Cleome serrulata. Sow some Rocky Mountain Bee Plant seeds around the edge of your organic vegetable garden for dramatically improved pollination. This native of BC (and the Rockies southward) is highly attractive to bees, and has been used by First Nations people as a food, medicine, and dye plant. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. This is a wonderfully architectural, tall Cleome has large flower clusters from purple to pink to white. This elegant annual grows to a height of 150cm (60"). Rocky Mountain Bee Plant blooms from July to August, and will die back at first frost.
Cleome is very easy to grow once established, and may work best from direct-sown seeds. Any ordinary garden soil will work, including dry areas once plants are established. Cleome self-sows with gusto, so if you want to avoid this, remove flower heads before seeds ripen. This annual native of South America is quite drought tolerant so it's good for xeriscaping. Continue reading below for more tips on how to grow Cleome from seed.
Cleome hassleriana, C. serrulata, and many others
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun or very light shade
Start indoors from 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost date for transplanting (or simply direct sow) 3-4 weeks after last frost. If direct sowing, consider repeating every two weeks into early summer for a longer bloom period. Seeds will sprout in 10-14 days.
Sow on the surface of the soil. If starting indoors, seeds benefit from vernalization: Place seeds on the surface of moistened, sterilized seed starting mix in pots, and place pots in zip-top plastic bags inside the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Then move pots to bottom heat and maintain soil temperature at 21-25°C (70-75°F) until germination. Provide bright light.
Cleome is quite an undemanding annual. The stems are usually very strong and upright, but might benefit from support in very windy, exposed gardens.