How To Plant 4 O Clock Seeds [ Full Guide ]

4 o’clock plants, also known as marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa), are beautiful and fragrant flowers that are named for their fascinating habit of opening their flowers in the late afternoon around 4 o’clock. These colorful plants come in a variety of shades including pink, yellow, red, and white, making them a popular choice for many gardeners.

Planting 4 o’clock seeds is a relatively easy and rewarding process, and with the right care and conditions, you can enjoy the stunning blooms of these flowers in your garden. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss in detail the steps to successfully plant 4 o’clock seeds, from choosing the right location to planting techniques and care.

Quick Answer: How To Plant 4 O’Clock Seeds

To quickly summarize the process of planting 4 o’clock seeds:

  1. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing weeds, loosening the soil, and adding compost.
  3. Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep in the soil.
  4. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.
  5. Thin the seedlings to allow proper spacing once they have grown.
  6. Provide regular watering and care as the plants develop.

Now, let’s delve into the detailed steps and considerations for each of these points.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting

Selecting an appropriate location is crucial for the successful growth of 4 o’clock plants. These flowers thrive in sunny locations and require well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. When choosing a spot for planting, consider the following factors:


4 o’clock plants love the sun and thrive in full sun to partial shade. It is essential to select a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day for optimal growth and abundant blooms. Insufficient sunlight can result in leggy and weak plants with fewer flowers.

Soil Drainage

The soil should have good drainage to prevent water from pooling around the roots of the 4 o’clock plants. To test soil drainage, dig a small hole in the planting area, fill it with water, and observe how quickly it drains. If the water drains away within a few hours, the soil has good drainage. However, if it takes longer, consider amending the soil to improve drainage.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

After selecting the ideal location, preparing the soil is an essential step to ensure that the 4 o’clock seeds have the best possible environment to grow and thrive.

Clearing The Area

Start by clearing the planting area of any debris, rocks, or weeds. Remove any unwanted plants or grass to ensure that the 4 o’clock seeds have ample space and resources to grow without competition.

Loosening The Soil

Using a garden fork or tiller, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches. This process helps aerate the soil, improve drainage, and create a favorable environment for the seeds to establish strong root systems.

Adding Organic Matter

Incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil can provide essential nutrients and improve the soil structure. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost over the loosened soil and mix it in thoroughly to enrich the soil.

Timing And Conditions For Planting

The timing of planting 4 o’clock seeds is critical for their successful germination and growth. It is best to sow the seeds after the last frost date in your area when the soil has warmed up and there is no longer a risk of freezing temperatures.

Frost Date

Determine the average date of the last frost in your region, as this will help you plan the ideal time for planting 4 o’clock seeds. Planting too early, when the soil is still cold, can hinder seed germination and growth.


Make sure the soil temperature is consistently above 60°F (15.5°C) before planting the seeds. 4 o’clock plants are sensitive to cold temperatures, and planting in warm soil will promote faster germination and establishment.

Planting Techniques For 4 O’Clock Seeds

Now that the soil is prepared and the timing is right, it’s time to plant the 4 o’clock seeds using the following techniques:

Seed Depth

Plant the seeds at a depth of around 1/2 inch in the prepared soil. Use a small trowel or your finger to create furrows in the soil, and then place the seeds at the recommended depth. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and pat the surface gently to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.


Space the seeds or seedlings approximately 12 to 18 inches apart to allow ample room for the mature plants to grow. Proper spacing is essential for good air circulation and to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to disease and stunted growth.


After planting, water the soil thoroughly to ensure that the seeds are properly moistened. Avoid overwatering, as this can cause the seeds to rot. Maintain even moisture in the soil to support seed germination.

Germination Time

4 o’clock seeds typically germinate within 1 to 2 weeks under optimal conditions. Keep the soil consistently moist during this period to facilitate the germination process.

Thinning Seedlings

Once the seedlings have emerged and developed their first true leaves, thin them to allow the strongest plants to thrive. Gently remove the weaker seedlings, leaving the healthiest ones spaced according to the recommended distance.

Planting 4 o'clock seeds is a gratifying process that can bring vibrant and fragrant blooms to your garden. By carefully selecting a sunny location with well-draining soil, preparing the soil, and planting the seeds at the right time and depth, you can ensure the successful germination and growth of these charming flowers.

