Ultimate Guide to Growing Four O’Clocks

When my friend told me he was growing Four O’Clocks in his garden, I could not help but laugh.

I was unaware that there is a plant called Four O’Clock, and it grows pretty flowers. On top of that, growing Four O’Clocks is relatively easy.

Generally, there are two ways to grow Four O’Clock plants, including seeds and bulbs. Find a place with warm soil and at least 6 hours of sunlight and plant the seeds or bulbs in the post-frost period. 

Four o'clock flower
Four O’Clock is a relatively easy plant to grow as you can grow it from seeds and tubers.

After my funny encounter with my friend, I promised myself that I would learn everything there was to know about growing Four O’Clock.

So, if you don’t want to be like me and get laughed at, read the article to be a pro at growing Four O’Clock.

Where Do Four O’Clocks Grow Best?

Four O’Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) has received its name for its blooming habit, as its flowers only open late in the daytime.

As perennial plants, Four O’Clocks come yearly from seeds or tubers that overwinter in the ground.

Four O’Clocks grow best in a garden area with full sun access for at least six hours daily. One can also grow these plants in a 4-19 liters pot.

four oclock beautiful flowers
Four O’Clock is a great addition to your garden, thanks to its beautiful flowers.

You can also grow the Four O’Clock in containers or as a border, but you must ensure you provide them the at least 2-3 hours of full sun with a few hours in partial shade.

While planting in a container, take a large pot and place 2-3 plants in that pot.

However, in a container or garden, you need to space them at least a foot apart to let them grow properly.

Four O’Clocks grow well on grazing as they can easily colonize areas where the soil is agitated. 

Four O’Clocks prefers well-draining and lite-supported places, so zones 9-11 offer the best shelter.

They can survive the hot climate like that of Arizona’s low desert and grow under partial shade during the afternoon. 

If you have planned to decorate Four O’Clock in the garden, the corners of raised beds will be an apt place. 

Under the optimum condition, Four O’Clocks can grow 2-3 feet in height and spread 1-2 feet in width. As the flower plants grow, they will need some support as their branches are delicate and brittle. 

When to Plant Four O’clock?

Four O’Clocks produce beautiful blooms that can be white, pink, yellow, white, or rose in shades. The flowers are funnel shade and have three stamens and five lobes.

But, to get these beautiful blooms, you need to make sure you plant this plant in their growing season at the right time.

Generally, you can plant the Four O’Clock plant during spring, after the heavy frost season has passed.

Four Oclock flower
These plants are hardy, but they cannot survive extreme frosty conditions. So, wait for the frost to pass before planting them.

Four O’Clocks loves warm soil or grounds. Based on the general rule of thumb, you need to sow the seeds of these plants during the same period as that of tomatoes. 

If you live in the low desert of Arizona, you need to start Four O’Clocks in March- June. This way, you can anticipate your Four O’Clock blooming in July-November.

For starters, get a seed starting pack and start the seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost date.

You can collect the seeds from the plant as its flowers are spent. But, be extra careful not to let the seeds fall in the ground, as they are pretty hard to find afterward.

Growing this plant, I dug up bulbs from my friend’s garden before winter and planted them in spring. I got pretty good results, and you may get the same.

Planting tubers has certain benefits over planting seeds. Like they grow more readily and vigorously, you may get good yields.

How Do you Grow Four O’Clock?

Growing Four O’Clocks may not be as hard as you imagine, but if you mess up any steps, you may regret it later.

If you do all the steps right, your plant can grow as tall as 3 feet.

You can grow Four O’Clock by seeds or by bulbs. Let’s look at them in detail below.

Method 1: Growing Four O’Clock from Seeds

Four O’Clock flower seeds are quite visible in the plant as they are black and do not grow in seed pods.

After the flower pollinates, they wither out, leaving behind these huge seeds in its sepals.

Four Oclock seeds
Four O clock seeds are huge, which means there is a greater chance for them to produce prominent plants.

Follow the steps below to grow Four O’Clock indoors and outdoors from seeds.

