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PlantFiles: Four O'Clock, Marvel of Peru
Mirabilis jalapa 'Broken Colors'

Family: Nyctaginaceae (nyk-taj-i-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mirabilis (mih-RAB-ih-liss) (Info)
Species: jalapa (juh-LAP-a) (Info)
Cultivar: Broken Colors
Additional cultivar information: (aka Broken Colours)

Synonym:Mirabilis jalapa subsp. lindheimeri
Synonym:Mirabilis lindheimeri

One vendor has this plant for sale.

32 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)
Gold (Yellow-Orange)
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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25 positives
1 neutral
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive garyloveslucy On Mar 24, 2014, garyloveslucy from Jefferson City, MO wrote:

I don't understand the negative comments. I have grown this plant in central Missouri for years. I bought the original plant from a grower in the south that said it was from the original strain - probably before all the hybridizing. Mine are violet\magenta solid coloring, come back every year off their own tubers (I am zone 6) AND have the MOST BEAUTIFUL fragrance of any "annual" I have ever smelled. They smell like jasmine but with a little more sweetness. I have no idea what variety I have, but I get hundreds of seeds every year, and they have NEVER been invasive. I can't imagine how big the tubers must be by now. I grow them with Butterfly Ginger in a protected spot - these even come back every year too.

My mom used to have the speckled, multi-colored varieties but they never had a smell. Mine are beautiful smelling. The plant is getting a bad rap for no reason. I love them! It only takes a whiff to appreciate them!

Negative Joseph_humus On Dec 4, 2012, Joseph_humus from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is extremely invasive !!!! Water , No water , Sun, No sun, Extreme heat, Extreme cold (or as cold as it gets in zone 9, Florida) If left unchecked,,,,some of the root tubers can grow to nearly the size of a one gallon plastic pot. It resembles/rivals a very large sweet potato in size. If you miss removing every last particle of this root tuber, it will grow again. It seeds, and seeds, it travels. It entrenches itself like I've never seen.The only positive is its daily flowering, and the sheer mass of green material that can be added to mulch pile, which you risk , unless it is an extremely hot pile of mulch, distributing throughout your entire garden. Thrives in part shade in Florida and like everything else that is considered to be "miniature" or low growing it can reach lengths of 3-4 feet in length sprawling across lawns beds,,, sometimes in it's tangled mess I've seen them grow up to 6 feet long if not "butchered" with impunity constantly. I warn people about them constantly, but if someone truly has no idea of how to grow anything at all and has no "green thumbs" this is the one for them...Very difficult to kill it. The dry tubers can actully be put in dry storage and they will still come back with a renewed strength it seems. I do like it,, was hard to give it a negative response ,,,, but really enough is enough. Do not plant this unless you really love it , and enjoy weeding alot. LOL

Negative jazzy1okc On Sep 26, 2012, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

When I first moved here, bought a house, and began gardening, I was seduced by the name "Marvel of Peru" and the lovely photos in garden catalogues. I couldn't resist ordering seeds and planting them in the front garden the very first spring. Only when they bloomed did I realize that I had the same plant, growing wild, with different colored blooms, in my back yard! I now have about four different colors of Four O'clocks in my yard. They easily survive the winters here, drop millions of seeds, and are extremely invasive. The only way I've found to remove them is to use a good shovel and to weed constantly in the spring and summer.

Neutral Skeptic On Apr 9, 2011, Skeptic from Austin, TX wrote:

I got one plant from a friend, it now has turned into 1 million of them. It doesn't need any watering.

Is it edible?

If it's edible, I can save $ on grocery bills.

Positive kerri_67 On Feb 9, 2008, kerri_67 from Shoalwater, WA
Australia wrote:

I live on the Western Australian coast, in a region that's notorious for it sandy soil. I had a plant pop up next to my back fence which didn't look like a weed, so I stuck it in a pot.

It soon started flowering, and between about 6.30 and 8pm I have gorgeous pink and yellow blooms come out. Some of the blooms are almost all yellow, some are almost all pink, whilst some are about half and half (all on the same plant).

