Garden Giveaway: It's Time for Four O’Clock Flowers


| 7/18/2011 3:45:00 PM


PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is blogging at www.patsybell.com. When not in the garden or on the road, you can find her in southern Missouri. Read more of her travel stories at Striped Pot Travel. Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook page.   

Many people have memories of four-o’clocks in their family garden. These beautiful flowers have been popular plants for generations.

Four-o’clocks (Mirabilas jalapa) self seed. Often you can find them still growing in a long-abandoned garden spot. It's an old Southern tradition to plant them near the front door. These jasmine-scented flowers will greet your guests.

In South America, where these flowers originated, four-o’clocks are used as a dye. The root is used medicinally and is said to be a hallucinogen. In herbal medicine, parts of the plant may be used for diuretic, purgative or vulnerary (wound-healing) purposes. I can't speak for any of these herbal or medicinal uses—I have only enjoyed the flowers and their fragrance.

I've also read that the flowers are used in food coloring. The leaves may be cooked and eaten as well, but only as an emergency food. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to color cakes and jellies.  



7-26-2011-four o'clocks
Four-o’clocks are also also known as the 'Marvel of Peru'.
Photo courtesy
Renee's Garden 



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