  • Collect the seeds from the sepals of spent blooms of the Four O’Clock flower.
  • We advise you to soak the seeds in warm water overnight to boost the moisture content of the seeds.
  • Prepare a well-draining, rich soil full of organic compost in the garden or the pot you chose for growing the seed.
  • Plant the seeds about 1/4 inches deep on the soil and cover them with 1/4 inches of soil.
  • Water the plant occasionally to keep the soil moist but remember not to overwater it.
  • You can also start the seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost to get a headstart.
  • In this process, you must sprinkle seeds evenly and cover half an inch of them with the seed starting formula.
  • Dab the seeds gently with your fingers.
  • If you have grown it in a pot or a germination tray, gently mist the soil and place that in a sunny location or under a mix of red and blue light.

It takes a week to 2 weeks for the seed to sprout into a seedling. As a fast-growing plant, Four O’Clocks can grow quickly and mature fast.

After its maturity, it blooms during the early summer month of June.

Alert!!! According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Four O’Clock seeds are poisonous and can induce stomach pain and cramping when consumed.

If you don’t keep the seeds in check, the plant may reseed, and your garden may be full of Four O’Clocks before you realize it.

Method 2: Growing Four O’Clock from Bulbs

You can grow this versatile plant using another method if option A (growing from seeds) fails.

To get the bulbs, you need to dig them up before the winter hits, or you end up uprooting dead tubers. However, in some warmer zones, the bulbs may survive the frost.

Four Oclock Bulbs
Four Oclock plant produces big bulbs that can be directly planted in spring to get yourself a brand new plant. Plus point? This plant grows fast.

Get the carrot-shaped tubers and save them for the next spring, when it is the right time to plant them.

Store the tubers in cartons, crates, or paper bags after removing the vegetation at top and make sure they get enough circulation before they can be planted.

When spring arrives, you know it’s time to plant those bulbs. Follow the tips below to gain success in the process.

  • Upturn the soil in your garden using a garden fork and mix some organic matter into the soil.
  • Take a spade and dig up a hole twice in size and one inch more in length than the bulb you have. Dig more holes and space them about 20 inches apart.
  • Identify the roots and plant the bulbs root down into the soil.
  • Fill the remaining space and ensure the top part of the tuber is 1 inch below the soil.
  • Plant all the remaining tubers in the same way.
  • Water the soil thoroughly and ensure that they receive enough light.

After about two weeks, you need to set the watering frequency to about once a week.

Planting bulbs can be beneficial as, from this method, the plant grows faster than sowing seeds.

This video might be helpful in case of any confusion!

Care for Four O’Clocks After Planting

After planting Four O’Clocks, you cannot just cross your hands without effort and expect your plant to thrive.

You need to provide adequate care and check whether your plant has all its needs fulfilled or not.

So, follow the tips below to leave no stones unturned in your favorite plant’s care.

  • Ensure Four O’Clock is getting full sunlight, as it does better when it is in sunlight for 6-8 hours daily.
  • Water the flowering plant frequently to keep the soil moist most of the time. After two weeks of planting, you can water the plant once weekly.
  • If the temperature drops below −3.9°C (25°F), you must move the plants.
  • Four O’Clocks are humidity lovers, so maintain proper humidity around them.
Humidity for Four Oclock
The ‘Marvel of Peru’ or ‘Beauty of the night belongs to Tropical America, so it has high humidity needs. Make sure to be a better plant parent by fulfilling that requirement.
  • Fertilize the plant with a balanced 10-10-10 houseplant fertilizer once a month when the plant is growing up.
  • Some Four O’Clock varieties can get huge and may not be able to grow in a pot. Inspect your variety properly before planting it in your pot.
  • If you see any wilted parts or flowers, you can prune them off the plant to maintain its aesthetics and help it conserve energy.
  • Spray neem oil on the foliage of your Four O’Clock to ensure no bugs like thrips, spider mites, or lace bugs can harm the plant.
  • Be on the lookout for rust and leaf spot diseases and take a right fungal treatment measures like Garden Safe and BioAdvanced.

Four O’Clocks are hardy plants that may not incur much trouble while growing up, but it doesn’t harm to be on the safer side.

Conclusion

Plants, with their biological clock, have always fascinated me. Four O’Clock is one of the prime examples and wonders of this whole biological clock thing.

The plant opens the blossoms in the evening for insects and to respond to the heat and temperature.

Thus, if you wish to grow Four O’Clock, begin with the seeds or bulbs and follow all the necessary care requirements!

Good luck with your growing journey.

If you want to experiment with your garden, you might want to read about growing: Roses from cut flowersKalanchoe Seeds, Bird of Paradise Flowers, and Red sunflowers.

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