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Sweet Four O'Clock

Sweet four o'clock or Long-flowered four o'clock

Mirabilis longiflora
Common names: Sweet Four O'clock
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'clock Family)

Habit: This native perennial herb grows up to 3 1/2 feet tall. The stem is heavy, brittle, and sticky, with several branches near the base. The leaves are opposite. The lower leaves have stems 1 1/2 inches long; the leaves are 3-4 inches long. The upper leaves have no stem and taper to a sharp point. The branches and the flowers grow out of the leaf axils. Flower stems have many buds, but usually only 2 flowers bloom at the same time on 1 stem. The slender tube of the flower is 4-6 inches long, pure white to pinkish with a red throat, spreading into a white blossom 1/2-3/4 inch across at the opening, with 6 purple stamens extending almost an inch beyond. The flowers bloom near the top of the plant. Bloom time: Jul , Aug , Sep.

Mirabilis, in Latin, and Maravilla, in Spanish, both mean marvelous, which the flowers are. They open in the shade of the late afternoon. This native species is a close relative of Common Four O'Clock (M. jalapa), a plant originally from Mexico, popular in gardens since the Aztecs, and now commonly escaping into the wild. It has purple, yellow, or sometimes white or variegated flowers generally not longer than 2 1/2.

Culture: Easy to grow in most soils and moderate amounts of water and fertilizer. Responds well to the basic organic program. Native Distribution: Southern Arizona east to western Texas and south to Mexico. Native Habitat: Brushy canyons and banks.


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