What the $#@% are Peruvian Wonderflowers

frank_10b(10B subtropical)March 30, 2010

I just got back from Boston Garden Show and bought some "Peruvian Wonderflowers" I was told that they were hardy to zone 4 and in the "four o'clock" family.

What are they? latin name to be clear?

Are they hardy to zone 4? Will they survive in my conditions?

I paid $10 for 4 of them, is that a good deal where can I get more?

Do I want more or are they weedy?

I grow four o'clocks, are they the same thing?

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A quick google turned up "Mirabilis Jalapa." If I'm reading correctly, it looks like Peruvian Wonderflower is another common name for four o'clocks.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:31AM
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maureeninmd(z6 MD)

I am very curious about this. They were also sold at the Philadelphia Flower Show (no Latin name provided) and people were going nuts over them. I was puzzled as they seemed to be ordinary four o'clocks which grow very easily and quickly from seed. I believe they are tender perennials, and not hardy. I suppose one could dig and overwinter the tuber (it's amazing how fast these plants form tubers and self-seed) but it hardly seems worth the trouble. Seemed like a rip-off to me but maybe I am missing something?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:48AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

see this page

Here is a link that might be useful: info

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:42AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)
    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:44AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

When I first saw the term 'four o'clocks' on these forums I had to look it up. Mirabilis jalapa is known as 'Marvel of Peru' over here, quite similar to 'Peruvian wonderflower'.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 12:51PM
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If they are just the same thing as four o'clocks, then is it borderline unethical to sell them as some amazing thing called "Peruvian wonderflower?" Is the name the only reason people went nuts? If I went nuts about an exotic plant only to find out they are a common heirloom, I'd feel more than a bit "had." If the flower show knew about this, would they say it's acceptable business for the vendors?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:17PM
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A gentle reminder that only botanical names have any credence. Common names are often meaningless or are applied to many different plants. If you buy a plant knowing only a common name, you are gambling. Most of us gardeners are gamblers so all is not lost.

My MIL on Long Island had a patch of four o'clocks growing against the south side of the house in full sun and surrounded by a stone patio--so a warm, sunny, protected location in zone 6. They were completely hardy there and bloomed profusely every year with no care--no winter protection, fertilizing, anything. So there is hope.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Just adding if someone does not know that the "wonder" or "marvel" of these flowers in some of their common names is that they open every day promptly about four o'clock, hence the common name known to many of us. So they are great for late-day activities like a drink before dinner...but not so great if daytime appearance is critical.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:34PM
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Actually, four o'clocks bloom in the late half of the day only after it cools down or the sun stops hitting them directly, and remain open into the night. Put them on the east side and their blooming time tends to start about four o'clock, or later on a very hot day. Put them on the west side it is much later, like 8 or 9 o'clock before they open. They don't know the actual time of day, just the pattern of the sun/heat on them.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 3:46PM
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maureeninmd(z6 MD)

Interesting. Makes sense, as mine bloomed very late, 8:00 or so, and looked weedy most of the time. There are much better night-bloomers.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:08PM
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I love to smell these, but they reseed everywhere. My aunt has these every year. Hummers like them too.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:20PM
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Nancy zone 6

I think there have been discussions on GW forums before, I was under the impression they are common 4 o'clocks. I would be surprised if they would overwinter in zone 4, although mine overwinter in a sheltered spot.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:07PM
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frank_10b(10B subtropical)

How do we contact the BOS flower show organizers, this is really just a scam
Its a ashame that with so few real plant vendors out of all the home improvement shops that of the few ones ones that are there this one is a scam

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:29AM
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Why is it a scam? Calling a plant by a common name - like 'Peruvian Wonderflowers' - is perfectly acceptable and also totally unregulated. It is just a common name - a nickname - not the name by which the plant is scientifically identified. Common names vary all over the world and from location to location, even within the same region. And there is nothing to stop anyone from inventing their own common name for whatever they like.

Sure, it is a bit of a marketing ploy (anything termed 'wonderflower' is intended to draw attention and buyers) but it is more a case of buyer beware. If you don't know what the plant is - its correct botanical name - then you pays your money and you takes your chance!

Did anyone ask the vendor what the correct botanical name of the plant in question was? If they couldn't identify it, then I would think twice about purchasing. Generally vendors that don't know/won't use scientific names don't know beans about the plant either.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Frank, I feel for you. While they do have every right to call a plant by its common name, I absolutely think them saying it's in the four o'clock "family" when it really is exactly the same thing as a four o'clock puts the transaction on the radar as unethical selling. I would imagine the flower show would not like their reputation to be such that people expect to carry a catalogue of correct Latin names so as to check every sale. If it were me I'd enjoy my four o'clocks and get lots and lots of mileage out of the story when you show people your wonderflowers all the way from Peru (which they are), but I'd call the flower show, too. My sympathies to you.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:17PM
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frank_10b(10B subtropical)

Thank you for all of the info, its really helpfull!

Just a question, will the seeds for four'oclocks over winter in zone 4? Will they seed and sprout on their own?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:01AM
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sunny_daze_gardener(5 MI)

Years ago, I grew four o'clocks on the east side of my house. They did bloom in the early evening. They did not winter over, but some of the seeds wintered over every year. I would go out there and move them to where I wanted them. They were beautiful.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:39PM
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friend of mine just gave me some of these things last week, as well as another bulb called The Flowering Fern. She went to the Garden Show in Savannah and bought these bulbs and she gave me a sheet tuck in her bulb bags about them....I was very skeptical when i first saw them because I have 4of clocks everywhere and any where i desire to have...seed like crazy...and they winter over here and form these massive water sucking roots and are just fine on the outer portions against woods....find it kind of clever how they are following the garden show circuit and makin cash.....hmmmm...have not planted but will plant with caution

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 2:17PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Your 'flowering fern' might turn out to be Incarvillea delavayi if it has a tuber.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 3:09PM
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I avoid any plant/seed seller that uses made-up common names for plants (this is generally accompanied by a lack of botanical name identification). Beyond confusing the buyer, it's often an indicator of a poor quality operation (I've noticed this in particular as regards mail-order nurseries). Not only can't they be bothered to get the plant names right, they also don't bother to keep quality stock, pack the goods properly etc.

When selling under a made-up name and promoting false information about the plant as described in the first post, that's consumer fraud and should at least be reported to the flower show organizers.

While four o'clocks (M. jalapa) are not reliably hardy north of zone 7b or so, there are microclimates where plants might overwinter in colder areas. A related species (M. longiflora, which has scented white flowers with long tubes) has overwintered for me in zone 6 for at least the last half-dozen years without protection, even though it's rated hardy only to zone 8.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 9:41AM
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Four O'clocks here won't open until sunset. Thats around 9PM here. Didn't love them for that reason.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 11:33PM
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We bought bulbs at the San Francisco flower show. Planted the Peruvian Wonderflower (Mirabilis Jalapa) and they came up great. We have a problem with wind knocking them over at ground level. So far no flowers - not even in the afternoon? What might be the problem?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 8:58AM
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