Are you growing four o'clocks?

grant_in_seattleAugust 11, 2006

Hi everyone,

Are you growing four o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), and if so, how are they performing for you? I want to give them a try next year but only if they're good performers here.

If you have personal experience with them in this climate, please share. :)

Thanks as always and happy gardening,

Grant

Here is a link that might be useful: Four o'clocks from T&M

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trolley_molly

They are growing slowly (started them in the greenhouse in May, set some out in June, some in July)for me. They're all about 12-15" tall now, no buds. I don't really expect to get many blooms this year. The plan is to dig and store the roots as you would a dahlia, and hopefully next summer they will be large enough and robust enough to put on a good show.
It's quite a bit colder at night where I am (Hobart area), so you would probably have better luck in Seattle.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 6:39PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I haven't grown them for a few years but had some sensational bloom from them reminescent of Buchart Gardens. Started earlier they will bloom earlier. And I kept a tuber overwinter and grew it the next year. I've gotten too involved with tomatoes to start them the last 2 years but should do them again. They are very neat and covered with blooms. Since the seeds are large they are easy to start, too.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 1:58AM
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JudyWWW(z7/WA)

I started mine from T & M seeds about 5 years ago and have never dug the tubers but they self-seed. Often do not bloom from self-seeding until late August. jwww

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 1:50AM
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LoreeJ(z7WA)

Mine are lush and thriving here in Tacoma. They all came back from seeds dropped off last year's plants. Beautiful!
Loree

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 5:20AM
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Patrick888(z8 SeaTac WA)

I see them blooming down the street from my house every year. I assumed they were coming back from tubers, as they're in a bed right against the house & under the eave. I should go down and check for seeds...the house is vacant & due for demolition any time now.

I also planted seeds this year, both from a packet of mixed colors as well as some seeds from pink ones, mailed to me by a Florida gardener. Mine have taken a long time to get going, but some are doing better now...branching nicely. I also have a volunteer in a potted plant from a swap.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 10:03PM
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grant_in_seattle

Thanks for the replies and testimonials (there's just no substitute for first-hand experience). I will give these a try next year. I've seen amazingly happy and beautiful ones in areas with hot and humid summers, so I'm pleased to hear they'll do relatively well here. Judy, do yours from the tubers come back for you (in addition to the self-sown seedlings you mentioned)?

I really like the crazy broken-colors types, though the solids are nice as well. Select Seeds has had some gold-foliaged type, but I want to test-drive some plain-green foliage ones first. Looks like I'll add it to my T&M order.

Thanks again,
Grant

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 4:07PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

The tubers don't generally survive the winter in the ground, they have to be dug and stored. The cheap bulb vendors at garden shows sometimes carry the tubers which would give you a head start but cost more than seed.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 3:03AM
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maryinpnw(z8 OR)

If you start them from seed, when would you start, since it sounds like they take a while? Maybe early April? I've got some seed, but have never tried it.

Mary

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 11:51AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I googled them about when to start them and they say 4-6 weeks before last frost date. I suppose they could be started sooner if there is room for them to grow under lights. This link has some useful information. Many report the tubers making it through the winter, a lot of them under eaves of a house so maybe it is drier there. Tubers I had in the ground didn't make it, and they didn't continue to self-seed, either, but I am reminded how much I like them so may even try growing some in containers now, and definitely next spring will start some again. They are also very drought tolerant because of the tuber which is nice here in the PNW.

Here is a link that might be useful: 4:00 comments

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 5:31PM
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grant_in_seattle

Great replies...keep them coming. I'll definitely start them early from seed next year, and then will likely dig up and save some tubers to get a head start the following spring. I have seen the tubers for sale now and then in bulb-oriented catalogs, so I may cheat and order some if I see them in any fall bulb catalogs.

We'll have to compare notes in the spring! I did see one from my bus this morning growing in West Seattle just blocks from the Sound, facing south east. It was in full glorious (yellow) bloom, so I'm sold!

