome (Cleome hassleriana, annual).

From the foothills of Haycock Mountain in rural southeastern Pennsylvania I’ve been gardening for 40 years on three acres of what was once a 100-acre farm, with a fieldstone home and barn built in 1741. The restorations of the structures, landscaping, additions, and vegetable and flower gardens have yielded almost as many failures as successes, with plenty of lessons learned.

A stone house with pink flowers in frontOf the more than 100 varieties of plants, vegetables, shrubs, and trees on the property, my favorite plants are clearly the Cleome hassleriana, or spider flower. These annuals bloom profusely from early summer through late autumn, are very hardy, and are deer and rabbit resistant. In addition, the bees, butterflies, and smallest garden birds love them.

A garde in front of an old barnGreat for mass plantings in river pebbles, gravel, or almost any soil, cleomes reseed themselves every year with a high degree of reliability.

A garden in front of a houseThe seedpods are plentiful and easily stripped at the end of the season for planting elsewhere or gifting to like-minded gardening friends. Large flower heads are commonly pink, lavender, and white, though a red variety is also available.

Mass of pink cleome flowersI’ve found it far more advantageous to scatter the seeds on a scratched bed in early winter rather than to wait until spring for planting. They need the cold temperature exposure to condition the seed skin for successful germination. And it’s better to lightly press them into the soil rather than to cover them with soil.

Mass of pale pink cleome flowersEasily growing 3 to 5 feet tall, cleomes love full sun but will tolerate partial shade, though you should be prepared to support them, as they will bend down to reach out for more sunlight.

Pink cleome flowers in the foreground of a gardenColorful, aromatic, critter resistant, and easy grow—it makes good sense to add a few cleomes to your landscape. I’m confident you will not be disappointed!


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View Comments


  1. gardendevas 05/11/2021

    What a gorgeous place!! Thank you for sharing.

  2. sandyprowse 05/11/2021

    I also love cleome. However here in Toronto Canada they are hard to find at nurseries. I did take some seeds from plants in a local park at the end of the season. Thank you for explaining the best way to plant the seeds. Your garden and home are awesome. Well done!

    1. starvnmarvn 05/11/2021

      I have found to be a reliable high-quality source at reasonable prices.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 05/11/2021

    Lovely setting and beautiful gardens. I'll definitely try the cleome this year.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/11/2021

    So very pretty.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 05/11/2021

    Such a darling stone cottage and garden and barn- the whole place is just idyllic!
    Your Cleome plants are beautiful, and I like your advice/instructions on how to grow them too.
    Would love to see more of your garden, very inspiring!

  6. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 05/11/2021

    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. btucker9675 05/11/2021

    Just lovely - I will try them! Thanks for sharing your very pretty gardens.

  8. user-5117752 05/11/2021

    Simply exquisite, house, garden and barn!!! I, too, love cleomes. Planted a few 17 years ago and now have them in large groups every year. Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us!

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