Mirabilis jalapa [mih-RAB-ih-liss, ha-lap-a] is one of the most widely grown species of the family Nyctaginaceae.
By the way, the Bougainvillea tree is also in the Nyctaginaceae family.
The plant is native to Peru, also cultivated in Myanmar and tropical regions in America.
It goes by several common names including:
- Marvel of Peru
- Four O’ Clock Flower
- Miracle Flower of Peru
- Beauty of the Night
- Four O’Clock Plant
Mirabilis Jalapa Care
Size & Growth
Miracle Flower of Peru is a tender, and bushy perennial plant featuring an erect stem and grows up to 2′ – 3′ feet in height.
Since it is a fast-growing plant, it quickly grows to maturity.
The green-colored, ovate leaves have pointed ends and grow up to 4” inches in length.
In contrast to its small size, the roots of the Four O’Clock Flower are long (a foot or more) and very heavy (they can weigh up to 40 pounds).
Flowering and Fragrance
The flower’s bloom time is from early or mid-summer to fall is the most distinctive feature of this plant.
They come in a variety of striking colors, such as red, yellow, white flowers, magenta, and pink flowers.
But, what’s more, interesting is many times, a single plant can produce flowers in different colors.
In rare cases, the plant can produce bi-colored flowers.
Another distinct feature, unlike most plants, its flowers open in the late afternoon or sometimes at dusk and only last till the next morning.
It is this interesting plant characteristic that gave rise to one of its common names – the 4 o’clock flower.
This flowering plant has tubular flowers or funnel-shaped fragrant flowers, but just like the flowering pattern, the fragrance can vary.
Sometimes, the flowers of the marvel of Peru plant have a sweet and strong scent, but at times, they do not have any noticeable fragrance.
Due to their bright colors, the flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds so it makes for a great pollinator.
Also pollinated by long-tongued moths, such as the sphinx moths or hawk moths and other nocturnal pollinators attracted by the fragrance.
Light & Temperature
The 4 O’Clock Flower can grow in full sun as well as part shade.
Although the plant species is winter hardy, it thrives in warm weather.
Mirabilis jalapa is grown as an annual in USDA hardiness zone 7 – 10.
Watering and Feeding
Once established, Miracle Flower of Peru plants do not have any special watering or feeding requirements.
They can easily grow in any rich potting compost with regular watering.
However, when the tubers are planted, water them with about an inch of water and maintain the soil moisture for the first couple of weeks.
After the two weeks, reduce the watering to once a week.
An inch of water, once a week, is enough to keep the plant hydrated in the growing season.
Soil & Transplanting
Mirabilis can easily tolerate different types of garden soils. However, the soil needs to be well-drained and stay consistently moist.
Mulch around the plants to keep the soil moist and the plants blooming.
Grooming and Maintenance
4 O’Clock Flower is a low-maintenance plant and does not need regular trimming or pruning.
However, since its stems are brittle and weak, they may need to be supported to prevent breakage.
How to Propagate Marvel of Peru
Propagation is carried out through seeds and roots.
When using four o’clock seeds and sowing directly in the ground around the first frost, wait for the end of the frost season.
Sow seeds indoors for about 6 to 8 weeks prior to the end of the frost season and transfer them to the ground when the last frost date has passed.
When using roots, dug the tuberous roots in fall and stored them in a minutely moist medium in a dry and cool corner of the garage or basement throughout the winter season.
Plant the roots after the end of winter. This ensures better flowering.
No matter what method of propagation you use, make sure the planting location receives 4 to 6 hours of full sun daily.
Under optimum conditions, the plant can self-seed.
The seeds germinate rapidly at a temperature of 64° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C).
Four O’ Clock Flower Pest or Diseases
4 o’clocks are not susceptible to any serious pests or diseases.
However, aphids can attack during the summer months. Spray plants with a blast of water to remove the aphids. If the pests still exist use an insecticide. We like Neem oil a natural insecticide for plants.
More on –> Natural Aphid Control
Miracle Flower of Peru Uses
Mirabilis jalapa plant has traditionally been used for treating a variety of health problems.
Apart from the medicinal uses, the marvel of Peru is widely cultivated for ornamental purposes and known as an aphrodisiac.
Its colorful flowers add instant beauty to gardens and parks.