Mirabilis jalapa, commonly known as the Four O'Clock Plant or Marvel of Peru, is a flowering perennial plant native to tropical regions of South America. It is widely cultivated for its colorful and fragrant flowers that open in late afternoon, giving rise to its common name.
Key Characteristics of Mirabilis jalapa:
Flowers: The most notable feature of Mirabilis jalapa is its trumpet-shaped flowers that come in a range of colors including pink, red, white, and yellow. What makes these flowers particularly interesting is that they open in the late afternoon, around 4 o'clock, and remain open through the night, closing the following morning. This unique flowering pattern contributes to its common name "Four O'Clock Plant."
Foliage: The plant has simple, ovate to lanceolate leaves that are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves are usually green and can vary in size.
Fragrance: Many varieties of Mirabilis jalapa emit a pleasant fragrance, especially in the evening when the flowers open. The fragrance can be more pronounced in some colors.
Growth Habit: Four O'Clock Plants are herbaceous perennials that can grow to a height of about 2-3 feet (60-90 cm). They have a bushy growth habit and tend to spread if left unchecked.
Adaptability: Mirabilis jalapa is known for its adaptability to various soil types and climates. It is commonly grown as an annual in colder climates where it may not survive winter temperatures.
Germination Medium: Prepare a seed-starting mix or use a well-draining potting mix. Fill small pots, seed trays, or seedling cells with the germination medium.
Sowing: Plant the cleaned Mirabilis jalapa seeds about 1/4 inch deep into the germination medium. Place one or two seeds per pot or cell.
Watering: Water the soil after planting to ensure it is evenly moist. Keep the soil consistently damp but not waterlogged during the germination period.
Warmth and Light: Place the pots or trays in a warm location with plenty of sunlight or under grow lights. Maintain a temperature of around 70-75°F (21-24°C).
Germination Period: Mirabilis jalapa seeds typically germinate within 1 to 2 weeks, but it can take longer in some cases. Be patient and continue to provide the appropriate conditions.
Transplanting: Once the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the garden. Space the seedlings about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart. Choose a sunny to partially shaded location in your garden for planting. Ensure the soil is well-draining.