Name: Cleome hybrid Senorita Blanca
Type of Plant: An annual plant from Proven Winners, this is a special version of the garden annual Cleome, which is also called spider flower. This annual grows to about 36” tall and half as wide. The flowers are white but often have a blush of pink or lavender, especially as the temperatures get cooler in the fall.
Why I love this: Unlike seed-grown Cleome, this one is shorter, doesn’t have thorns, and is sterile. That means that it keeps on flowering and doesn’t leave seeds that will sprout into hundreds of small plants next spring. I love how long this annual flowers, and how it grows full on it’s own without deadheading. (Note that if you start with very small plants pinching off the first few flowers will help the plant to fill out more quickly.)
This annual works well in groups in a garden, either with other annuals or with perennials. Senorita Blanca, like the pink-flowering Senorita Rosalita, is especially good in perennial gardens that are short on late-season bloomers. It also works well in large mixed containers as the tall element.
A Word to the Wise: Grow this annual in full to part sun. Water deeply once a week. Plant with a mix of some time-release synthetic fertilizer and an organic one that’s scattered over the soil before planting…that will keep it well fertilized all summer and you won’t have to be mixing up liquids.
If the plants you place in the garden are very small you might want to dust them with diatomaceous earth immediately after planting to prevent damage from earwigs and slugs. Once they have a bit of size on them they aren’t as prone to these pests, but when they are fresh from the grower the insects find them especially attractive.
Design tip: Use these Cleome in combination with plants with red or burgundy foliage. They work well in front of a rustic background such as wood, bark or brick. And because they aren’t too heavy up top you can space several of them about three feet apart and then plant a shorter, trailing or mounding annual (Scaevola, for example) in between for an interesting layered look.