I had no idea what the plant was, so took some photos down to the local nursery. It took a good hour of pouring over books with the nursery owner to find that I have a Four O'clock, or Marvel of Peru.

I absolutely love this plant, and with the seeds I'm collecting, intend to plant them in the back sandy corner where nothing else will grow. I know they will do well there, as that's where this original plant grew up from.

Positive rebecca30 On Nov 8, 2007, rebecca30 from Cary, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Really nice bloomer. Mine is still blooming evenin early November. Lots and lots of blooms.

Positive mooncat On Nov 4, 2007, mooncat from Stillwater, MN wrote:

i have attempted to grow 4 oclocks from seed, but due to the last few winters being very unusual up here, i have had little luck. last spring i planted some tubers which i purchased from the garden store. they grew very well, produced plants that were a healthy 3 feet high. although they were described as multi-colored blossoms, they in fact were single color - intense magenta, yellow, white. i have had them seed themselves in the past - at different locations in minnesota - thus, i have let many seeds go where they will. i have also dug the tubers (which, by the way are about 4 times bigger than the ones planted last spring) and will try to over winter in dry peat and cool temps. we will see what happens. i live in the woods , with very little for sun - the 4 oclocks all did well with uneven sun. the deer left them alone until just recently - now the deer are carbo loading to get through the winter, so they eat things they have generally left alone all summer. that's ok, they were here first!
also, this summer here was very weird - many of my friends remarked they had alot of "texture" in their yards this summer - many perennials that usually bloom heavily, did not bloom or bloomed very late. my morning glories did not bloom until september 23. the 4 oclocks were late also. i think we will be suffering through many unusual things up this way.

Positive dicentra63 On Sep 2, 2007, dicentra63 from West Valley City, UT (Zone 6b) wrote:

Some of my plants came up solid fuschia, but most came up streaked. They do indeed bloom late in the evening.

Positive DMgardener On Jun 24, 2007, DMgardener from (Daniel) Mount Orab, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

My 4'o' clocks are doing very well, even though I set the seeds out right before the rare exstermly hard frost they are undaunted and are staring to bloom, unfortnely they are less then a foot tall.

Positive Hineni On Aug 26, 2006, Hineni from Paris, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Vigorous reseeders, haven't noticed a fragrance but my yellows were taken over by the fuschia; perhaps only the yellow are fragrant? Easy to gather seeds, grows just about anywhere and the colors are lively and vibrant. They even continue to grow after they fall over from being to heavy...LOL!

My only complaint is that after a hard rain later in the season they get all the dead flowers hung up in them and look pretty icky for a little while.

Positive leggie On Aug 9, 2006, leggie from Gillingham
United Kingdom wrote:

This beauty just appeared in my garden 2 years ago. In the autumn I collected the little black pea like seeds and started them off the following spring on the kitchen windowsill. I planted them out once they were about 3 inches high and every single plant took. They do not seem to survive the winter here, but are so easy to grow from seed that doesn't seem to be a problem. They do tend to self seed, but are easy enough to pull up if they are in the wrong place. I have never seen them anywhere else in England, and just love the variety of colours on each plant. Would be interested to know if anyone else has them here in the uk, and also where it came from to start with??

Positive Anitabryk2 On Jul 19, 2006, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant wintersowed well. Plants put out an abundance of flowers. I haven't noticed much of a scent though. I have them in containers as well as in the ground.

Positive blackbunny On Jun 6, 2006, blackbunny from Provincetown, MA wrote:

I planted one of these from seed (Burpees) next to my west-facing front door four years ago, and it has come up from its root, perrenial style, for the past three years! I live on Cape Cod, Zone 6. Last year when it came up it was over three feet tall...I was surprised to see it emerging this week, again, and am eager to see how big it gets this summer! It grows in a bed of bearded iris, which it doesn't seem to interfere with. It's a gorgeous plant, and makes lots of babies. Maybe I'll offer it as a seed trade this year....

Positive AndyGram On Apr 13, 2006, AndyGram from Herndon, VA wrote:

These plants are easily overwintered in climates where they are not hardy. Just dig up the tubers around the first frost date, throw them in some peat moss and put them in the basement until Spring. I am still enjoying plants that were sown from seed four years ago and they come back stronger each year.

