A beautiful plant with amazing flowers which open late in the afternoon and close again the next morning, hence the name ‘Four o’clock plant’. This plant has an amazing number of other common names: Four o’Clock flower, Marvel of Peru, Purple Jasmine, Jalap, Mirabilis jalapa, Maravilla, Clavilla, Bonina, Gul Abas, Hendirikka, Anthi Mandhaarai, chandrakantha, and others.
Flowers are quite unique with various colors on every plant, mostly pink, yellow, orange, red, purple – you can also find unusual bicolored flowers. Flowers are also very fragrant. They really stand out in the garden and are great in pots, as ground cover or to fill a dull spot, pretty well anywhere.
Mirabilis jalapa forms a well-branched, bushy shrub from 1 to 3 feet tall, but is best kept pruned to avoid a straggly habit and to encourage even more flowers.
(Image by coolgarden.me)
How to grow four o’clock?
The four o’clock plant is very easy to grow and besides needing regular pruning is very low maintenance. They always look great and the flowers really stand out and provide great color. This plant has tuburous roots which hold water for the plant, making it very drought hardy and tough.
There have been reports of this plant being used medicinally also; the Peruvian people used it as a diuretic, the flowers have been used to treat colds and flu and headaches. It’s also used to wash wounds, treat intestinal parasites and treat fungal infections. The roots and seeds however should be considered toxic and we do not recommend using it for these ailments.
The four o’clock plant will grow well in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions. In cooler climates, it will die down in winter and re-grow in spring. It is best grown in full sun for best flowering. Any soil will do as this plant is not a fussy one, generally a well draining, rich soil is best, but it will perform pretty well anywhere. Because the flowers stay open at night, they’re attractive when planted near evening activities – such as lighted pools and patios.
Propagating four o’clock
By seed or by tubers. In warm climates with a long growing season, you can seed outdoors after the last frost.