Thanks again,
Grant

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 7:46PM
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opticcurve(8 PNW)

I planted tubers in June and they are thriving. So far they are about two feet tall and covered in yellow blooms. In the past I've grown them from seed and they reached at least four feet tall.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 12:39AM
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Patrick888(z8 SeaTac WA)

I enjoyed growing them in my garden when I lived in Dallas. They volunteered quite frequently & sometimes too generously, but I liked them for their ability to hold up in the heat.

Most of those growing at the vacant house I mentioned are cerise/fuchsia/??? ... I think I also saw a smaller white one and either yellow or broken colors. If I don't find mature seeds, I'll consider going for the tubers. If I remember right, hummingbirds feed from 4:00 blooms. I grow quite a few hummingbird attractors & am rewarded with lots of hummer activity.

Patrick

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 1:25AM
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Patrick888(z8 SeaTac WA)

Grant, if you want to start with the common colors, why not pick up a packet or two of seeds at a local nursery? You should be able to get Ed Hume, Lilly Miller, Northrup King, etc. seeds for a lot less than ordering from T & M. If you specifially want T & M, I think Furney's Nursery in Des Moines carries their seeds. Just a thought. :))

Patrick

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 2:23AM
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grant_in_seattle

Hey Patrick and all,

Good suggestions of course. I usually keep an eye open for local seed sources, but I know I always end up ordering some fun things from T&M too so they're (and Select Seeds) my "default" source, but thanks for the reminder...they really shouldn't be hard to find locally.

Take care,
Grant

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 2:59PM
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jubea(7b-8a)

Mirabilis (4 o'clocks) have preformed very well for me. I live in the foothills of the Cascades east of Portland. I sowed mixed color seed two years ago and they have come back each year since. This year I plan to pull out and save the tubers of the best flower colors since natural selection seems to favor reproduction of yellow flowered plants. I prefer the fuschia colored. I grow them for hummingbird bait and they don't seem to mind what color they are.

All the best

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 11:58PM
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grant_in_seattle

Jubea, your 4 o'clocks sound really fun. Good to hear the hummers really like them. I think they're really neat plants so I'll definitely give them a try next spring. I can't wait. I really like the ones with the crazy magenta and yellow in the same bloom, so like you, I'll probably dig up my favorite tubers as insurance.

Listen to us gardeners, already talking about next year. :)

Take care,
Grant

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 12:20PM
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megan_anne(TX U.S. z8a)

Mine were started from seed and last year was their first bloom year. They all produced beautifully, gave me a ton of seed, and came back this year. Last year they got to about 3-1/2 feet tall-- this year, they're ENORMOUS!! They are now almost 5' tall-- the biggest Fours I have EVER seen!! They're now setting little flower buds and should begin to bloom in the next few weeks.

I'm in the D/FW area and we had a hot summer, so I had to water a good bit so that might have had something to do with it.

Mine are the hot pink variety, and are my husband's favorite flower ever-- which is why I planted them. :) They smell SO good, too.

Here's a picture of the flowers. They remind me of little tropical Hibiscus.

Does anyone know what the record height for Four o' Clocks is? I Googled it and came up dry.

-Megan

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 8:57AM
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flora2(7)

Hi I grew them last year with great success. This year they have been slow but they are starting to flower. I don't know if I started them too late or the fact we had a "cool" summer. In any event, I really like this plant and I will try them again next year.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 1:59AM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

Commenting on this old thread. I came across it when I did a web search on 4 o'clocks from seeds for pacific northwest. Planning for my 2014 garden in Battleground, near Vancouver WA.

All very helpful information. I grew 4 o'clocks many years ago in Vancouver, but forgot how they did. Time to try again.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 6:57PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

They were very late bloomers for me. I think they like warmer weather. Next year I will start them early indoor.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Hard to believe the more sizable tops I see here and there on minimally gardened sites aren't being made by older plants that have been coming back from the roots for some years. But I've never checked.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 4:29AM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

Found mail order sources for 4 o'clocks seeds, and ordered them. Too early, but with the short nights and cold days it's something to think about!

I think I'll plant them ahead to get a start on the season.

When I grew up in a small midwest town I had neighbors who grew 4 o'clocks. Some nostalgia there.

The big problem for me is deer and rabbits. We'll see.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 9:15AM
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