After planting, ongoing care including regular watering, mulching, and providing support for tall varieties will contribute to the health and longevity of the 4 o'clock plants. With proper attention and maintenance, you can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these lovely flowers as they bloom daily from mid-summer to the first frost.

Depth And Spacing Guidelines

4 O’clocks, also known as Mirabilis Jalapa, are beautiful flowering plants that are known for their vibrant colors and fragrant blooms. These plants are called 4 O’clocks because they typically open their flowers in the late afternoon as the sun begins to set. They are easy to grow from seeds and can add a splash of color to any garden or landscape.

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When planting 4 O’Clock seeds, it is important to consider the appropriate depth and spacing requirements to promote healthy growth. The following depth and spacing guidelines should be followed:

  1. Prepare the soil: Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris and loosening it with a garden fork or tiller. This will ensure that the seeds have a good medium to grow in and will improve drainage.

  2. Seed depth: 4 O’Clock seeds should be planted at a depth of around 1/4 to 1/2 inch. This can be achieved by creating small furrows or indentations in the soil using a small trowel or your finger.

  3. Spacing: The spacing between each seed should be around 6 to 12 inches. This will allow the plants to have enough room to spread and grow without overcrowding each other.

  4. Planting in rows: To ensure a neat and organized look, you can plant the seeds in rows. Space the rows around 12 to 18 inches apart to give the plants enough space to grow and allow for ease of maintenance.

Watering And Maintenance Tips

Proper watering and maintenance are crucial for the healthy growth and development of 4 O’Clock plants. Here are some tips to help you with watering and maintaining these plants:

  1. Watering: 4 O’Clocks prefer slightly moist soil, so it is important to water them regularly, especially during dry spells or periods of drought. Water the plants deeply, making sure to saturate the soil around the roots. It is advisable to water the plants in the early morning or late evening to minimize water loss due to evaporation.

  2. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of 4 O’Clock plants can help retain moisture in the soil, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Use materials such as shredded bark, straw, or compost to create a layer of mulch around 2 to 3 inches thick.

  3. Pruning: Regular pruning can help promote bushier growth and encourage more blooms. Pinching off the tips of the plants when they are about 6 inches tall can help promote branching and prevent legginess. Additionally, deadheading spent flowers can extend the blooming period and keep the plants looking tidy.

  4. Staking: Depending on the variety and growth habit, some 4 O’Clock plants may require staking or support. Use bamboo stakes or other suitable materials to provide support and prevent the plants from falling over under their own weight.

Fertilizing For Optimal Growth

Fertilizing 4 O’Clock plants is essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and abundant flowering. Here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to fertilizing:

  1. Soil testing: Before applying any fertilizers, it is advisable to perform a soil test to determine the nutrient levels in your soil. This will help you determine any deficiencies and allow you to tailor your fertilization program accordingly.

  2. Organic matter: Incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil before planting can provide a natural source of nutrients and improve soil structure. This can be done by mixing in a 2 to 3-inch layer of organic matter into the top few inches of soil.

  3. Balanced fertilizer: Once the plants have established and started to grow, you can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates, as different brands may vary.

  4. Timing: Apply the fertilizer in early spring, just as new growth begins, and again in mid-summer to provide a boost of nutrients during the peak growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production.

  5. Diluted liquid fertilizer: If you prefer using liquid fertilizers, you can dilute a balanced fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it every two to three weeks during the growing season as a supplemental feeding.

Dealing With Pests And Diseases

Despite being relatively low-maintenance plants, 4 O’Clocks are not immune to pests and diseases. Here are some common issues and ways to deal with them:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that can distort new growth and cause leaves to curl. They can be controlled by spraying the affected plants with a strong stream of water or by using insecticidal soap or neem oil, following the product instructions.

  2. Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause yellowing, stippling, and webbing on the leaves. They can be controlled by regularly spraying the plants with water to increase humidity or by using an insecticidal soap or miticide specifically designed for spider mites.

  3. Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems. It can be controlled by ensuring good air circulation around the plants, avoiding overhead watering, and applying a fungicide specifically formulated to treat powdery mildew.

