Thursday, September 11, 2008

Four O-Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa L.) 煮飯花

An old fashioned favorite, four o-clocks are a fast growing bush plant. They grow to about 36" with oval lance shaped leaves and trumpet shaped, fragrant flowers. Flowers may be shades of red, pink, yellow, white or striped. Mirabilis is a wonderful addition to an evening garden. Once even one flower opens, a rich fragrance is released into the surrounding air.

The plant thrives in all zones, blooming in early through late summer. Four o’clocks thrive in ordinary soil in full sun or partial shade, sending up numerous volunteer seedlings every year (even in cold parts of the country.)

Seeds may be sown directly into the garden in the Spring in warm areas. In other areas, start the seeds indoors about eight weeks before the final frost date in Spring for transplanting. Seedlings may be set in the garden at about the same time you would plant tomatoes. Allow about 12 inches between plants. Roots are tuberous and can be stored for planting in the Spring. Plants can also be divided in early Spring.

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