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What is a Spider Flower?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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The spider flower, Cleome hassleriana being its scientific name, is an annual flower. It is native to South America, growing in countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Another common name for the plant is grandfather's whiskers. It has tall stems and grows to around 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 m) in height. The plant spreads from 1 to 2 feet (30.48 to 60.96 cm).

The thorns and pronounced seedpods of the spider flower make them look like a spider. They produce purple, pink, and white blooms with stamens which protrude. The spider flower blooms from the summer until frost, and the plant is able to thrive all year round. The spider flower has showy, inedible fruits.

Some popular varieties of the spider flower include Helen Campbell, Rose Queen, and Ruby Queen. Helen Campbell is one of the more popular white varieties, while Rose Queen and Ruby Queen are the pink and red varieties, respectively.

Spider flowers are fairly resistant to diseases. Moreover, they are tolerant of drought and can survive harsh weather conditions. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the petals and stamen of the spider flower. It is also attractive to pests such as spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies. The spider flower is prone to developing mildew.

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Another noteworthy characteristic of the spider flower is its strong smell. Its leaves are likewise aromatic and sticky. For this reason, it is recommended that this plant be planted far from windows or doors to avoid the strong smell making its way indoors. The flower is easy to grow in dry to medium soils. It is also able to tolerate light shade and does not require much attention in terms of watering once it has reached full growth.

This plant is often used in flower beds and near a house's foundation. It can also be used to improve a backyard or a butterfly garden. The unusual appearance of the flowers makes an interesting addition to a border. It also makes good cut flowers when soaked in warm water.

The spider flower is best planted and grown indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost. The seeds can also be sown directly into the garden after the last frost date. Germination can take up to ten days. The seeds should be spaced around 1 foot (30 cm) apart from each other. To ensure growth, the seeds should be watered consistently throughout the season.

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