While this native plant is considered weedy, many people see it more as a wildflower and some choose to cultivate it for its pretty flowers and to attract pollinators. With some Rocky Mountain bee plant info, you can determine if this annual will grow well in your garden and improve the health of your local bees.
What is a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant?
Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata) is native to the north, central states and Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. It is considered a weedy annual, but it is also a useful plant that some people are interested in cultivating. Probably the most important reason to grow it today is to attract bees or provide a source of nectar for beekeepers. But, in the past, Native Americans cultivated this plant for the edible seeds and young leaves, as a medicine, and as a dye plant.
The erect and branched Rocky Mountain bee plant grows to a height of about three feet (one meter). It produces clusters of pinkish purple to white flowers all the way from late spring through early fall depending on location. They have striking, long stamens that protrude well beyond the petals. The flowers make it one of the showier wildflowers in its native region.
How to Grow Rocky Mountain Bee Plants
Growing Rocky Mountain bee plants is easiest if your garden is in its native range, but it is possible to cultivate it outside this area. It prefers light and sandy soil that drains well, but pH of the soil is not important. If you have heavy soil, lighten it up first with sand or loam. It grows in full sun or light shade.
Rocky Mountain cleome care is not difficult if you have the right conditions for it. Make sure you water it regularly after getting the plant in the ground and let it develop a good root system. Once it has, you shouldn’t need to water it unless you have a dry period.
You can propagate these cleome plants by seed, or remove the dead flowers to keep it from self-sowing.