September 11, 2011

It's time for Four O'Clock's

Summer is nearly over here in New England, with cool nights and nippy mornings, most of the garden plants save for the late blooming Dahlia's, Tricyrtis species (the Toad Lilies) and Japanese Anemones,   are looking ratty. The garden tomatoes have all succumbed fully and completely to Phytophera infestans, otherwise known as Late Blight, and few annuals even exist anymore. But there is one exception, Jalapa mirabilis, or the common Four O'clock, an heirloom annual few people grow anymore. This is their season.

 Easily grown from seed, and great for children to plant in late may, Four O'clock's are rarely found at garden centers in the spring as young plants, for they prefer to be seeded where they are to grow, and divided later. If you're now thinking that this is one of those fussy annuals like Scabiosa or Bachelor Buttons, or even Bread Seed Poppies, where you are instructed by trusted plant experts to 'simply scratch the seed into prepared soil in the spring" and then wait for nothing but weeds, don't worry. This annual has large seeds, like black colored peas, and the seedlings are large and vigorous. Worth searching out if you want a border that looks like the one below in August and September.
The common name comes from the fact that the blossoms indeed open late in the afternoon, and truth be told, one rarely seems to find them fully open, for they seem be closed by the time I arrive home from work, but the plants and buds are still showy, and provide a needed lushness at a time of year when there is little more than asters and mums at the local garden center.


  1. My grandmother grew these--thanks for the reminder!

  2. I too have these in my garden.
    but they have bit different colors, may another type from same family of plants.

  3. My mom grew these and I have seeds from here plants. I like the blended color one you have. I only light pink, yellow, and a deep pink.


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