Señorita Rosalita cleome a quinceañera bloom – Arkansas Online


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Senorita Rosalita cleome celebrates 15 years and 237 awards as recognition of the best cleome in the market. (TNS/Norman Winter)

A quinceañera is a celebration of a girl's 15th birthday, with its cultural roots in Mexico and throughout Latin America. While I am not exactly sure of the birthday, it was 15 years ago that our girl of the plant world Señorita Rosalita cleome won her first award. Today she has won 237 of the top awards in the country and changed the world forever when it comes to using the cleome in the landscape.
Before the arrival of Señorita Rosalita, gardeners were concerned about growing cleomes because they have thorns that can be quite painful. They also don't like the fact that cleomes reseed — a lot — with thousands of seeds. Those two concerns kept many from growing cleome, but that all changed 15 years ago.
Señorita Rosalita is shorter than typical cleomes. It is sterile, which means it sets no seeds. It also does not have thorns, and it blooms all season long. With attributes like that, you would guess it would be an award winner. The list of awards that humbles most other plants has proved its adaptability across the entire country. This includes the 2009 Mississippi Medallion Award winner, my last year as an extension horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University.

Señortia Blanca cleome is the newest and is also an award winner with the same height and structure and Señorita Rosalita. (Norman Winter/TNS)

Cleomes are usually planted from young transplants in warm spring soil, which means we will soon be entering the prime planting season. Select a site that is well drained and receives plenty of sunlight. Morning sun and afternoon shade will also work well.
If the bed is poorly drained, add 2 to 3 inches of organic matter. Be sure to apply a good layer of mulch after planting. This helps prevent moisture loss to evaporation and deter weed growth, which competes for water and nutrients. Cleomes are drought tolerant once established. In midsummer, give them a little fertilizer, like a 5-10-5, and you'll help push them into the fall season.
Señorita Rosalita is available in a cheerful lavender-pink color. It can be used in any style of garden and in a wide variety of plant combinations. In the landscape, place Señorita Rosalita cleome to the rear of the border in a bold group. Space them 20 to 24 inches apart. They combine wonderfully with other flowers such as petunias, phlox, salvias and vincas. I've seen great combinations using them with yellow daylilies.

Señorita Rosalita cleome combines well in any style of the garden including partnered with daylilies. (Norman Winter/TNS)

Their exotic spidery flower structure allows them to also work wonderfully well in tropical gardens with bananas and elephant ears; after all, they come from South America. They fit in cottage gardens just as well and would be exceptional in public areas such as golf courses and parks. They reach close to 4 feet in height, attract hummingbirds and butterflies and offer heat and drought tolerance.
By all means if you are looking for the unusual flower as the thriller plant in mixed containers then there's no better choice. Your choices for spiller and filler plants are limitless. Some of my favorites would be Diamond Frost euphorbia or Flambé chrysocephalum as fillers and Goldilocks lysimachia.
The popularity of Señorita Rosalita has given way to two more exciting selections from Proven Winners, LLC. Pequeña Rosalita offers the same color but on an even shorter plant reaching only 36-inches tall. Newest is Señorita Blanca with the same height and blooming powers as Señorita Rosalita but a pristine white bloom.

Pequena Rosalita is shorter, reaching only 36-inches in height. (Norman Winter/TNS)

Your garden can celebrate Señorita Rosalita all summer long; get ready, it may be cold now, but spring is coming.
Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden."

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