Q. How can I grow and care for Mirabilis?
The most common mirabilis species that is grown as a garden plant is Mirabilis jalapa, also known as four o'clock flower, marvel of Peru and wishbone bush. It is a member of the Nyctaginaceae (Bougainvillea) family. The four-o'clock designation comes from the fact that the flowers don't open until late afternoon (although on a cloudy day they may open earlier). Mirabilis is grown for its ability to produce a profusion of colorful flowers under many garden conditions. The trumpet-shaped flowers can be bright yellow, white, and magenta, often striped with pink, orange, or yellow (often all on the same plant). Mirabilis also has the advantage of being drought-resistant and relatively deer-resistant.
Mirabilis is a tropical plant from Peru and grows as a perennial only in the warmer regions of the Untied States. In colder regions (USDA zones 3 - 8) it is grown as an annual. It prefers moderately fertile, well-drained soil but is quite tolerant of other conditions. It flowers more profusely in full sun.
Mirabilis is easily grown from seeds. The seeds can be sown directly outdoors following the last frost. Alternatively, they can be started indoors seven or eight weeks prior to planting outside. Since the seeds are quite large it is convenient to sow them individually in peat pots which can then be directly planted outside when the weather is warm enough. Mirabilis plants form tubers as they grow. These can be lifted in the fall and stored in a cool location for planting out the following summer.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service