  4. Slugs and snails: Slugs and snails can feed on the leaves and flowers of 4 O’Clock plants, causing significant damage. They can be controlled by handpicking them from the plants in the early morning or evening or by using organic slug and snail baits.

  5. Root rot: Overwatering or poorly draining soil can lead to root rot in 4 O’Clock plants. To prevent this, ensure that the soil has proper drainage and avoid overwatering. If root rot is suspected, it is best to remove the affected plant to prevent the spread of the disease.

Planting 4 O’Clock seeds can be a rewarding experience. By following the guidelines mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your 4 O’Clock plants grow and flourish in your garden. From the appropriate depth and spacing to watering, maintenance, fertilization, and dealing with pests and diseases, each step plays a crucial role in the overall health and beauty of your 4 O’Clock plants. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the vibrant colors and lovely fragrance these plants bring to your outdoor space.

Propagation And Transplanting Advice

4 o’clock plants, also known as Mirabilis jalapa, are beautiful flowering plants that are commonly grown in gardens. They are called 4 o’clock plants because their flowers typically bloom in the late afternoon, adding a burst of color to your garden during those hours. These plants are hardy and easy to grow, making them a popular choice for both experienced and novice gardeners.

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Before planting 4 o’clock seeds, it is important to understand the best practices for propagation and transplanting. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your seeds have the best chance of germinating and growing into healthy plants.

Starting Seeds Indoors

To get a head start on the growing season, you can start your 4 o’clock seeds indoors. Here’s how:

  1. Fill a seed tray or small pots with a good quality seed-starting mix. Make sure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.
  2. Place one or two seeds in each pot, about a quarter-inch deep. Cover the seeds lightly with the soil and gently firm it down.
  3. Mist the soil surface with water to ensure that it remains moist.
  4. Cover the tray or pots with a plastic dome or plastic wrap to create a mini greenhouse effect. This will help retain moisture and promote germination.
  5. Place the tray or pots in a warm area with indirect sunlight, maintaining a temperature of around 70-75°F (21-24°C).
  6. Check the soil moisture regularly and mist it if it feels dry.
  7. In about 7-14 days, the seeds should start to germinate.

Transplanting Outdoors

Once your seedlings have developed a few true leaves and all danger of frost has passed, it is time to transplant them outdoors. Follow these steps to ensure a successful transplant:

  1. Choose a sunny location in your garden with well-draining soil. If you have clay or compacted soil, consider improving it by adding organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure.
  2. Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling.
  3. Carefully remove the seedling from its pot, being careful not to damage the delicate roots.
  4. Place the seedling in the hole, ensuring that it is at the same soil level as it was in the pot.
  5. Gently backfill the hole with soil, firming it down lightly around the base of the plant.
  6. Water the newly transplanted seedlings thoroughly to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots.
  7. Mulch around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Harvesting And Saving Seeds

If you want to save seeds from your 4 o’clock plants for future planting, it is important to know the right time to harvest them and the proper techniques for saving them.

Harvesting Seeds

The seeds of 4 o’clock plants develop inside small, brown, spherical capsules. To harvest the seeds, follow these steps:

  1. Allow the flowers to fade and drop their petals. This indicates that the seeds are developing inside the capsules.
  2. Wait for the capsules to turn brown and dry out on the plant. This usually takes several weeks.
  3. Once the capsules are dry, carefully remove them from the plant. You can do this by gently pinching the base of each capsule and pulling it off.
  4. Place the capsules in a paper bag or envelope to allow them to continue drying further.

Saving Seeds

To save the 4 o’clock seeds for future planting, follow these steps:

  1. Open the dried capsules and remove the small, black seeds inside. Be careful not to lose any seeds as they are tiny.
  2. Place the seeds in a dry container, such as a glass jar or a paper envelope.
  3. Store the container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  4. Label the container with the date and variety of the seeds for easy identification.
  5. The seeds can remain viable for several years if stored properly.

Creative Uses For 4 O’Clock Plants

In addition to their vibrant blooms, 4 o’clock plants offer several creative uses in the garden and beyond. Here are a few ideas to inspire your imagination:

Ornamental Purposes

4 o’clock plants are primarily grown for their attractive flowers and can be planted in flower beds, borders, or containers to add a pop of color. Since the flowers bloom in the late afternoon and evening, they are perfect for moon gardens or areas where you want to enjoy their fragrance during nighttime gatherings.

