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Spider flower plants create striking focal points at the back of a garden due to their ability to grow 3 to 5 feet tall. Nor do they need to be staked to stay upright. In fact, one small plant can grow to create a small shrublike specimen covered in flowers. (Unfortunately, many gardeners overlook spider flower in garden centers because of its weedy appearance when young.) This plant’s spidery-looking flowers add tropical flair to mixed borders. Hummingbirds and pollinators such as butterflies and moths love spider flower for its copious amounts of nectar. Studies show this plant also attracts beneficial insects that feed on pests.
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Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
Most commonly available in shades of white, pink, and purple, spider flower's unique airy blossoms add interest to any garden. Spider flower will begin blooming as soon as it's established and won't stop until it's knocked out by the first frost. Even the seed pods add interest to the display; they're held outward from the main flowering stem, adding to the spiderlike quality of the flower stalks.
Spider Flower Care Must-Knows
As long as spider flower is planted in well-drained soil with a decent amount of organic matter, it will bloom all season long. Many varieties of spider flower work as well in containers as they do in the ground. When planting spider flower in a container, give it some slow-release fertilizer or frequently fertilize the plant to support its prolific blooming habits. Supplemental waterings help establish new plants in garden soil, after which they are extremely drought- and heat-tolerant.
Plant spider flower in full sun for a dense habit and the best floral display. The stalks continuously bloom from the tip, which makes deadheading plants harder than normal because you can't simply pinch off the top. Even in ideal conditions, though, some older varieties of spider flower may lose their lower foliage. Disguise those bare stems, if you like, by placing shorter species around the taller plant.
Because spider flower plants are prolific bloomers, they produce lots of seeds. As these seedpods ripen and burst open, the seeds scatter about the garden. So if you plant it once, you may be blessed with new spider flower plants for years to come—without any extra effort on your part. Spider flower may be considered invasive in the right setting. The best way to control seed spread is to remove seedpods before they open.
Much of the breeding work in recent years has focused on shrinking spider flower's substantial height. These new shorter varieties are better suited to containers, as well as the front or middle of the garden.
More Varieties of Spider Flower
'Helen Campbell' spider flower
Cleome 'Helen Campbell' bears pure white flowers on tall, 4-foot stems.
'Queen Series' spider flower
Cleome 'Queen Series' offers a mix of rose, violet, and white flowers on 4-foot-plants.
'Senorita Rosalita' spider flower
Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' bears lavender-pink flowers on a more heat-resistant 4-foot-tall plant.
'Violet Queen' spider flower
Cleome 'Violet Queen' produces lavender-purple flowers on 4-foot-tall plants.