Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cleome hirta, an African cleome


I got seed of this a few years ago from JL Hudson, and it is one of my favorite annuals.  It is hard to photograph because it is an airy plant, not dense and showy in the typical sense of many garden flowers.  It grows fast in warm weather, and sets copious amounts of seed in long thin pods.  Unlike the common garden cleome, it is not annoyingly prickly stemmed.  I like the unusual yellow markings which contrast nicely with the light purple base flower color.  The flowers are great favorites of bumblebees, and C. hirta will flower for a long period of time from mid/late summer till frost. For earlier flowering in northern parts of the US, it is best to start it early indoors, as is the case with Ceratotheca triloba, another African annual worth growing. 
There are several other species of Cleome in southern Africa, but I have yet to have success in germinating the yellow flowered ones.  I assume they have some kind of inhibitor present in the seed, or they may require special treatment such as scarification.  I will keep trying to get them to germinate, as the yellow flowered African species can be quite spectacular in flower.

4 comments:

Landbohaven said...

Hvor er den dog smuk.
Tak for kigget.

Greensparrow said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that has been unable to germinate the yellow-flowered species. I've tried several times, with no success.

scottweberpdx said...

So charming...love those contrasting yellow markings!

Paul said...

I have just sowed seeds of Cleome hirta ( also from J.L. Hudson ). I have germinated several other species of Cleome earier and it usually works well with a warm window during the day and a fridge or outdoors during the night. Big differences in night and day temperature usually triggers germination, which I guess depends on the places where they grow. There are also American yellow flowered Cleomes like Cleome lutea ( Western Native Seed )but I had a hard time grwoing it here in Sweden. It probably prefers desert like conditions.