Positive Gabrielle On Jan 27, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Four O'Clock is not hardy in zone 5, but is easily grown as an annual. The flowers open in the morning and evening, and are so fragrant when they are open.

I have read that you can dig the tuber up and save it like a dahlia; I am trying that now to see if it will work.

Positive ineedacupoftea On Oct 25, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

My own notes: Sometimes "Quatro en Punto" in Spanish. In the summer heat mine are barely a 10 o' clock, but stay open all day in cool fall weather. I agree that 50% of progeny are solid colored, so I pull these immediately to preserve the strain as they reseed. I suggest (In hot places) growing the plants where the sun will either not touch them first thing in the morning or in the later evening so that the flowers can be enjoyed longer before they are smitten by old Apollos spear. Hummingbirds in my garden are attracted to only flowers with pink in them.

An easy to grow heirloom of novel late-season interest.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Oct 15, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

My method for fourty years is to weed them where they ain't wanted and to leave them where nothing else will grow. And they will grow in the hottest, dryest, narrowest, parts of the property alongside blazingly hot fences and walls. Then they grow into perfect spheres of green leaves and kaleidascope flowers.
A horticulturist friend uses Mirabilis tuber/caudex's grown in pots as an example for his classes. After a few years they look like expensive " fat plant" bonsai when raised up out of the soil a bit. Only with beautiful flowers-ha.

Positive staceysmom On Sep 20, 2005, staceysmom from (GayLynn) Appleton, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

These grow with great vigor in northern Wisconsin. I sow them directly into the ground right around Memorial day. I have not found that the bees like them. We have a hive very close by and have yet to see bees on them. I do however see lots of hummingbirds enjoying them. I have also found that of all the different colors of my 4 o'clocks, the white ones seem to open earlier than the other colors. Strange.

Positive Don_Quixote On Aug 24, 2005, Don_Quixote from Bilbao
Spain (Zone 9b) wrote:

It's a beautiful flower but it's not a Four OClock flower but Half past Six flower in my case (Northern Spain, with warm Summers)

Positive heycharlie On Aug 4, 2005, heycharlie from San Jacinto County, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Blooms better in poor soil with regular watering.
Sand at our location E-Tx and clay in NW Ar.

Positive panwali On Aug 4, 2005, panwali from MANRESA
Spain wrote:

I grow from seed plants with yellow flowers and plants with red/fuchsia flowers and although both varieties are fragant the yellow one is distinctly more fragrant. In my case it is also more an "8 o'clock" than a "4 o'clock", but it depends on temperature and the amount of shade and humidity they take. The best site to make the best of the fragance is a patio, where the scent can accumulate in the evening.

Negative JerseyGardener1 On Aug 3, 2005, JerseyGardener1 from Deal, NJ wrote:

The flowers on this plant are really quite pretty but its not a "4 O'clock" for me its an "8 O'clock". So I rarely get to see it open. As per the fragrance I don't know what this hubub about it being fragrant is. I stuck my nose right in it and couldn't smell a thing and I don't have a cold. Because it opens so late and has no (as reported) smell (though it is easy from seed and the blossoms are pretty) I will give it a negative. If you just like to try things though and like variegated blossoms you could try it.

Positive llebpmac_bob On Jun 18, 2005, llebpmac_bob from Zephyr
Canada wrote:

I started these plants from tubers that I bought at the local hardware store. First time I'd ever seen them like that. The tubers were about the size of my little finger. Plants took a couple of weeks to show above ground but then they really took off. All of mine were yellow unfortunately-or perhaps not since they were in a largely yellow bed, and were a mass of flowers over a long period of time. Even when not open they added a certain amount of colour. By the time I dug the tubers up in the fall they were closer to the size of parsnips. They store the same way that dahlia tubers are kept and you get a much bigger plant, much sooner this way- assuming you are growing them outside their hardiness zone.

Positive Kim_M On Jun 11, 2005, Kim_M from Hamburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Pretty easy to grow. I haven't seen them bloom yet. This was my first year starting them. With a Name 4 O'clock...I would assume they open in the evening. I don't think the plant deserved a negative when this is the nature of the plant.

