If you haven’t already, sow spider flower, Cleome spinosa, for an autumn showing. This long-blooming annual is grown as much for its beauty as its novelty, with its long stamens resembling spiders’ legs. It’s a tall, shrubby plant to 1.5m high, so position at the back of the border and deadhead regularly for repeat blooms. The flowers are pink or white and are easily grown by seed – or, if you can find them, seedlings from your garden centre.
This is a great plant to grow as a catch crop, or bug lure, because the flowers attract the dastardly green vegetable bug. Errk! you might say, but better on your cleome than your veggies!
Also known as spider flower, cleome is a long-blooming annual with pink or white flower heads in summer and autumn. It’s a breeze to grow from seed, germinating about 14 days after sowing and flowering in 100 days. Plant in full sun in moist soil and don’t feed too often or you’ll get more foliage than flowers. Deadhead regularly though and the flowers will continue to come. If you’re picking for the vase, watch out for the sharp thorns on the stems. From past experience, I know they’re painful!
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are one of my favourites. They flower over many months and they come in a huge mix of colours, from pale pastels to vibrant hues. Both Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds also offer gorgeous bi-coloured varieties. Sow the taller varieties for picking and they will flower about 100 days later. The dwarf varieties flower sooner (70 days) but the stems are too short for the vase. Snapdragons will grow in full sun or partial shade.
Celosia plumosa can be sown from now until December. Young plants are susceptible to damping-off (a fungal disease that attacks seedlings), so don’t let them get too cool or moist. The hot pink, red, gold or orange plumes appear from midsummer, but they need plenty of sun and warmth to put on a good show. Grow in full sun and light soil.