Precy loves to write about many topics, including how to grow some of the most wonderful plants in the world.
Mirabilis Jalapa - Four O'Clock
Mirabilis jalapa is known as four o'clock and 'Marvel of Peru.' Cultivated by the Aztecs not only for ornamental but for medicinal purposes as well, this native to the tropical areas of South America is a beautiful addition in the garden. It comes in different shades of color ranging from white, yellow, light to deep pink and it comes in mixed colors or stripes.
Often grown as an annual, mirabilis jalapa grows up to 1 meter with fragrant blooms which makes these sun loving plants perfect on front yards or in containers by the porch which gives the opportunity to enjoy the flowers as these only blooms in the late afternoon and through the night, closing and never to open again when the morning arrives.
Knowing Mirabilis Jalapa by Mistake
With seeds I got online for another plant I wish to have for the heavenly scent I've known since childhood, I was excited to find seeds to purchase. Waiting almost to over a week is nothing to me as the price is all worth it. Delighted when the seeds finally arrived and there's a lot in one packet, I was thrilled to start three seeds specially when all three successfully sprouted. As the three seddlings continuously grow, I started doubting if the plants are really what I paid for but brushing the thought off my head. When the buds started developing with pinkish unopened petals, only then I found out that these are four o'clock. Although they may not be the seeds I paid for, having these growing in the garden is a wonderful addition for the flowering plants.
Other Names for Mirabilis Jalapa
Prinsesa ng gabi
Bunga pukul empat
Marvel of Peru and four o'clock are just two common names of mirabilis jalapa. There are other names it is known for in different countries. In the Philippines, it is called prinsesa ng gabi which translates to princess of the night as the flowers bloom at night.
Growing Four O'Clock from Seeds with Photos
Growing four o'clock from seeds is easy. Start the seeds after last frost date or in the spring season in a well-drained soil. It isn't picky when it comes to soil but keep it moist for an abundance of scented blossoms. Mine was planted already summer season as that was when I purchased the seeds. This plant isn't only good being planted directly on the ground where it gets sunlight but it does well in pots and containers too.
Sown from seeds, young sprouts emerged from the soil within a week with roundish pair of baby leaves. The next pair of leaves are oval in shape that are pointy at the tip. These green leaves grow in pairs with veins visible on either side.
Four O' Clock Flowers
The flowers of four o'clock start as green buds often in a number of 4 or more at the tip that reaches up to 2 inches long as it grows. As the buds continuous to grow, the young petals turn from pure green to yellowish or pinkish. And as the blooming nears, the color of the unopened petals peek through at the tip giving you a hint of what color the flowers will be. Four o'clock flowers start to bloom late in the afternoon which is around four o'clock, which is how the plant got one of its common name - four o'clock. The flowers remain open throughout the night which attract moths as pollinators. These will only be open for the entire night and will be closed the following morning. The trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from summer to fall are sweetly fragrant.
Fruit and Seed
As the flower dries out the following day and eventually falls off, a green fruit remains protected by the sepals with the tip visible (referring to the photo below). Mirabilis jalapa seeds are wrinkled and black with some having a shade of brown. As the seed fully matures, they fall off the mother plant when not collected.
More About Mirabilis Jalapa
The leaves of this upright and herbaceous perennial flowering plant appears in pairs across one another on the stem where the nodes are. The leaves are ovoid in shape and are light green to green in color and can reach up to 4 inches long. Mirabilis jalapa also branches out by the nodes with a pair of leaves and an inflorescence of young green buds at the tip. Some of these buds develops ahead of the rest of the buds and they bloom first as the rest follow.
If you're planning to add four o'clock in your garden, this plant can tolerate dry soil because of its thick, tuberous and elongated taproot that are about 12 inches long or more. Also mirabilis jalapa self sows which is why some take on them as being invasive, new seedlings will pop up in your garden providing lovely flowers to look forward to. So take the time to tend and check on them and collect matured seeds.
Mirabilis jalapa was found by the Europeans in the year 1540. The flowers are used to create dye as food coloring such as in jellies and cakes.The roots of the plant was used as hallucinogen and is thought to have purgative properties as well while the leaves are used to treat inflammation by extracting the juice from boiling or mashing the leaves to treat wounds.
Mirabilis Jalapa - Seedlings, The Flowering Plant and Seeds
RTalloni on September 19, 2018:
You have reminded me of why I loved having 4 o'clocks. I definitely need to add them again. Thanks for a new look at these delightful flowers!