Members of the Cleome Plant genus are half hardy annual and perennials that can reach from 90 cm to 1.2 m in height.
Some Common names for members of this genus include Spider Flower and African Cabbage. They flower from summer to late in the autumn and have pink, white or purple spiky flower heads.
The Cleome genus is also referred to as being the Spider Flower Genus. It includes about 170 species. These largely consist of Perennial plants, though there are also quite a few shrubs and annuals in the genus.
As it is a native to the subtropical regions of the world it is also often grown as an annual by gardeners who live in more temperate regions.
It is a very interesting genus of plants scientifically as it seems to be an evolutionary step between the C3 and C4 photosynthesis classes.
It is speculated that three members of the Cleome genus (C. gynandra; C. oxalidea; and C. angustifolia ) were able to acquire the ability of C4 (NAD-malic enzyme) photosynthesis independently.
Cleome lutea by Matt Lavin.
Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower Cleome) are grown for their attractive leaves (palmate) and racemes of four-petalled pink flowers.
The species Cleome gynandra (Shona cabbage, Wild Spinach) is native to Africa and is often grown as a green vegetable.
Both the leaves and shoots have culinary uses in Africa they are usually boiled and used in stews, while in Thailand they are fermented into a pickle.
It is also thought that Cleome gynandra may have some medicinal use as its leaves are as strong antioxidant and may play a role in the support of inflammation.
Cleome seeds grown outdoors should be sown on the surface in a partially shaded or sunny area of the garden.
They can grow in most soils that have a pH of 6 to 7. When planning on growing spider flower seedlings indoors first, then the process should be started about one and a half months before you plan to put them out.
Germination takes about two weeks, but first seeds should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a black bag, then placing in the fridge for two weeks.
Seeds should then be sown out at a temperature of 21 to 24 Centigrade.
Seedlings of Cleome should be planted out with a spacing of about 50 to 60 cm after the last frost of spring.
Plants of the Cleome genus are easy to look after. They should be fertilized and watered whilst growing.
Remove seed pods before they have chance to shatter.