Four O’clock Flower

Four O’clock Flower

Pink blooms of Mirabilis jalapa. photo credit: R. Robert

Our curator, Andrew Bunting, is always planting unusual tropicals and annuals in the Scott Entrance Garden for a unique display during the summer and fall. An annual which has caught my attention this season is Mirabilis jalapa. While not of note during the typical work day, I have been lucky enough to catch this plant creating a charming display just before our work day begins at 8:30 am. Known as the four o’clock flower, Mirabilis jalapa typically opens its trumpet-shaped flowers during the evening hours.

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The closed and wilted blooms of Mirabilis jalapa, as seen during the day. photo credit: R. Robert

This two-to three-foot tall, trouble-free plant is covered in blooms during the evening, then its flowers wilt the next morning. This transition is not unattractive during the day, because of the number of closed flowers present on the plant. You may occasionally have open flowers during the day, i.e. a rainy day, because the opening and closing of the blooms is temperature sensitive.  These delightful plants will bloom from summer to fall with little to no care.

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Mirabilis jalapa in the Scott Entrance Garden. photo credit: R. Robert

Flower colors vary between red, magenta, pink, yellow, white, and bicolor. A native of South America, this plant has naturalized in some southern gardens. In our region, some gardeners may recall this annual in their grandmother’s garden. Visit the Scott Arboretum in the evening to enjoy the lovely display of the four o’clock flower.

Becky Robert
  • pat parker
    Posted at 18:51h, 21 August Reply

    I love my four oclock flower. I have a pinkish one and it sprouts up all over! I have to constantly pull the new ones out before my whole garden is taken over….but I still love them!

  • norma specht
    Posted at 19:54h, 18 March Reply

    Want to purchase these seeds

    • Becky Robert
      Posted at 08:57h, 22 March Reply

      Dear Norma,
      Just google the name and several sources will come up. Happy Planting!
      Becky Robert
      PR and Volunteer Programs Coordinator
      Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College

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