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How to Grow and Care For Four O’clock Plants

Mirabilis jalapa (four o'clock plants) are bushy blooming perennials. On branching stems, these tuberous-rooted plants develop somewhat pointed oval leaves. The way they blossom has given them their common name. The blooms open late in the afternoon, about 4 p.m., and stay open till the following day.

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The trumpet-shaped, five-petaled flowers are about 2-inches long and occur in various colors, including pink and red. Flowers from some four o'clock plants are multicolored, with marbling or other characteristics. This is a plant that spreads out quickly in the garden. The optimum time to plant it is in the spring.

It's worth noting that all portions of four o'clock plants are poisonous to humans and pets.

Plant Care 

Because four o'clock plants bloom in the late afternoon and evening, it's ideal for planting them where you'll see them and smell them, such as surrounding a patio. They thrive in garden beds and container plantings, and they blend in well with other plants, providing for a lovely underplanting.

Plant upkeep at four o'clock is relatively straightforward. If you don't get much rain, you'll need to water and feed your plants frequently throughout the growing season. Pruning will be required to keep them looking fresh and healthy.


Full daylight (about six hours of direct sunshine on most days) is ideal for four o'clock. Though they will withstand some shade in too shady a site, the plants may get spindly and not flower as profusely.


These plants can thrive in a wide range of soil conditions. Rich, loamy, well-drained soil, on the other hand, is ideal. It's also preferable if the soil pH is neutral to slightly acidic.


Allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to become dry before watering these plants. Overwatering, on the other hand, can lead to root rot. Mulching around the plants might assist in keeping the soil moist. Plants cultivated in containers require more frequent watering than plants grown in the ground.

Humidity and Temperature

Four o'clock plants flourish in hot weather and are frequently planted as annuals in more excellent areas outside of their natural growing zones, where they die once frost and cold fall temperatures approach. As long as appropriate soil moisture is maintained, humidity is usually not an issue for them.


In the spring, apply a balanced fertilizer and continue to feed monthly until the fall. If you have rich soil, though, you may only need to give your plants one spring feeding.

Types of four o’clock

Four o'clock come in a variety of shapes and sizes:

  • Mirabilis jalapa 'Alba' is a self-seeding white cultivar with a faint citrus aroma.
  • Mirabilis jalapa 'Jingles' blooms are tiny and multicolored.
  • The flowers of Mirabilis jalapa 'Kaleidoscope' are multicolored, with intriguing splashes and streaks of pink, yellow, and white.


When the plant is young, pinch down the main stalk to encourage a bushier growth habit and greater flowers. When the plants become ragged in dry weather, cutting them back by approximately a third will revitalize them.

Growing Four O'Clock Plants from Seed

Once the threat of frost has gone, these plants can be sown immediately in the garden in the spring. Soak the seeds in water overnight for the optimum germination results. Then, in your garden soil, put the seeds about 1/4 inch deep.

You can also start seeds within six to eight weeks before the predicted last frost date in your location. Place them near a light source and plant them in a seed-starting mix approximately 1/4 inch thick. As you wait for seedlings to appear, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Furthermore, if you let your plants go to seed in the fall, they are likely to self-seed in the garden, especially in warmer climates. If desired, seedlings can be readily unrooted and transferred to a new site. 


The tuberous roots can be dug up and stored for the winter in a cold (but not freezing) dark spot once the plant has finished blooming in the fall. Once temperatures are consistently above freezing in the spring, replant them. The tubers can be left in the ground for the winter if you live in the plant's growing zones.

Common Diseases

Pest and disease resistance is high in four o'clock. Rusts (white rust and brown rust) and various leaf spot diseases, on the other hand, might harm the foliage. Following integrated pest management strategies, such as eliminating diseased plants, spraying fungicide to stored tubers, and rotating plants from year to year, is best for areas prone to rust bacteria.

  • Four O'Clock Plants: How to Make Them Bloom

Every year, starting in June and lasting until frost in the fall, four o'clock blossom profusely. A lemony-sweet scent emanates from the tubular blossoms. Because four o'clock blooms so prolifically, it's nearly hard to keep them deadheaded (removing wasted flowers), which is great because they don't need it to keep flowering. The greatest approach to get the most blooms out of your plant year after year is to give it enough light.

  • Plants that bloom at four o'clock are prone to a variety of issues.

When grown under the right conditions, four o'clock plants are generally healthy. However, in less-than-ideal circumstances, some frequent problems can develop.

  • Leaves that Curl

Both pests and illnesses can cause curling leaves. Aphids, tiny insects that suck the sap from the leaves, are a common cause of curling leaves at four o'clock. Using a powerful spray of water from a hose or insecticidal soaps, they can be pushed off the plant.

  • Plant Doesn't Bloom

Heat could be at blame if your plant doesn't seem to be blossoming at all. They may bloom later in the evening if the weather is scorching, so your plant could still bloom overnight, even if you don't notice it. Sparse blooms can also be caused by nutrient-deficient soil. Has your soil tested to ensure that it contains enough phosphorous, which stimulates blossoming?

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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.