Itsy, Bitsy, Spider Flower (Cleome)
Actually, this plant is anything but itsy.
The spider flower, also known as Cleome, is among one of the tallest annuals, growing from 3 to 6 feet tall.
It is an eye-catching annual that is known for its long waving stamens that resemble the legs of Daddy Longleg spiders. The plant produces clusters of flowers in shades of pink, purple and white. It blooms all summer long. The leaves of the Cleome look like those of Cannabis plant (marijuana), deeply lobed and palm-shaped.
As striking and dramatic as this flower looks, not all gardeners want to grow this plant. It's fast growing and can easily become invasive, if left to go to seed. The plant will reseed on its own. For this reason, spider flowers should be deadheaded. Moreover, the foliage is coated with a sticky sap and emits an offensive odor. The skunk-like scent deters deers from your garden.
But if you can get past the smell and its invasive tendencies, the spider flower is a great addition to your garden. Cleomes are drought tolerant, and pest and disease resistant. They prefer full sun and perform better when watered regularly. They will add a bit of height, colour and interest to your landscape, especially as a border plant. They can also be grown in containers. Plus, hummingbirds and bees seem to like them!
The spider flower could be used as a cut flower, but they don't last long. And you should be careful when cutting them; the stems have sharp spines on them.