A member of the Cleomaceae plant family and sometimes known as the spider flower, this is a statuesque annual for summer flowers, which hails from subtropical South America (ht 1 - 1.5m). Above bold, palmate leaves, rounded heads of whiskery pink, white or lavender blooms like friendly flower people are held on increasingly long necks as summer progresses, attracting butterflies into the garden! They provide a superb background mass of colour and exotic form over an extended period in borders with other tropical-style plants such as Salvia, Dahlia and Canna.
They like a sunny spot and will grow in quite ordinary soil as long as it is well drained, and they don't need a lot of water. If you tip-prune them when the seedlings are small, a more branched plant will result, with multiple blooms. Cleome will self-seed from year to year. Young seedlings can be successfully transplanted if you are careful and keep them well watered for a few weeks. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage more blooms. Beware of the spiny stems of this plant.
Note that the correct name for this plant is now Cleome houtteana.
Best grown from seed.