Colorado Four O'clock, Showy Four O'Clock, High Desert Four O'Clock

Mirabilis multiflora

Family: Nyctaginaceae (nyk-taj-i-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mirabilis (mih-RAB-ih-liss) (Info)
Species: multiflora (mul-tih-FLOR-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Mirabilis multiflora var. multiflora



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall




Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

Bessemer, Alabama

Deatsville, Alabama

Flagstaff, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona

Kingman, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Florence, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Mc Intosh, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Carrollton, Georgia

Boise, Idaho (2 reports)

South Roxana, Illinois

Saugus, Massachusetts

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pahrump, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Mesilla Park, New Mexico

Colcord, Oklahoma

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Sand Springs, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Hamlin, Texas

Logan, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 31, 2016, ttkc from Houston, TX wrote:

Bayfield Colorado zone 4
I have had mostly good luck buying the plants. They do reseed but only where they want to. Every fall, I scatter the seed hoping they will " take" but so far , no luck. When I have soaked, scarred and planted, they have not even germinated. They seem to like poor soil, even dry gravel.
If you try to dig one up, be sure you dig really deep, as this plant has a tap root, and try not to disturbed it anymore than you have to.
Beautiful late season color. After blooming, it dries up and blows away, then reimerges late spring. I have mine planted next to Russian Sage which also blooms late summer and it is a striking combo.


On Feb 11, 2016, lokidog from Logan, UT wrote:

The seeds benefit from a sanding - or breaking of the seed coat and then soaking in warm water. Stratification can also help, but it is still questionable whether this helps, and it may depend on where the seeds were from (colder areas may require this). I have found that especially with older seeds this is not necessary. Put them in moist (not wet) perlite in a re-sealable bag in the fridge for a couple months after the scarification and soaking. Although drought tolerant, I've found that extremely loose soils with no rain are not suitable for these. They need a little summer rain or irrigagion - about once a week when it's really hot. Also these are one of the few natives that actually benifit from some additional nitrogen fertilizer - use organic or not. I think since they tend t... read more


On Mar 19, 2015, onethingrealist from Colcord, OK wrote:

I've grown these in Tulsa, Sand Springs and Colcord, Oklahoma. The seeds look like tiny black grenades and are easy to spot and can even be picked up off the ground and saved for spreading them around your yard. LOVELY and inexpensive way to fill a large portion of your garden beds as a 'hold' until you get something more permanently installed. I use these four o'clocks, nasturtiums and zinnias to add pizzazz at low cost and hold a bed over as I begin to prepare a new spot for planting in a year or two.


On Aug 30, 2014, DesertTrip from Kingman, AZ wrote:

I first learned about this beautiful plant driving the dirt roads here in my desert area north of Kingman, Arizona. I found several of these in full bloom within a 3 mile radius, all blooming late afternoon. I had passed them all the rest of the year not knowing what they were. But once they began blooming it was hard to miss the deep and vibrant colors.

Some grew under taller brush/plants and some were in direct sunlight. Some were on the edges of (dry) washes and some on the side of the roads. Knowing what I know about them now, I just ordered seeds to plant on our berm to help with erosion control (and to add a lot of color!).


On Aug 11, 2011, herbella from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

I planted this Desert Four O'Clock maybe two years ago, but nothing happened, so I forgot about it. When it came up last year, I had difficulty remembering what it was. Although it was more than two feet wide, it disappeared completely in winter so that we couldn't even tell where it had been. However, the low-growing bush reemerged with leaves this summer. The blossoms did not reappear until August 1 this year. The flowers are still open when I am ready for bed. This year it has sprawled more than three feet wide with more profuse blossoms than last summer. It apparently loves poor soil. I planted it in an area where little else survived. Now other plants are growing around it. It is also the perfect companion to my Morning Glories. It provides a nice summer cover for something you want t... read more


On Mar 2, 2010, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

A quick note on growing from seed. Three weeks ago I soaked seeds overnight in warm water, then planted. This morning they have finally emerged. On the same starting day, I gently filed a bit of the coat, then soaked and planted. The scarified seeds came up in 6 days compared to those which were not in 21 days.


On Oct 11, 2009, BajaBlue from Rancho Santa Rita, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Another must for planting in a Xeric area. This Ricky Mountain and Rocky mountain foothills native is low growing and can spread up to 6 wide depending on water availability.

It has succulent gray-green leaves and purple-pink flowers all summer long. Any soil type, full sun, dies back completely in winter.


On Aug 31, 2007, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

When starting this plant from seed, I suggest using an extremely deep pot or better yet, planting it in the ground, as the seedlings (ans supsequent plants) have extremely deep taproots that make them all the tougher.


On Jul 2, 2005, wjasw from Hamlin, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Did a little "gorilla gardening" back in April in a neglected field that was filled with these that were growing about 4' high. I dug up the plants tubers and all (plants were about 8-10 inches tall) and transplanted them in my yard. A little on the iffy side at first as to whether they would make it but now (July) they are are tall flowering bushes.

A real delight here in West Texas with desert-like conditions.


On Sep 12, 2002, megabrams from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

four o'clocks bloom in the late afternoon and are open throughout the night. They can also be light pink to almost white in color.

As for collecting the seeds: The funnel-shaped flowers protrude from a papery floral cup. The fruit is a small dark seed (lemon shaped and black)that is often held in the papery floral cup, long after the blossoms have faded. Just tip the cup and the seed will fall right out into your hand when ripe! I found them to ripen in Aug./Sept. in zone 5a.