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Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Posted by purpleinopp 8b AL (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 19, 12 at 11:02

Sad little plant shown below was grown from seed in OH somewhere around 1996 or 1997 at my Mom's house and, being up against the basement wall on the west side, it had a suitable micro-climate to overwinter and came back reliably every year. New growth from a tuber looks completely different from a sprouting seed, no cotyledons, larger leaves, same exact spot and color of flowers every year.

Then Mom moved to AL and I dug it up. It was about the size and shape of a football (American) with the imprinted shape of the basement wall on one side. It spent time in a pot inside at my house in OH, then Mom came to visit in summer of '05 and I gave it to her to plant in her new AL yard. For some reason, she planted it under a crape myrtle tree and it's come back smaller every year. A few months ago, I decided that since I had a sunny spot I could move it to, I would move this sad plant with about a half dozen leaves. The poor tuber had shrunk to about the size of a tennis ball and this is all its' grown although that's probably understandable since it was moved at a pretty bad time. Glad whatever ate the foliage from all of the new seed-started babies didn't find this one earlier but it does look a little chewed.

I hope it's busy growing underground again and able to enlarge the tuber in its' new spot and get back to being the huge, beautiful flowering beauty it was in the past. However, if this discussion had come up prior to moving this, it might be in a pot as we speak, only partially buried. Didn't have a clue about fat plants at the time, but disturbing it again seems like the wrong thing. I just don't know, I'll be really bummed if it dies over winter after its' long, strange trip. Being a bulb/tuber type thing, it may not even notice, but I wonder if winter dormancy would actually be best or not.

What are your thoughts? Anyone else keeping one of these as a caudex/fat plant? If so, pics?

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

I want one! The flowers are often variegated and can change colour apparently, usually opening in the afternoon, hence the name. Didn't realise it was a fat plant tho, now I REALLY want one!


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Purple, Cool! Growing 4'o'clock as a fat plant..
I Googled mirablis plant, then clicked on pictures.

First, I had no idea Mirablis had such beautiful bi-multi-colored blooms..Did you?

My outdoor Mirablis are red, orange and yellow.. Common colors.

Never thought about growing one indoors..Wonder if it's too late to dig tubers?
You plant enhancer..lol.

Your/your moms 4'O'clock's has certainly made its rounds.

Yes, they are sun lovers..My guys do well, 'south and west light/outdoors,' but would do better if the neighbors' house wasn't built. They gotta go..neighbors not my plants..lol.

Are you going to experiment, grow indoors? If you do, you really must keep us informed on its progress.
Very interesting topic.

On Google, you'll find a Mirabilis bonsai..


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

I've had them in all colors you mentioned, and sometimes you'll get a plant that makes windowpane/variegated flowers. This plant has light pink flowers.

Larry, I've not heard of the flowers changing colors. Would suspect someone had a seedling sprout near the mama that looked like one plant but with diff flowers. You never know what you'll get from any particular seed, no matter what mama plant it came from.

Don't feel like I'm in a position to experiment yet, but may be persuaded otherwise, if someone experienced encourages such over wintering in the ground. Wish me luck that there IS progress to update on!!


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Purple, I read it on the wiki, it may or may not be true but it seems they can spontaneously change flower colour one year, then again the following year!


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

It's back!


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Awesome!!! :)


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

I wish ive started the seeds of my mirrabilis sooner. Im growing mirabilis longiflora


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Awesome! I got turned on to 4'o'clocks at our last rent house, where our neighbor had them planted along our shared fenceline & they each grew quickly into 4'-5' bushes that flowered & flowered. Hers were multicolored: some orange, some yellow, some pink, some red, some more purple. I fell in love with them, they're much like my other loves outside: morning glories & moonflowers. Predictable, every day bloomers that attract hummingbirds & butterflies & all sorts of good stuff to watch.

I'd only ever seen small 4'o'clocks grown in containers & had no idea they got that large. I did not know they were tubers, but that makes sense b/c hers died back every winter & popped back up every spring. When we moved to our new place, I took it upon myself to go buy a dozen packets of mixed color 4'o'clock seeds & plant them. Mine are just now coming up & I'm super excited to see them mature & bloom this summer. If this Oklahoma bipolar spring weather doesn't kill them first, that is. :-/ I'm notorious for planting too early & having a few frosts on my seedlings popping up. But this year, we're scheduled for our last frost May 2nd & possibly May 3rd. Ridiculousness!

Purple, I just love reading your wealth of knowledge & checking out your beautiful pictures. You are certainly on your way to becoming one of my favorite people on these forums! Keep it coming, I love it! :)


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

I'd like to try that one! Hope it does well for you.

It's funny, the seeds sprouting in the beds are coming up at the same time as the plants that over-wintered, about a week ago here, so I'd say you're not behind at all unless you would have wanted to try to coddle them under lights for a few weeks.

