The Q&A Archives: Name Of Unknown Plant

Question: My neighbor has a plant that I would like to have and she calls it a spider plant, but I know that is not the proper name. This plant is sunloving, grows 3 to 4 ft. tall, reseeds itself (has seed pods about 2 to 3 inches long--slender pods almost like skinny pea pods) The flower is clustered with white flowers on the bottom of the cluster, spidery spikes at top that are deep pink (above the clusters of white flowers). At first I thought that perhaps it was a member of the phlox family or perhaps an exotic lily member. Just don't know. I haven't seen anything like it before for reference. The leaves go from ground to the tops of sturdy slender stems and are about an inch wide, tapering to a point in clusters of at least 5 or more leaves per segment. Do you have any idea what this flower is called so that I may purchase seeds for it?

Answer: Without seeing the plant I can only guess that it's Cleome hasslerana. These are shrubby, branching plants topped with open, fluffy clusters of pink or white flowers with extremely long, protruding stamens; the lower leaves are divided and the upper leaves are undivided. Plants grow 4'-6' tall and 4'-5' wide. Seed capsules are slender and the plants tend to self-sow. You can collect seeds and start them in your own garden next spring. The seeds require a chilling period prior to germination so mix them together with moistened seed starting mix, seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate for two weeks. Then sow on the surface of moistened seed starting mix (indoors), or prepared soil in a garden bed. Seedlings will emerge in 10-14 days at temperatures of 70F-75F degrees.

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