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Connecticut Garden Journal: Telling Time With Flowers

Jun 7, 2018

Some old fashioned flowers have interesting behaviors -- take the four o’clock or the Marvel of Peru. First, this flower can have different colored blossoms on the same plant. The flowers open in late afternoon and close in the morning, in case you are wondering what time it is.

Not only do I like the flowering cycle and colorful blooms of four o’clocks, the fragrance is intoxicating, attracting hummingbirds and bees. Four o’clocks are easy to grow from seed or transplants. The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide by mid-summer and bloom until autumn.

Eventually it forms a black, carrot-like tuber that can be dug in fall and stored in winter like dahlias, for replanted in spring. They also can self-sow.

Four o’clocks flower best in full sun on well-drained soil. Some people may get a rash from rubbing the leaves, so wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working around the plant.

Most varieties have multiple colored flowers on the same plant. These include white, pink, yellow, red, and bicolor blooms. 'Limelight' is a newer variety with fuchsia colored flowers and lime green leaves that offer a bright color even when not in bloom. 'Broken Colors' features striped, individual flowers.

Plant four o’clocks in a container or near a window where you can enjoy the fragrance in the evening. You can also have some fun creating a flower clock. Plant morning glories, daylilies, four o’clocks, and moonflowers in one bed. When in bloom, the flowers will open in that order starting in the morning until evening.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about viburnum leaf beetle. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.