Friday, June 8, 2012

Mirabilis Jalapa Wildflower Growing Tips

The Mirabilis Jalapa is a wildflower that is commonly known as the four O’clock flower.  These flowers bloom late in the afternoon at approximately 4:00 and stay open throughout the night.  These flowers will close at dawn and will remain closed during the day, except on cloudy days.  

I grow four O'clock flowers and look forward to them blooming because they attract hummingbirds and also because of their fragrance.  I planted the magenta color close to my patio and the bi-color yellow grows close to the garden path.  I have also planted yellow mixed with the magnet in a large pot and set it on my patio. 

Photographs of my four O'clock flower gardens: 

Growing tips:

 Plant the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to the last spring frost. Purchase seed starter kits at your local garden center. Fill the planters with soil. Then dig a hole that is ½-inch deep in the center of the pot. Use the eraser end of a pencil to form the hole. Place the black seed in the center and cover with soil. Water well.  Germination takes 8-12 days.  Transplant outdoors after the threat of spring frost has past.  Or you can sow the seeds directly into the garden bed. It is best to plant when the soil has warmed to 65 - 75F; germination is usually in 14 days. 

Grow Four O’clocks in full sun to part shade to shade in the afternoon when the sun is the hottest.  If your summers are extremely hot (95 to 105 F) then the four O’clock will benefit from part shade in the peak heat of the day.   Plant in well-drained soil, okay to grow in poor soil.  The plant will flourish if you amend the soil with compost or manure.  Space plants two feet apart. Keep the soil evenly moist until the plant fills out and gets a bushy appearance.  Then water as needed.  I generally water every morning with a soaking hose. The slow drip at the soil line is a good way to provide roots with hydration.

I grow magenta, white, yellow and pink four O’clock flowers as a backdrop to my stone patio.  These perennial flowers return every year due to our mild winters here in zone 7.  Both my husband and I enjoy sitting outdoors on a summer night especially when the air is perfumed by the four O’clock flowers.  What I like about this plant is that they are a large bushy with many branches.  When mature the plant will grows to almost four feet in height with a similar spread. I also enjoy the many blooms that come again throughout the late summer and fall season. When the days turn cooler the four-o’clock will stop blooming and will go to seed.


Four O’clock plants are native to North and South America.  In South America, they are called the Marvel of Peru.

Four O'clocks are perennials in zones 8 to 11.  They may be grown as an annual in other growing regions.

Mature four O’clock plant have large tuber roots.  Divide and transplant the tubers every 3 to 4 years in the spring.  
Collect seeds in the fall and keep them in a labeled envelope.  Use these seeds for spring planting. Caution: do not eat the seeds; they are poisonous.

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