Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Pollinator Palace

If you happen to’re wanting so as to add a low-maintenance annual flowering plant to your backyard, look no additional than the rocky mountain bee plant! These vegetation originated in western North America and southern British Columbia. They’ll thrive when grown inside their native vary with little to no human intervention. 

These vegetation had been used as a meals supply by Native Individuals, however in the present day they’re admired as pollinator vegetation that can entice butterflies, hummingbirds, and native bees to your backyard. In addition they help native wildlife for the reason that seeds are an necessary meals supply for doves and different small birds. 

These native vegetation develop tall, generally reaching as much as 6 toes! Their tall, lanky stems sway within the breeze, topped with lovely pink-purple flowers. Due to their top, it’s greatest to choose a location in your backyard the place they received’t shade out smaller vegetation. Bee vegetation (Cleome serrulata) may help create visible curiosity in your pollinator backyard when grown behind different smaller flowering vegetation. 

They readily self-seed 12 months after 12 months, which ends up in them being present in patches in open woods, prairies, and even rising in ditches alongside roads (they appear to favor disturbed floor). Cleome serrulata can survive in poor soil circumstances and is drought tolerant, making it an awesome selection for the water-wise backyard! 

As soon as established, Cleome serrulata wants little in the way in which of water aside from what it’s going to obtain from pure rainfalls. In instances of prolonged drought, it could want some further moisture. Up to now, it has additionally been cultivated to be used as a dye. 

Fast Care Information

Beeplant can get fairly tall, generally as much as six toes. Supply: AndreyZharkikh
Frequent Identify Rocky mountain bee plant, rocky mountain beeweed, stinking clover, spider flower, skunk weed, Navajo spinach
Scientific Identify Cleome serrulata
Household Cleomaceae
Top & Unfold 6 toes tall by 3 toes broad
Gentle Full solar to gentle shade
Soil Gentle sandy soil, well-draining
Water Low water, drought tolerant
Pests & Illnesses Pest and illness resistant

All About The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

Close look at C. serrulata flowers
Up shut, the various stamens of a C. serrulata flower are outstanding. Supply: Matt Lavin

Cleome serrulata, or rocky mountain bee plant, is a plant within the Cleomaceae household that goes by multiple frequent title. It’s also generally known as rocky mountain beeweed, stinking clover, spider flower, skunk weed, and Navajo spinach. Regardless of a number of the unflattering ‘stinking clover’ title concerning the scent of its flowers, it doesn’t odor all that dangerous! 

Some have described the pink, purple, or crimson flowers of this species as smelling “clammy” or “briny,” just like capers, which is sensible since rocky mountain bees are associated to the caper plant (the Cleomaceae household belongs to the identical order, Brassicales). 

The odor is just not pungent, and you actually must lean into the flower buds to odor it. This odor is how the beautiful pink to reddish-purple flowers with 4 petals have attracted pollinators for a while. Species on this household are likely to include resins that emit scents. 

Additionally, regardless of a number of the names that confer with it as a weed, it isn’t thought of invasive and isn’t a noxious weed. Cleome serrulata is, the truth is, an exquisite native plant that pulls all varieties of pollinators similar to butterflies, bees, and small birds similar to hummingbirds. Rocky mountain beeplant is native to western North America, and its habitat stretches from Southern British Columbia all the way in which south to New Mexico. 

This annual plant normally has pink flowers, however they are often reddish purple as nicely. The flowers have 4 petals and 6 lengthy stamens. They’ve an erect rising behavior of a single tall predominant stem and a number of other aspect shoots or stems that department off from that. 

The spirally organized leaves are trifoliate with three slender leaflets, and figuring out the younger leaves is one of the simplest ways to acknowledge seedlings earlier than they’ve flowered. Bee vegetation put down a really deep taproot, generally reaching as much as a foot deep. 

As soon as you start rising a rocky mountain beeplant, you’re positive to quickly have an countless provide. Cleome serrulata is an annual plant that produces fruit that grow to be seed pods on the finish of the rising season. These pods resemble small beans, and every accommodates a number of seeds. This seed is useful for the reason that bee plant doesn’t survive any degree of frost and can die within the winter. You’ll must sow annually to proceed your bee plant patch, however the seeds are very simple to gather. 