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Attracting Pollinators

The bright, trumpet-shaped flowers of 4 o’clock plants are irresistible to pollinators such as bees and butterflies. By planting these flowers in your garden, you can create a haven for these important creatures and help support their populations.

Natural Dyes

Did you know that the flowers of 4 o’clock plants can be used to create beautiful, natural dyes? The blossoms can be boiled to extract their color, which can then be used to dye fabrics, yarn, or other natural materials. Experiment with different concentrations and combinations to achieve a range of hues.

Companion Planting

4 o’clock plants have a unique characteristic called "allelopathy," which means they release chemicals that can inhibit the growth of certain plants. While this may be undesirable in some cases, it can be an advantage when used strategically. For example, planting 4 o’clocks around your vegetable garden can help deter pests and weeds.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With 4 O’Clock Seeds

Like any other plant, 4 o’clocks can encounter certain issues that may affect their growth and overall health. Here are some common problems you may encounter when planting 4 o’clock seeds and how to address them:

Slow Or Failed Germination

If your 4 o’clock seeds are slow to germinate or do not germinate at all, it could be due to several factors:

  • Poor seed quality: Ensure that you are using fresh, viable seeds from a reputable source.
  • Incorrect planting depth: Plant seeds too deep or too shallow can hinder germination. Follow the recommended planting depth for 4 o’clock seeds, about a quarter-inch deep.
  • Inadequate moisture: Seeds need consistent moisture to germinate. Ensure that the soil is evenly moist, but not waterlogged.

Pest Infestations

4 o’clock plants are generally not prone to severe pest infestations. However, they can occasionally attract pests such as aphids, spider mites, or caterpillars. Here are some steps to manage these pests:

  • Handpick caterpillars and remove them from the plants.
  • Spray a solution of neem oil or insecticidal soap on the affected plants to control aphids and mites. Follow the instructions on the product label for proper application.

Foliar Diseases

In humid or wet conditions, 4 o’clock plants can be susceptible to foliar diseases such as powdery mildew or leaf spot. To prevent or manage these diseases:

  • Provide adequate spacing between plants to allow for good airflow.
  • Water at the base of the plants, avoiding overhead irrigation.
  • Remove and discard any affected leaves or plant parts to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Apply a fungicide labeled for use on the specific disease, following the instructions carefully.

Environmental Stress

4 o’clock plants can show signs of stress in extreme conditions such as prolonged heat, drought, or frost. Here are some tips to help them withstand these environmental challenges:

  • Provide regular watering during dry periods to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Provide shade or temporary coverings during intense heatwaves to protect the plants.
  • Use row covers or garden fabric to protect against frost in cooler climates.


Planting 4 o’clock seeds can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. By following the propagation and transplanting advice, harvesting and saving seeds, and creative uses mentioned above, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of these vibrant flowers in your garden. Remember to troubleshoot common issues promptly to ensure the health and vitality of your 4 o’clock plants. With proper care, your garden will be filled with the stunning blooms and delightful fragrance of 4 o’clock plants.


What Is The Best Time To Plant 4 O’clock Seeds?

The best time to plant 4 o’clock seeds is in the late spring or early summer, after the last frost has passed in your area. This ensures that the seeds will have warm and consistent temperatures to germinate and grow.

How Should I Prepare The Soil For Planting 4 O’clock Seeds?

4 o’clock seeds grow best in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Before planting, loosen the soil with a garden fork and mix in some organic matter such as compost or aged manure to provide nutrients for the seeds.

How Deep Should I Sow 4 O’clock Seeds?

Sow 4 o’clock seeds at a depth of ¼ inch in the soil. They should be lightly covered with soil, but not buried too deep as they need sunlight to germinate.

How Often Should 4 O’clock Seeds Be Watered?

Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, until the seeds germinate and establish strong roots. After that, 4 o’clock plants are drought-tolerant and only need to be watered once a week.

How Much Sunlight Do 4 O’clock Plants Need?

4 o’clocks thrive in full sun, meaning they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They can also tolerate partial shade, but they may not produce as many flowers in less sunny areas.