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Large annual plant, native to Central and South America, widespread in cultivation in Europe; quickly produces a large head, with thin erect herbaceous stems, which bear numerous palmate and pinnate leaves, consisting of long lanceolate leaves, often characterized by small spines, also present on the stems. Starting from late spring until the end of summer, at the apex of the stems it produces particular roundish racemes, which bear numerous pinkish flowers; as the flowers bloom and wither the plant produces further stem, on which further flowers begin to bloom; at the height from the vegetative season they can reach 140-150 cm in height.
A single plant can therefore occupy the space of a medium-sized shrub.
How to grow it
These are easy-to-grow annual plants, highly recommended also because the varieties born from seed produce very decorative flowers, without the need for excessive care; from a few seeds originates a real shrub: these plants develop rapidly, in a few weeks they pass from the young shoots to a shrub of 45-55 cm.
Place the plant in a sunny, or partially shady, place in a good rich and fresh soil; they can easily withstand short periods of drought, although they generally tend to bloom best only if watered with good regularity, as soon as the soil dries.
Every 10-12 days we supply the plant with a specific fertilizer for flowering plants.
They fear the cold, therefore they settle down only when the spring has already begun to warm us with its warmth and the nighttime minimums are higher than 10-12 ° C; when autumn arrives, the plant dries up and dies.
The flowers are usually followed by seeds, which can be used the following year for sowing new plants. Often in the garden the plant tends to self-seed, behaving like a perennial plant, since from year to year it tends to produce new shoots.
These species are sown directly in the spring, or in February-March, in seedbeds. We keep the soil of the seedbed well moist until complete seed germination. On the market there are numerous hybrids of this plant, with flowers of particular color, for this reason it is not said that the plants obtained from seed produce flowers of the same color as those of the mother plant.
Pests and diseases
The cleome they are easy to grow also because, despite their delicate appearance, they are very vigorous plants, which are not seriously attacked by the most common pests; in fact the delicate and often perfumed foliage can attract insects that eat it, such as snails, otiorrinco, or larvae of lepidoptera. In general, however, it happens that these insects eat the foliage in the lower part of the bush, without stealing anything from the beauty of the plant.
Cleome - Cleome: The cleome and ecology
Often man is led to desire to embellish, command and modify nature; when you move to another country, or continent, often the memory of the plants admired in the country from which we come makes even the most beautiful orchid blossomed in the park of the country that occupies us fade. For this reason frivolous, or for more serious reasons, related to the cultivation of plants for industry or to use as food, in many places of the world we can see, now naturalized, plants not really originating from those places.
In particular, a species of cleome, not particularly decorative, Cleome gynandra, was introduced into many of the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans; this plant is native to Africa, where its leaves are consumed. Unfortunately, in many places it has grown out of proportion, to the detriment of the original species of the places where it was introduced.
Some species native to the Hawaiian islands are on the verge of extinction.