Positive TNPassiflora On Jun 9, 2005, TNPassiflora from Oliver Springs, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have grown the broken color (pink & yellow) version of "Four O' Clocks" for 3 seasons now sucessfully here in Zone 6b, so-it can withstand our winter temperatures of around 10-35 degrees F. The plants die down in the fall & pop up again from the tubers in late spring, and also self-seed a lot! The plants are heat-loving, and the moisture/ humidity seems to promote rapid growth & blooming. But they are also somewhat drought tolerant because I had to pull out a lot of new ones the other day to give the bigger ones room to grow (even if you try to gather the seeds, you'll miss some and get lots of volunteers). I put the young plants in a couple of buckets with just a little water (planning to plant them elsewhere later-but ran out of time!) and they are still green and fresh-looking after 4 days--so, this is a very easy plant to grow. Here in Tennessee they tend to open in the 4 to 6 o'Clock timeframe. Mine have done best when they have a wall or fence to grow up against and often need staking. The fragrance is lovely as well as the flowers!

Positive ozland On Feb 16, 2004, ozland from Healesville

Hi! I used to live in Queens, NYC where a neighbor had it growing in the front yard. It was small, maybe no higher than 15 in. But now I live in Australia and, having seen the bush in a neighboring garden, gathered seed to plant in my garden. This year the plant is flourishing beyond my expecation and has grown a whopping 67 inches tall. Some flowers are yellow, some pink, and many muti-colored. There's no disappointment with this plant. The soil here is clay and that doesn't seem to pose a problem.
And it does have a wonderful fragrance. That's something I never noticed from the plant in NY.

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 2, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I've just read that four o'clocks are a trap plant for Japanese Beetles. Apparently the plant attracts them, but once the bugs eat the plant it poisons them! I wish I had known this when I was living in a Japanese Beetle infested yard near Atlanta, Georgia.

Positive onalee On Sep 30, 2003, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Fragrant night bloomers! Plant near your bedroom window or patio/porch where you can enjoy them in the evenings. Very easy to care for - in Florida prefers shade to full sun - but will survive drought periods due to tubers. Easily self sows or may collect seeds. Seeds are very easy to handle/collect and plant.

Note that when planting these Kaleidoscope/broken color four o'clocks from seeds, they may or may not produce the same effect in the new plants. Some will come up as solid pink or yellow, while others will carry on the broken colors. My experience has been about 50% will be broken color while the other 50% will be either pink or yellow solid four o'clocks.

Positive Lavanda On Mar 20, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is a native of Mexico.

In my experience, these open during warm months at about 3-4 pm in the afternoon (hence the nickname or popular name of "four o'clocks".

However, I have observed these in Mexico, Louisiana and Texas only. Perhaps in more northern climes they open later.

These plants self-seed very easily, and the seeds are fairly prominent, so they are very easy to collect and save or share.

Negative Crimson On Feb 2, 2003, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Flowers open in the early evening, so plant where you will see them at dusk.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
Cave Creek, Arizona
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Concord, California
Elk Grove, California
Hayward, California
Hesperia, California
Pleasant Hill, California
Weldon, California
Clifton, Colorado
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Niceville, Florida
North Port, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia
Braselton, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Folkston, Georgia
Hawkinsville, Georgia
Jonesboro, Georgia
Jacksonville, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Saint Charles, Illinois
Plymouth, Indiana
Dubuque, Iowa
Louisville, Kentucky
Hessmer, Louisiana
Pineville, Louisiana
Brooklyn, Maryland
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Stillwater, Minnesota
Magnolia, Mississippi
Marietta, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Blue Springs, Missouri
Conway, Missouri
Jefferson City, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Denville, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Bronx, New York
Cicero, New York
Ronkonkoma, New York
Bessemer City, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Mount Orab, Ohio
Newark, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Albany, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Charleston, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Pelzer, South Carolina
Brentwood, Tennessee
Clarksville, Tennessee
Cleveland, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Lafayette, Tennessee
Mc Minnville, Tennessee
Oliver Springs, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Crosby, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Livingston, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Rye, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Auburn, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Appleton, Wisconsin

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