Cleome serrulata was collected lengthy prior to now, in 1804 through the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was famous at the moment that it was being cultivated by Native Individuals. It was historically used as a meals supply, a medicinal therapy, and a supply of dye for coloring material and pottery. 

A black dye could possibly be made by boiling down the older woody stems, and a yellow-green dye could possibly be made by boiling down the recent younger spirally-arranged leaves. All components of the plant are edible uncooked, cooked, or dried. Rocky Mountain bee plant tea is claimed to be helpful as a therapy to alleviate abdomen aches and cut back fever. 


Cleome serrulata leaf structure
Cleome serrulate has trifoliate leaves. Supply: Matt Lavin

Cleome serrulata species (and lots of of these within the Cleomaceae household) thrive on borderline neglect, particularly of their native vary from southern British Columbia to northern New Mexico. This makes them an awesome selection for parkways or areas in your property the place you want to make the most of the house to usher in extra pollinators. 

Solar and Temperature

Navajo spinach prefers full solar though it’s going to tolerate some gentle shade within the latter a part of the day. 6-8 hours of daylight per day will preserve your bee plant completely happy. For that reason, of their pure habitat, the lengthy stamens and slender leaflets of those native vegetation are generally discovered rising in open woods, prairies, or on roadsides the place they will obtain full solar. 

These native flowers can survive quite a lot of circumstances and will be reliably grown in USDA zones 1-10. They’ll even be present in elevations as excessive as 7200 toes. As an annual, this plant is just not frost-tolerant and can die on the finish of the rising season. It’s, nonetheless, drought-tolerant and handles sizzling summer season temperatures of 90° Fahrenheit and above very nicely. 

Water and Humidity

Rocky mountain bees are completely suited to survival unassisted of their native vary of Western North America, from New Mexico to the Dakotas. For that reason, you might by no means must water your rocky mountain bee plant in any respect! It’s necessary to water early within the spring to assist within the germination of the seeds, however as soon as they’re established and rising in the summertime, they will survive on little or no in any respect. 

As with most vegetation, water them early within the day or within the afternoon after the warmth of the day has handed. Water on the base of the plant to keep away from wetting the foliage, particularly in humid areas, to forestall powdery mildew points. As soon as the vegetation have gone to seed, watering is now not mandatory. Permit the seed pods to dry out on the plant and accumulate for sowing subsequent 12 months. 


One other good thing about including mountain bee vegetation to your backyard is the truth that they not solely tolerate however favor poor soil circumstances. The Cleome serrulata species prefers gentle sandy soil that’s well-draining. They put out taproots that may penetrate the bottom as much as 2 toes deep! Which means you needn’t fear about amending the soil at your planting location. 

Their three slender leaflets and flowers with 4 petals will be seen thriving in a roadside ditch in any case. The precise pH of the soil doesn’t matter as a lot as making certain enough drainage, as this species doesn’t do nicely in heavy moist soils.  


Rocky Mountain bee plant pods
Rocky Mountain bee plant produces seed pods that appear to be beans. Supply: Matt Lavin

Excellent news! It’s not essential to fertilize your native rocky mountain bee plant in any respect! They’re splendidly low upkeep in all facets. Not solely do they require low water and like sandy soil, however in addition they don’t require any fertilizer. 

Fertilizing your rocky mountain bee plant received’t harm it, nevertheless it isn’t mandatory. Plant it in a full solar location with well-draining soil, and also you’ll be having fun with lovely pink flowers that entice honey bees and different helpful bugs all summer season lengthy! 


The rocky mountain beeplant will be pruned for a extra compact look. Nonetheless, the pink and purple flowers of this species are significantly gorgeous when left to develop wild! Like the remainder of its household, it’s going to develop erect and tall, generally as much as 6 toes, with a number of stems branching off from the primary stem. 

Every stem will put out pink to reddish-purple flowers with six lengthy stamens. If you happen to select to prune them, prune again the aspect shoots on the plant and permit just one predominant stem to proceed to develop. This may also cut back the general variety of pink flowers. 