Glad others have showed back up. I would prefer to use another not-so-sentimental plant for potted fat plant experimentation.


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Hey, Faery, we were typing at the same time. Thanks for your kind words! I keep buying more seeds too.

Hoping frost doesn't zap your seedlings also!

Sounds like you might enjoy butterfly bushes and/or Lantana. Ever let your basil make flowers?


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Purple, I don't do the whole coddle under lights thing. I sow them in the ground & then stress about the weather, LOL. I even waited longer than usual this spring & yet, the Oklahoma weather is wreaking havoc upon things still. I don't remember the last May frost we had...April is anyone's guess what's going to happen in Oklahoma (rain, hail, damaging wind, tornadoes, snow, frost, sleet, it just never gets boring!), but May? I'm praying this is a sign that the upcoming summer will be a bit cooler than the last 2 summers here of 110+ degree days for 3 months straight. That was miserable & expensive on utilities.

So far, my seedlings coming up have weathered out 4 frosts. Most of them are coming through like troopers. I'm really hoping that we don't frost again, but if we do, hopefully they'll hold out for me. I have never had a butterfly bush or Lantana. My mom has a whole bed of Lantana & it's pretty. And I haven't ever let my basil flower! Don't think I've ever seen a basil flower, come to think of it. Sounds interesting.


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Basil flowers come in long spires similsr to salvia. They attract pollinators. BEWARE, bASIL STOPS LEAF PRODUCTION AND THEN DIE WHEN IT FLOWERS


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

If you like having butterflies visit your yard, few things are more attractive to them than Lantana. If your Mom wouldn't mind, take some cuttings from her plants and literally just stick them in the ground. Water every few days if it doesn't rain. I just added pics including a Lantana cutting from last year that's growing back nicely this spring, in this discussion. Butterfly bushes (Buddleia) are just as easy to multiply, but somebody has to have one to get started. Easy to find in stores, inexpensive, or through trading. Of course BF's like butterfly bushes, HA!

Basil flowers are beloved by BF's and bees. If you have a little patch of ground to scatter some basil seeds, they should have plenty of time to make flowers this year. Then, of course, the leaves are yummy. The flowers are white, so don't clash with anything, not that exciting visually, but I've seen hummingbirds visiting them also. That gets it a prized spot in my opinion.

That's really cool your sprouts survived some frosts! Has anyone else noticed, the seed sprouts are all plain green, top and bottom. The plants coming back from previous years' tubers have red on the back of their leaves. I was very intrigued by the first one I saw in the back yard because I didn't recognize it at first, but could tell it was growth, not a sprout, and there were no weeds there to be growing back. Never know what could creep over from the abandoned yard next door though.


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

TG, where did you get that completely wrong info? Don't read that source anymore. Basil is not a true annual at all. Regardless, the definition of a true annual is that it dies after making seeds, not flowers.


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

I would like to know which colors are fragrant, I have some that don't have any scent and only want to plant the fragrant four o'clocks. Please describe♥


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock) ♥

I would like to know which colors are fragrant, I have some that don't have any scent and only want to plant the fragrant four o'clocks. Please describe♥


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

IME, the scent is not related to the color. You may want to ask on the fragrant forum also, interesting question. It would be easy to pull the non-fragrant ones from a patch though, once your plants start blooming (if not already doing so.)


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

You gals and guys got me thinking which color is fragrant or more fragrant.

My 4'o'clocks are growing but haven't started budding or blooming..As soon as they flower I'm going to sniff each bloom.

They are fragrant though. When dh sits on the couch watching tv, he says something smells good. It's definately the Miabilis. They're directly below windows.

I'd like to find a bi-color, fragrant type. There's enough space between Mirabilis and the next perennial to plant a dozen or so.


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Here's the update I promised on this tuber. While most of the other plants have been blooming for a few weeks, no sign of buds on this yet, but it's a nice size already...


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

This is blooming well, caught the flowers open early this morning. Still smells heavenly like I remember! I'll get a pic of as much of the tuber as I can soon, doubtful I'll dig it up at this point, but might, IDK. So many other things *have* to come in...

FWIW, there's also red, other pink, and red blooming from recently bought seeds. None of them are fragrant!


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RE: Fat plant, Mirabilis jalapa (4'o'clock)

Not only is this individual old plant much more fragrant than a few other late-bloomer plants (which would be spawn of the recently-bought seed ones that bloomed last year,) it's the only one that hasn't been attacked by something that I'm pretty sure is army worms. Could just be luck of the draw, but I'm starting to wonder if there's just a bunch of dud seeds around. IMO, this plant needs scent to be garden- or pot-worthy, sentimental old tubers notwithstanding.


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