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Colorado Four O'Clock

Colorado Four O'Clocks

Mirabilis multiflora

Common names: Showy Four O’Clocks, Colorado Four O’Clocks
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'clock Family)
Synonym: Mirabilis glandulosa

Habit: Vibrant deep pink, broadly tubular flowers bloom in 5-lobed cups growing in leaf axils of this bushy plant. The repeatedly forked stems of this perennial, forming stout, leafy clumps 18 in. high and up to 3 ft. wide. Flower stems are solitary in leaf axils and in clusters at the ends of branches. Large, showy, five-lobed, magenta- purple flowers, open in late afternoon and closing in the morning. Flowers 1-1/2 to 2-1/8 inches in length. The showy pink flowers are actually made up of fused sepals; Nyctaginaceae plants have no petals. The foliage is dark green. Leaf Arrangement: Opposite. Leaf Shape: Cordate. Fruit: Seeds are large, not abundant, dark, often ribbed, and are shaped like miniature hand-grenades. Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep.

USA: AZ , CA , CO , NM , NV , TX , UT. Native Distribution: S.w. CO & UT, s. to n. Mex. Native Habitat: Open, sandy hillsides & mesas; juniper & pinyon communities; 2500 to 6500 ft.

Culture: Water Use: Low. Light Requirement: Part Shade. Soil Moisture: Dry CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium. Propagation: Seeds, Softwood Cuttings. Seed Treatment: Seed must be scarified or stratified. Soils: Dry, rocky soils. This rapidly growing native plant is long-lived and undemanding. It is useful as a ground cover, is used for erosion control, and is attractive draping a retaining wall. It can be mowed off at ground level in October.

Uses: Four-O’Clocks are well-suited to both sun and partial shade, and are perfect for livening any bed or border with a blast of color. Great for the perennial garden and borders. Uses: Wildlife: This night-blooming species is visited by many nocturnal insects, including the hawkmoths Sphinx chersis and Eumorpha achemon, as well as pollen-collecting bees visiting at dusk and dawn. Also attracts hummingbird and quail.

Notes: Two similar species occur in totally separate areas - Greens Four-oclock (M. greenei), on dry slopes in northern California, and MacFarlanes Four-oclock (M. macfarlanei), in canyons in northeastern Oregon and adjacent Idaho.

Mirabilis multiflora is often found sprawling in dry twigs and leaves under old Junipers and Pinyons or out in the open in a seemingly arid and inhospitable environment.


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