F for Four O’clocks

Categories: Plants and Seeds.


4 o’clocks or Marvel of Peru or Mirabilis jalapa is an annual plant where I live in Canada.  The blooms of many colours usually open in the late afternoon, all night and close up the following morning.  The plant likes full sun and grows just under 1 meter in height.  I’m Canadian zone 5b which is the equivalent of USDA zone 4b.  In warmer climate zones this plant can be grown as a perennial.  I need to dig the root each year and save it in a cool, dark place so that it can be planted the following spring.

seeds and seedlings

four o'clock seed ... http://www.craftygardener.ca/four-oclocks/

4 oclock seedlings

Sow seeds outside in spring after the last frost.  Plant 1/4 inch or about 75 mm deep and approximately 2.5 cm or 1 linch apart.  Cover with soil and gently pat down.  Seeds can germinate in about 5 to 10 days.  Thin when seedlings are about 2.5 cm tall.  Plants like a sunny location but will grow in poor soil.  If you prefer you can start the seeds inside about 4 to 6 weeks before planting outside.

Last year I got some established roots from Veseys.  I had read about the tuberous roots but never seen any.  These tubers can be dug and replanted the following year, which is what I did.


Here are a couple of the tubs that I planted up on May 3, 2013 of this year.

deck corner

After growing the plants this way I don’t think I will go back to growing from seed again.
All photos of the blooms were taken in 2012.
I didn’t get the roots potted up till early June last year and they quickly started to grow.  They bloomed from the beginning of August and in a variety of colours.
A wonderful surprise was a multi coloured one.  I was out early in the morning to capture some photos of this beauty.
As the bloom finishes a little pod appears.

Be sure to leave it on the plant till it dries out and opens up.  Inside you will find a little seed just waiting for you to pluck out.  Plants can self seed, but not always,  if you let the seeds drop.


I had tied a bit of yarn around each plant last year… the colour of the yarn depicted the colour of the bloom.  Because no matter how much I tell myself I will remember what colour of plant is in what pot, I don’t always remember.

As I gather the seeds I pop them into an egg carton.  The top  and bottom row in the above photo has each section labelled with a colour of the 4 o’clock seeds.


When the seeds were all dry they were stored in paper envelops all ready for seed swapping, gifting to friends or planting another year.

Printable seed packetseed label


This year I have 3 big pots right by the kitchen door and the blooms are visible whether I’m inside or outside.  Because of my knee surgery I haven’t spent a lot of time working in the garden, but I can still enjoy it from the deck.

ABC Wednesday is up to F.  F for four o’clocks.

Alphabetical posts


More from The Gardener Side

plants … seed info … veggies & herbs … bulbs, corms, tubers

the gardens  … whimsy in the garden … garden printables
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  1. I used to have 4o’clocks, love them, started from the seeds every spring. I don’t have any now, too many moves.
    The yellow & white flower are my favourites but I like all the colours.

  2. Robin

    Hi Linda, probably thirty years ago my parents brought home some four o’clock seeds from Portugal. The next year we all planted some in our gardens and grew them for the next twenty years. Somewhere in one of our moves I lost my seeds. I think my sister still grows some every year. Yours are beautiful!!

    • They certainly are the flower that keeps on growing. I have the roots that I dig each year and over winter. I also save the seeds for Seedy Saturdays. I frequently. Wish I lived in a climate zone where I could leave them in the ground … perhaps that is as I get older 🤣

      • Mary

        I live in Kansas USA and I guess it is now considered a warm climate, we now have a mild winter, and these four o’clocks have taken over my flower garden. They get about 4 ft tall and spread seeds everywhere! Be careful what you wish for because I don’t know how to get rid of them.

        • You would need to dig the whole root to remove the plant. It is quite a big tap root, so dig deep. Another way is to remove the flower after it opens and don’t allow the seed to develop. Where I live the cold weather kills off the root so it is really an annual. We can dig the root, store it, and replant the following spring, hence a tender perennial.

  3. Linda

    Hey Linda…
    My late MIL always grew these…sweet little blooms.
    Hope your recovery is coming along…
    Linda :o)

  4. Oh all so pretty . I haven’t been doing my blog very much nor have I been reading blogs much either have been having months of comment problems lots of blogger blogs have oh well . Any who hope your recovering well and glad you can get outside more now it makes a lot difference when recovering from surgeries or illnesses . Nature does the soul and heart good.

  5. Volunteer pink four o’clock flowers have popped up in our yards for the last 8 years, at least. We just let them be. I had no idea they came in other colors or that their roots could be replanted the following year.

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