Marvel of Peru

Mirabilis jalapa or Four o' Clocks

I’m pretty sure I did a post about this pretty self-seeding annual last year or the year before.  Anyhow it’s doing so well this year I had to give it a bit of the spotlight.  The Mirabilis jalapa or Four o’clocks are the most commonly grown ornamental of the species.   Mirabilis in latin means wonderful and Jalapa is a town in Mexico.  They were exported from Peru in 1549 so they are also known as ‘The Marvel of Peru’.  The range of colors is astounding in just one plant.  Mine go from deep pink to a yellow with pink speckles to a blend of the two colors.  As their common name says the flowers open in the late afternoon and bloom all night.  Therefore they are polinated by long-tongued moths such as the Sphinx or Hawk Moth as well as other nocturnal polinators that are attracted by their sweet scent.   Some common uses for this plant include edible crimson dye for cakes and jelly, diuretic made from parts of the plant, root is used in the treatment of dropsy, leaves are used to decrease inflamation and the powered seeds are used as cosmetics. They are perennials in zones 9-10, but come back from seed very easily in other zones.  I planted mine from seed years ago and have had volunteers ever since.  You will need to deadhead regularly to keep them from self-sowing everywhere.  This is a perfect plant for xeriscaping since they are quite drought tolerant.  Which worked out really well for my garden this summer.  🙂


11 responses to this post.

  1. Oh yes they are hardy indeed.

    Yep pretty much indestructible. 🙂


  2. I really like the variegated yellow/pink ones. My four o’clocks were more like nine o’clocks.

    Me too, but I’ve seen lavender and white ones that are pretty too. Ha, that’s funny Susie! 🙂


  3. I had four-o-clocks at my old house. They came up every year…and I loved them. I really don’t have a place for them here, but I will enjoy yours. Balisha

    Me too Balisha, their such a no-fuss plant. Feel free to enjoy mine! 😉


  4. These pretty flowers have such a sweet smell–wish I had room for a bunch!

    Yep they get pretty tall and spread out too. 🙂


  5. Posted by skeeter on September 30, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I had 4 O’clock for the first time this year and loved them! I hope they have dropped seeds all over the place as I want an abundant supply of them next year! Love those multi colors you have. Wow, so luscious 🙂

    Oh don’t worry Skeeter, they will self-sow like crazy. I planted seeds 5-7 years ago and never had to do it again. Thanks! 🙂


  6. I just adore these. I got my first start from a PPSMT meeting and it’s been love ever since; though I do have to be vigilant on them self seeding everywhere. I have had no luck with pinks but yellows are great here. I even threw some in the ditch out front and there they grow like crazy and bloom nicely. Love em! The best part for me is the scent. It is my very very favorite scent in the garden. Those mixed ones are so cool!

    Yep their a great plant for areas that are tough to plant. They don’t require any work other than deadheading or thinning out in the spring. The scent is my favorite part too. 🙂


  7. Wonderful, these are such a great old-fashioned annual…I’m always amazed at just how profusely they reseed!

    Me too Scott, they will take over completely if allowed. But the seedlings are easy to remove in the spring. 🙂


  8. Thanks for sharing your pictures of the 4 o’clocks. I do not have any in our garden at this time. I always liked them in my grandmothers garden, they are something I would like to add.

    You are quite welcome Sherry. This is easily fixed, they are very easy to grow from seed. 🙂


  9. These are very pretty.

    Thanks Les, I think so too. 🙂


  10. Very interesting, Racquel–I had no idea these flowers originated in Peru. I can remember my mother planting them years ago and collecting the seeds from them, so I just assumed they were native to the U.S. This is the first year I planted any here, and I agree they must be tough–one of the very few annuals I started outdoors from seed that survived this dry summer!

    Yep I thought they were native too considering how well they have adapted to my climate. They are so easy to grow from seed and don’t seem to mind whatever Mother Nature throws their way. That’s a good thing with the summers we’ve been getting lately. 😉


  11. hello, i just came in from Tina’s In the Garden, my first time here. Those colors are lovely especially the variegations. They are easy to propagate and we have them here too, however only the red color is available. I hope some white seeds will be roaming around so we can breed in time for those variations. thank you.

    Hi Andrea, thanks for stopping by today. Aren’t they fun? I love how much the brighten up the garden with their cheery colors. Good luck! 🙂


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