Q: How does one collect and plant cleome seed?
A: The airy pink and white blooms of cleome (also called spider flower) lend grace to the back of flower beds in September and October. The stems average three feet tall, so they dance and sway in the early fall breezes. Cleome is quite undemanding: it can grow in all extremes of soil, drought and sun. It looks its best when lightly fertilized but regularly watered.
The seeds are contained in small “pea pods” arranged along the stem beneath the flower. The pods are dry at this time. You can collect them and shake out the seed easily. Cleome is an annual; it self-seeds so readily that there is really no need to collect seed if you want it to grow in the same area. For plants in another spot, loosen the soil there and scatter seeds about in early spring. They will germinate in May spring and mature during the summer. The plant is most effective when massed in groups. Fifteen plants together give long-lasting flowers and the effect of a small shrub.