Rocky mountain beeplant is an knowledgeable at producing its personal seed. These are self-pollinators and create their very own fruit. As soon as the bee plant has concluded flowering for the season, it’s going to then focus its power on producing what seem like tiny bean pods. Every pod accommodates a number of seeds. 

Depart the pods on the plant to dry on the finish of summer season after which accumulate the seed for subsequent 12 months. Don’t overlook that these seeds require stratification so they may must be planted within the fall for greatest outcomes. In addition they require daylight for germination. Sprinkle them throughout your planting location after which cowl them with a fantastic dusting of sand or gentle soil. 


Cleome serrulata
Cleome serrulata flowers develop in clusters. Supply: Cletus Lee

Apart from their pretty flower petals, yet one more good thing about rising this plant is that it has no identified pests or ailments that bother it! There are some rising issues to contemplate and a few minor points which will crop up, however in any other case, the rocky mountain bee plant is trouble-free. 

Rising Issues

Most rising issues are associated to the seeds. Rocky Mountain bee plant seed requires daylight to germinate. For that reason, it’s simple to unintentionally bury the seeds too deep, stopping them from sprouting. When direct sowing the seed, make sure you cowl with a skinny dusting of sandy soil or use a minimal layer of vermiculite. Since vermiculite displays gentle, a number of the gentle is mirrored downwards into the soil, which aids within the germination of those seeds. 

This seed additionally requires stratification to correctly germinate. The easiest way to attain that is to sow your seed within the fall in order that they will expertise the pure chilly, dormant interval throughout winter. The plant itself will inform you when it’s time to plant the seed because the pods mature and dry out on the plant. Then you may crack them open and unfold the seed. If you happen to’d prefer to plant them within the spring, they’ll must expertise a pretend dormant interval which will be duplicated by putting the seeds in a humid paper towel within the fridge for at the least 30 days earlier than planting. 


There are not any critical pests for the rocky mountain bee plant! That being stated, they don’t seem to be utterly resistant to leaf-eating pests like leaf miners, aphids, and earwigs. Nonetheless, they appear to prioritize different vegetation and go away bee vegetation alone. 


There are not any extreme ailments for the rocky mountain bee plant! That doesn’t imply that they’re utterly resistant to ailments that may have an effect on the foliage, similar to powdery mildew, or that the roots are resistant to poor drainage circumstances that trigger root rot

Nonetheless, they’re usually illness resistant. It’s nonetheless a good suggestion to not moist the foliage whereas watering and keep away from planting in a location with poor drainage. These points are extra of a difficulty exterior of its native vary, significantly the place it’s humid, as this bee plant is used to surviving in sizzling and arid circumstances. 

Steadily Requested Questions

Rocky Mountain bee plant with Nevada bumble bee
Rocky Mountain bee plant attracts in lots of bees and bumblebees. Supply: USFWS Mountain Prairie

Q: Is Rocky Mountain bee plant invasive?

A: It isn’t thought of invasive, however in ultimate rising circumstances, it will probably simply self-seed 12 months after 12 months. For that reason, it’s normally present in dense patches alongside roadsides and on prairies. 

Q: Are Rocky Mountain bee vegetation perennials?

A: No, they’re annuals that have to be planted annually. 

Q: When do you have to plant a bee plant?

A: The seeds require a interval of stratification through the winter, so fall planting is advisable. In any other case, they may want at the least 30 days in your fridge earlier than planting within the spring. 

Q: The place do Rocky Mountain bee vegetation develop?

A: As its title would recommend, within the Rocky Mountain area, together with southern Canada and the western United States. It’s also discovered as far east as Ohio and as far southwest as Texas. It has even been naturalized in components of Maine. 

Q: Does Cleome like solar or shade?

A: Cleome prefers full solar however will tolerate gentle shade. 

Q: Is Cleome a wildflower?

A: Sure, it’s a wildflower. 

Q: Do hummingbirds like cleome?

A: Sure, they find it irresistible! 

Q: Is cleome toxic to people?

A: No, all components of the plant are edible, both uncooked, cooked, or dried, and have been utilized by Native Individuals in conventional medicines. 

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