My recent post on wildflowers had one prominent variety missing from the list. The Four O'clock flower or Mirabilis Jalapa. Growing next to railway tracks and roadsides, they come in several hues. The most common ones are- dark pink, white, yellow, and pink with white lines.
The flowers are so named because they open in the afternoon when the temperature drops. They close the next morning except on dull and cloudy days. The plant is multi-branched and the blooms are tubular. The long tube is suited to long-tongued nectar-feeding, night-flying pollinators.
Mirabilis jalapa is also known as Marvel of Peru. This native of South America has now become naturalized in tropical and temperate climes.
The plant does well in full sun or partial shade. Propagation is easy. Through seeds and its tuberous root. The seeds resemble pepper seeds. I've succeeded in growing it from stem as I couldn't yank out the root. The stem just above the root gave away and I planted that portion. That was in January. Now tiny white tubes have sprouted. Can't wait to see whether those pink lines will also be there! As of now, the pink variety has self-seeded. There are quite a few plants in unlikely places rooting:) for new homes/pots!
The above photographs are of the ones in my pots. The blooms in the last photo were picked from the roadside and promptly put in a vase in my kitchen. I remember reading that "Mirabilis" means wonderful in Latin. An addition that's surely welcome in any garden.
Glory be to God for dappled things- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first flowering shrub I planted on our land
Every flower is a soul blooming in Nature.-Gerard De Nerval
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself? -Henry David Thoreau