Always Late

“Always Late”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


My four o’clocks are always late.  They are late even when you consider we are now on daylight savings time.  Even if they are on Eastern time zone time, they are late.  The old-fashioned four o’clock flowers (Mirablis jalapa) don’t start opening up until after 7 o’clock at night around here and aren’t fully opened until almost eight o’clock.  Even on cloudy days when it is reported the flowers will open up early, ours don’t open until it is almost dark which makes them very hard to photograph.  You can still see them, especially the lighter colors, and, of course, you can smell them.  They really can perfume the night air.

I got my first four o’clocks from my son-in-law’s mother who had them growing all around her pool.  These were the fushia-colored ones.  Now, when I occasionally dig up a tuber, I am shocked at how large these gift ones have become.  Not too long ago, I was planting in the garden before the 4 o’clocks emerged and thought I had come across a log that had been buried in the ground.  It was no log, but a huge tuber.  I have the fushia ones in the “pink’ garden, though I have gradually replaced many with other perennials.


Fushia 4 o'clock (redu)


About two years ago, I found a local nursery that was selling 4 o’clocks, which is unusual, and they had white and yellow ones in addition to the fushia.  I didn’t need the fushia, but I did pick up two of each of the white and the yellow ones.  The yellow went into the “circle” garden which is predominately yellow flowers, and the white ones went into the “white” garden that I have dedicated to my dad.


Yw 4 o'clock (redu)


Wh 4 o'clock (redu)


The white ones have produced seedlings, but I am sure they will not be white, but a mix of the others.  These plants produce a lot of seeds, but it is very easy to pull out the ones you don’t want.  Also, I find that if they are in a well mulched area, the seeds do not germinate as much.

These old-fashioned flowers deserve to be in more gardens.  They are attractive, night-bloomers which makes sitting outside on a warm summer night an enjoyable event, and these old garden flowers bring a little bit of grandma’s garden to our modern world.  So, even though they do not bloom “on time”, I still love having these night bloomers in the garden.



  1. Jake said,

    July 12, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Those are very pretty blooms. I have heard from a guy in Atlanta that says his Four O’ Clocks don’t open until 7 or 8 at night, wierd.


    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm

      Jake, it seems from all the comments, that many people’s are opening later. I do remember my grandmother growing these and hers always opened in late afternoon, maybe five o’clock but never as late as mine. I wonder if there has been some change in the genetics.

  2. Randy said,

    July 12, 2009 at 5:04 am

    I think they are wonderful, but my goodness, I’ve been trying to get rid of them from my garden for 14 years now. LOL–Randy

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm

      Randy, I make sure and pull out any I don’t want when they pop up in early spring. I also trim back some if they get too big. They do persist though.

  3. Janet said,

    July 12, 2009 at 5:58 am

    My Four O’Clocks open at the strangest times as well. The time I see them open the most is in the early morning. Mine are both red and yellow, no whites. I used to have them in the front of the garden….now are moved to the far back.

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

      Janet, it seems we really do grow so many of the same plants even though we are zones apart. Mine rarely are still open by morning. Taking a late evening stroll around the garden is when I see mine at their peak.

  4. autumnbelle said,

    July 12, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Wow, this is an interesting plant. It would be nice to have some flowers that bloom at night in a garden. The flowers are brightly colured too.

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      If you want an absolutely fabulous night blooming plant, you need to try night blooming jasmine. This is another old-fashioned plant that has flowers with an unbelievable fragrance. I have mine near the patio, and its late summer blooms are always eagerly anticipated. I’ll post about this when it is blooming.

  5. Sweet Bay said,

    July 12, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I love Four o’ Clocks too, and mine are always late as well. My most fragrant one is one with fuschia flowers — the scent is heavenly!

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm

      Glad to see, mine are not the only tardy ones. I would like them to bloom at least by six o’clock so that I can enjoy them more. I wonder if it is our high temperatures that are delaying the blooms. I don’t remember them opening so late before.

  6. sallysmom said,

    July 13, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Mine haven’t started blooming due to the extreme heat and lack of rain. But in years past, they have always bloomed at night and would still be open early in the morning. I don’t mind that they don’t actually bloom at “4 o’clock”.

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

      I think a lot of plants are not doing as well as they should because of the sudden, high heat that came in June. Some of my four o’clocks are not blooming as well as they have in years past, and I feel that is the reason.

  7. virginia said,

    May 16, 2010 at 12:44 am

    I’m looking for the name of a yellow flower in my mom’s garden that opens around 7pm also. Does anyone notice their 4oclocks shake and pop right before blooming. My children get a real kick out of these flowers and I would like to find out more about them!

    • Jan said,

      May 16, 2010 at 2:40 am

      Virginia, could the night-blooming yellow flower be evening primrose? I’ve never noticed the four o’clocks shaking before the bloom, but then, I’m usually not around just before the flowers open. I love these old-fashioned flowers, and mine are just starting to come back from the winter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: