Sunday, December 08, 2013

4:00 's (Four O'clocks) Mirabilis jalapa

Mirabilis jalapa image from wikimedia commonsw

Miribilis jalapa image from wikimedia commons
Looking at catalogs for next year.

When I was about 10 years old, my neighbor, a widow I knew only as "Mrs. Winklejohn" had a big patch of "4 O'clocks" near her porch.    I remember she also grew a species oriental lily - something I grow now, and she had a parakeet.

I don't know what led me to think about these flowers again.  I grew them more than a decade ago.  I don't recall much about them then.

Mirabilis jalapa originates in Peru.  It's a tender perennial that is often grown as an annual.  They have a large root that can overwinter in mild climates, or be dug in colder climates and stored for next year.  Not that I have the energy to do that.

I found some 4 O'Clocks seeds on seedsavers.org and ordered them.  Part of my effort to grow heritage flowers. 

4 O'Clocks are reported to be deer resistant.  I could not find info about rabbit resistant. 
Mirabilis jalapa historic illustration
They are considered an attractant for bees and hummingbirds.  They produce seeds that can be collected for next year, as well as the perennial roots.

I remember the flowers as being quite small - an inch or two.  In some illustrations, the flower in the illustration can be larger than the real item.

If they grow, these could be a nice addition to the bee garden.

Most articles mention the fragrance of these flowers, which open in the afternoon and evening, but not in the morning.

In China Mirabilis jalapa is called "the shower flower" or "the rice boiling flower".   

We'll see how they do.

Winter is a good time to study and reflect.

Mirabilis jalapa historic illustration 1765

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