Four O'Clock's

(Mirabilis jalapa) Four O'Clocks are native to the dry, tropical regions of Central and South America, The ancient Aztecs cultivated Mirabilis jalapa as a medicinal and ornamental plant. This herbaceous perennial is frost tender and is grown as an annual in USDA zones 7 and cooler. This impressively heat-tolerant plant is known in the South for blooming throughout even the hottest parts of summer. The dainty flowers will close during the heat of the day and open around 4 p.m., hence the name! The blooms attract beneficial insects, moths and hummingbirds. Start indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date or direct seed, ¼ inch deep, after all chance of frost has passed. Soak seeds overnight in warm water before sowing. Ideal germination temperature is 70-78 F. Mirabilis produces a large taproot, which makes it a drought-tolerant plant. However, it will bloom more profusely when given more water. Plants prefer full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Space plants 18-24 inches apart. Be aware that the seeds are considered poisonous.

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