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Four O' Clock Flower Tubers

The Four o’clock success in the garden continued this month when I was digging around the garden and discovered the Four o’clock tubers. I went from harvesting four o’clock seeds that I couldn’t germinate, to having a successful germination rate this year and even four o'clock blooms. In a previous post a garden commented that propagating four o’clocks vegetatively was easier than growing them from seeds and the reason I searched for these tubers in the garden.
Four o'clock flower tubers.Mirabilis jalapa, marvel of Peru

Here’s a photo of some of my four o’clock tubers growing in the garden. The tubers were between eight to ten inches long and the brown, tuberous roots resemble woody carrots. The roots of four o’clock are supposed to get even bigger in warmer climates. Can you imagine? These tubers are the result of one season’s growth in a garden with less than ideal growing conditions. I never would’ve imagined that a handsome shrub with beautiful flowers would emerge from something so ugly.

Planting Four o'clock flower tubers. Mirabilis jalapa, marvel of Peru tubers

Four o’clocks  prefer to grow in full sun and in my garden they were growing in shade so I dug up the roots to transplant to a relative’s garden where they will should grow fine in a sunnier spot. When I transplanted the four o’clock tubers I planted them a little deeper than they had been growing in the hopes that they’ll survive the winter. The other reason I planted them deeper was because the knobby stems were looked to be hardening along the joints and I figured they would probably root from there. I hope they enjoy their new garden and grow as nice as the shrubs I saved seeds from.

If there are four o'clock shrubs growing nearby you should save some of the seeds. Here's a video showing how easy it is to harvest seeds from four o'clock plants.


  1. I started to ask you to stop posting about Four O'Clocks because I failed so miserably with my first attempt to grow them. Then I thought about how hard you work for them, and that I shouldn't be expecting so much from only one try. I actually did get one bloom, but it opened while I was out of town, so I only got to see the droopy left over! Will do a little digging and see if I have a tuber. Perhaps there is hope... we are supposed to have a warm winter this year (I think). Thanks.

  2. This was one of the first flowers I grew as a child, covered one whole side of my garage. I had no idea that they produced a tuber!


  3. I had never noticed that four o' clocks had tubers but it makes perfect sense since they seem to thrive in harsh places like abandoned lots (which is normally where I get my seeds.)

  4. I never heard of four o'clocks before. This is cool.

  5. LOL, in comparison to buckthorn roots, these tubers are CUTIES! :)

  6. It has been a good while but I have just taken the four O'clock seeds and tossed them in the garden, grew every time. The tubers seem a good way to spread them just as well. Ever grow camellias from seed guess not up there in the windy city.

  7. @Webb, LOL. If you got one droopy flower check for a tuber. The two plants that did the best produced a lot of seeds. I had one like you decribe, it was a pinkish bloom and I only saw it bloom once because it was shaded by a boxwood. Anyway, I dug around and it had a tuber too so you should have at least one also.

    @Gatsbys, You tuber "hedge" sounds like the one I collected my seeds from originally. I sorta knew that they produced tubers, but I'd never saw one in person before.

    @Kat, I got my seeds in an abandoned lot too. They grew there with no maintainance or water to speak of other than rain water. They're very hardy plants.

    @Meemsnyc, Really? They're one of those plants that are considered "old fashioned" along with hollyhocks and you don't see them in all the garden centers like you used to. You should plant some around your new garage.

    @Monica, Ha! I hope to never have to deal with those.

    @Randy, I know they're suppose to be easy from seed, but they just do not like me one bit. I've never grown camellias from seed, mostly because I've always thought they were picky. If I thought I'd have any luck with them as plants I'd give them a shot.

  8. Recently I have been reading planting bulbs in autumn then the flower will fluorish in spring. Rooting in the cold autumn and winter soil... oh I am so fascinated. As you know we have only one weather that's hot and rainy throughout the year. I never realised that root can grow in the cold ;-) Your tuber is looking good. I believe it will survive :-D

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  9. how deep do plant roots my email is

  10. Anonymous5:08 PM

    I collected 4 o'clock seeds from a friends plant. I bought a 6 inch deep pot from walmart added compost & threw the seeds in. Yes, just tossed them in. then scattered soil over the seeds until they were covered, maybe 1/2 inch. I dampened the soil with a spray bottle daily. Placed them in a window sill. They are growing. 1st time I ever heard of 4 O'clocks & 1st time I ever planted them. LOL actually I never grew anything from seed before..

  11. Anonymous4:53 PM

    I started with one or two of the Four o'clock plants, and now they are all over the place. One "tuber" I dug up was bigger than the largest sweet potato, that you can even imagine. It was heavy and large, as fat as a large grapefruit and the thin tap root was almost one foot long. When digging them out, I noticed that unless you get every last piece of it, the broken part left in ground seems to grow a whole new plant. It reminded me of how to plant potatoes. Pieces will regrow whole new plants. Has anyone else experience this? Joseph Laurence , St. Petersburg, Florida 33707 Zone 10a/9b

  12. DavidLMO4:47 AM

    Do not understand why people have hard time with seed. For decades, I have had about 100 % germination.

    Now I mostly save and replant tubers. Gives you weeks earlier bloom and you know what color you will get.

    Dig when you dig up dahlias and plant likewise.

    The whole plant can be wintered over inside, but by February it looks like a horrible skeleton. Heh

    BTW - the root will not grow from the stem "knobs".

  13. Suzanne2:46 PM

    I have been trying for 5 years to grow these in Northern California, I have succeeded marginally some years, others not so much, only got one bloom this year:( I first saw them In Oceano, where they are considered invasive!! I have one tuber. Do I dig it out now and keep it dry over the winter? It does freeze here.

    1. Anonymous9:19 PM

      I live in Eureka Ca., We have had one growing in our yard since 1949 when dad planted it when he was 9 years old....It comes up every year. It also freezes here on occasion. We never did anything with it, except for watch it grow every year. :)

    2. Anonymous5:52 PM

      I had tons of them growing right up against my house that have wintered there for over 20 years. I had to move them so we can paint the house and now they're out in the middle of my yard. Digging them once was enough for me, even the smallest of the tubers was as big around as my arm and close to a foot long. I intend to cover them with straw and hope they survive the winter.

  14. Anonymous10:29 PM

    I recently bought an old house that had had no yard work to speak of. I noticed that the old garden spot had 4 o'clocks coming up everywhere, which made it hard to mow. So thought I would just pull them up... NOT,,, So I got the shovel to dig them up. Not just tubers,,, the tubers were about the size of watermelons and VERY heavy. I don't know if I got all the smaller roots, but at least for now it is easier to mow. I love the flowers,,,, but not when they take over my yard.

    1. Anonymous5:44 PM

      I dug up lots of huge old 4 o'clocks a few weeks ago and moved them to a different spot. They sure do get big!

  15. I am from North-Central Wisconsin zone 4 - I grew 4-oclocks growing up. I had read back then like in the early 80's so started digging like dahlias, and they did bloom sooner... but they grew well even from seed...

  16. You can pick the moist seeds just as they have turned from green to brown and plant them immediately without letting them dry out. The ones I planted that way seemed to sprout much faster. If storing seed then let them dry completely.



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