My Grandfather loved growing Four O’Clock flowers. They were his favorite. He enjoyed the bright trumpet-shaped flowers, which attract Hummingbirds. Annual Four O’Clocks got their name because their blooms open in mid-afternoon. It remains open overnight and closes in the early morning. They will also remain open on cloudy days. They are also noted for their strong, pleasant fragrance.
Native to tropical areas of North and South America, they are also called “Marvel of Peru”. Four O’clocks are actually perennials that are grown as annuals, in most areas of the U.S.
The bushy plants make attractive hedges or borders. Flower colors include white, red, pink, yellow, and some two-toned blooms. Because the flowers are open during the evening, we recommend you place them in areas where people will see them in the late afternoon to early evening hours.
Grow them in flower beds, borders, around patios and walking paths, or in containers.
Night Bloomers: How many flowers do you know of are open in the evening? See Moonflowers
Flowers Bloom: Summer through Fall.
Flower Colors: Pink, magenta, red, yellow, and white flowers are most common. Also, there are many other less common colors.
Plant Height: 1 to 2 feet
Annual, Mirabilis Jalapa
Four O’clock plants are typically grown from large seeds. As a result, they are easy to handle and to plant. Four O’clock seeds germinate quickly, and grow fast, up to 2-4 feet.
Keep the seed bed moderately moist during germination.
Plant Four O’clock seeds directly into the garden, just before the last frost in your area. Cover seeds with 1/4″ of soil. Space plants 12 inches apart and thin to two feet apart.
In addition, Four O’clocks can be propagated by its tubers. Tubers should be dug up in the fall and stored in the dark, in damp peat moss or sand.
Days to Germination: 10 – 15 days.
Four O’clock plants prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Note that in the partial shade they may grow lanky.
They will do well in rich, well-composted soil as they are big eaters. Keep soil moist.
Add a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice a month to encourage vigorous growth.
Keep the area well weeded while the plants are young. Then, apply a thick layer of mulch for a neat and tidy appearance.
Collecting seeds for next year is easy. Gather the FOur O’Clock seeds when the pods are dry-looking. The large seeds are easy to handle. Separate the seed from the pods. Then, allow the seeds to dry on a screen before storing them for next year.
Four O’clock fit well in borders, as small hedgerows. Try growing them around your mailbox. But, the best place to grow them is where you can see them from a window or the deck and watch the hummingbirds at work feeding on the nectar.
Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0.
Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.
Insect and disease problems are uncommon for Four O’clock flowers. If problems occur, treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.