It’s always time for four o’clocks
There are those who love four o’clocks… and there are those who haven’t yet grown them.
They’re handsome annuals or tender perennials you’ll see in old heirloom gardens, along fencerows in eastern parts of the state and in occasional well-tended landscapes of people who know how handsome they are.
My friend Mac Cantu and I somehow started talking about them at church a couple of weeks ago. He showed me photos on his phone.
I asked if he’d lend them to me for e-gardens. To our good fortune, he was willing, adding that his wife Annie’s mom had sent them seeds from New Orleans to get them started and that they’ve been collecting and replanting ever since.
Mac and Annie have done a beautiful job featuring four o’clocks in their gardens. Their landscape is lovely, the perfect complement to the bloomers.
What you need to know about four o’clocks…
• Common name: Four o’clock, because that’s roughly the time of day that their flowers open.
• Scientific name: Mirabilis jalapa
• Native home: Peru
• Often used as annuals, but root-hardy perennial in most of Texas.
• Reseeds freely which may be fine unless you’re looking for specific colors.
• Mature height, width: 30-42 inches
• Sun to part sun
• Drought-tolerant, but blooms best if not allowed to wilt repeatedly.
Excellent write-up by my friend Dr. William Welch of Texas A&M on the plant. It gives an interesting historical perspective.
Note: If you’re interested in trying unusual four o’clocks, Google for sources and look especially for small companies that feature heirloom varieties of reseeding types. Here are a couple I found.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
https://www.reneesgarden.com/collections/flowers/four-oclocks/ (They say they’re temporarily out of stock. They may be waiting for the 2022 seeds.)
And the “big kids” have them, too: