About Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Rocky Mountain Bee Plant appears in the records of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, being discovered growing on the open prairie by Meriwether Lewis on August 25, 1804. Lewis entrusted his collection of flower species to botanist Frederick Traugott Pursh, who officially classified Cleome serrulata in 1817. In his diary, Lewis observes that the Native Americans would grind the seeds of this plant into flour, as well as boiling the rest of the plant for eating. This plant played an important part in the culture of many Native American tribes, being used for making dye for blankets and pottery as well as having numerous medicinal purposes.
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Germination: Direct sow in late fall, planting the seed just below the surface of the soil; these seeds need light to germinate. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 30 days before direct sowing. Keep the soil evenly moist until germination, which should occur within 30-35 days; the germination rate may be naturally low. The treated seeds can also be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost of spring; plant the seeds on the surface of a flat, keeping the moisture consistent and the temperature around 65 degrees F. This plant grows best in well drained soil, though it adapts to nearly any soil type.
Growing Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Seeds: Water the plants regularly until they become established. Mature plants also appreciate watering, though the soil should not be soggy. Remove tips of the developing stems to encourage branching and bushy growth. As the plant grows, it may need support or staking for protection from the wind. This plant may reseed, but not aggressively. It attracts bees, birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies as well as deterring rabbits and deer.
Harvesting Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: This makes a stunning cut flower, though the entire plant does have a unique fragrance that some find unappealing.
Saving Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Seeds: As the flowers fade, the plant will produce drooping 4” pods that ripen to a dark brown; the ripe seed will be light and dark brown. Remove the pods as soon as they ripen to prevent loss, since they will eventually split and release their seed; small birds also enjoy eating the ripe seed. Spread out the pods away from direct sunlight to dry completely. Split the dry pods open and remove the seed. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Beeplant, Stinking Clover, Navajo Spinach Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 18-20 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 3,200 Produces plants with narrow, blade-shaped leaves and stems topped by 6-8" clusters of pink flowers.