Marvel of Peru or Four OClock Plant

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Lawn & Garden

Also known as the marvel of Peru, the four o’clock plant got its common name due to its flowers that bloom in the afternoon. The Latin name, mirabilis, means “wonderful”. The flowers open during mid to late afternoon and close again the next morning, except on cloudy days.

The four o’clock plant is a well-branched shrub that grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. It has generous flowering, with flowers in white, yellow, red, purple, and unusual bi-colored patterns. Sometimes, different flower patterns appear on the same plant. When closed, the flowers curl up tightly.

To grow the four o’clock plant, plant it in full sun with average-to-rich garden soil. These plants can also bloom in partial shade, although they will become lankier. They are very tolerant of humidity, air pollution, heat, and drought. After the danger of frost has passed, plant them outdoors and make sure to space them 18 to 24 inches apart. Four o’clock plants form tubers which can be dug up and stored for replanting the following year after frost. They also reseed.

You can propagate the four o’clock plant by seed or by tubers. In warm climates with a long growing season, you can seed outdoors after the last frost. For shorter season gardens, start them indoors 4 to 6 weeks ahead of planting out to get earlier bloom. Seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Four o’clock plants make a neat, low hedge and can be used for edging walks and borders or grouped in the center of the border. They’re attractive when planted near evening activities because the flowers stay open at night. Four o’clock plants also grow well in large containers.

There are different varieties of the four o’clock plant such as Jingles, which bears white, rose, red, yellow, and crimson flowers, many of them splashed with contrasting colors. Tea Time series and Afternoon Delight offer a range of colors.

The scientific name of the four o’clock plant is Mirabilis jalapa.

Looking for more gardening information? Check out:

  • Annual Flowers
  • Annuals
  • Perennial Flowers


1. What is Four O’Clock?

Four O’Clock, also known as Marvel of Peru, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Nyctaginaceae family. It is native to tropical regions of South America and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant for its fragrant and colourful flowers.

2. Why is it called Four O’Clock?

Four O’Clock is named after its unique blooming time, which is usually in the late afternoon or early evening, around 4 o’clock. The flowers usually remain open throughout the night and close in the morning, giving it the nickname ‘Hedge flower’.

3. What are the different colours of Four O’Clock flowers?

Four O’Clock flowers come in a wide range of colours, including white, yellow, pink, red, and purple. Some varieties even have multicoloured flowers with vibrant stripes or spots.

4. How do you care for Four O’Clock plants?

Four O’Clock plants prefer full sun and well-draining soil. They are easy to grow and require minimal care, but regular watering and occasional fertilization can help them thrive. Deadheading spent flowers can also promote new blooms.

5. What are the medicinal uses of Four O’Clock?

Four O’Clock has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to treat various ailments, including fever, inflammation, and digestive issues. It contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and other compounds that have potential therapeutic benefits.

6. Can Four O’Clock be grown indoors?

Four O’Clock can be grown indoors as a potted plant, but it may not bloom as well as it would outdoors in full sun. It requires bright light and consistent watering to thrive indoors.

7. Are Four O’Clock plants toxic?

Four O’Clock plants contain toxic compounds, including saponins, glycosides, and alkaloids, which can be harmful if ingested. They should be kept away from children and pets.

8. Can Four O’Clock be propagated from seeds?

Four O’Clock can be easily propagated from seeds, which can be collected from mature seed pods in the fall. The seeds should be soaked in water overnight before planting in the spring. They usually germinate within 7-10 days.

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