Guide to Growing and Caring for Four O'Clock Flowers - The Grassy Root (2024)

The Four O’Clock flower, scientifically known as Mirabilis jalapa, is a delightfully versatile plant that can bring an explosion of color and beautiful fragrance to your garden. Their unique characteristic of opening up with bright colors in the late afternoon, hence the name ‘Four O’Clock’, is just the beginning of reasons why you might want to consider adding them to your green spaces. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice with a passion for plants, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about nurturing these stunning blooms

Four O’Clock flowers are native to South America but have found homes in gardens all over the world. They are well-loved for their trumpet-shaped blossoms that come in various colors such as pink, red, white, and yellow, often with a delightful fragrance that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Unlike many flowering plants, Four O’Clocks do not need intense care and can thrive in a range of conditions. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance floral addition, Four O’Clock flowers could be your perfect match.

Understanding the Beauty of Four O’Clocks

Guide to Growing and Caring for Four O'Clock Flowers - The Grassy Root (1)

One of the most endearing qualities of Four O’Clock flowers is their stunning visual appeal. The flowers can range from a single solid color to variegated mixes, and they come in a palette that rivals any artist’s color wheel. These vibrant blooms can create a focal point in your garden, or be intermingled with other plants to add pops of color throughout your space.

The Lowdown on Maintenance

Another attractive feature of Four O’Clock flowers is their minimal upkeep requirements. Once established, they are relatively hardy and can withstand periods of drought. This resilience has earned them the admiration of gardeners who appreciate a beautiful addition that doesn’t demand too much attention. That said, a little love and care can go a long way, and we’ll explore how to ensure your Four O’Clocks thrive.

The Sweet Scent of Four O’Clocks

As the sun sets and the flowers begin to open, they release a sweet, heavy scent that permeates the air. This fragrance is said to have calming effects and can transform your garden into a serene, aromatic oasis. The nocturnal blooming habit also appeals to those who enjoy entertaining in their outdoor spaces in the evening.

Why Grow Four O’Clock Flowers?

Understanding the reasons why Four O’Clock flowers are worth your gardening efforts can inspire you to seek them out for your next growing project.

Aesthetic Appeal That’s Hard to Beat

The visual impact of Four O’Clock flowers is immediate, especially when they decide to unfurl. Their compact bushes can be small, making them ideal for borders, containers, or even just filling in an empty spot in your garden. If you’re aiming for a wildflower garden or a more organized and polished look, Four O’Clocks can adapt to both with their impressive height range.

Minimal Effort for Maximum Enjoyment

You don’t have to be an expert gardener to have success with Four O’Clock flowers. They are forgiving plants that can handle variation in care, making them beginner-friendly. Even if your gardening skills aren’t polished, these flowers will reward your efforts with beautiful blooms.

A Garden that’s a Feast For the Senses

It’s not only the eyes that will enjoy the Four O’Clocks. As I mentioned earlier, the flowers offer an oh-so-thankful scent that can turn your outdoor space into a sensory retreat. The fact that they attract hummingbirds and butterflies adds an extra layer of enjoyment for nature lovers.

Planting Four O’Clock Flowers

When it comes to planting Four O’Clock flowers, setting the right foundation is crucial for their long-term growth and development.

Knowing Your Soil and Sun

Four O’Clock flowers are not particularly picky when it comes to soil, but they do prefer well-draining soil. Loamy soil is ideal, but they can also adapt to sandy or clay soils with the addition of compost to improve drainage. They are sun-worshippers, requiring a minimum of about four hours of direct sunlight to produce ample blooms.

Watering for Success

During the growing season, they are relatively drought-tolerant, but it’s best to water them thoroughly once a week, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. However, if you are growing them in containers, be sure to water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, as pots can dry out quicker than garden beds.

Propagation Potentials

Four O’Clock flowers are easy to propagate by seeds. Collect seeds from your existing plants or purchase them from a high-quality source. They can also be propagated by root division. Plant seeds after the last frost date, and you can expect blooms in 8-10 weeks.

Caring for Four O’Clock Flowers

To keep your Four O’Clock flowers happy and healthy, some regular care and maintenance are in order.

Pruning with a Purpose

Regular pruning can help maintain the shape of the plant and encourage more flowering. Remove any dead or damaged growth, as well as spent flowers, to promote new growth. You can also selectively prune to control the size and shape of the plant.

Defending Against Pests

Four O’Clock flowers can attract some garden pests like spider mites and aphids. Keep an eye out for infestations and treat them as soon as possible. You can use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap, or, for a more infestation, you may need to resort to chemical control methods.

Preparing for Winter

In colder climates, Four O’Clock flowers may be treated as annuals or will need to be dug up and stored inside for the winter. If you choose to dig them up, do so after the first frost, cut the plants back to a few inches above the ground, and store them in a cool, dry place. Replant after the last frost date.


Four O’Clock flowers are a delightful addition to any garden, offering vibrant colors, a sweet evening fragrance, and ease of care. Whether you’re looking to create a tranquil retreat or a haven for pollinators, these hardy blooms are a must-have. We encourage you to try cultivating a patch of Four O’Clock flowers in your garden, and watch as they bring joy and beauty, with their unique bloom cycle, morning through night. Remember, a little planting today can yield years of natural wonder tomorrow.

Guide to Growing and Caring for Four O'Clock Flowers - The Grassy Root (2024)


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