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This wonderfully colorful, old-fashioned plant is easy to grow and great for a child's garden. Four o'clock earns its name because its lightly fragrant flowers open in late afternoon (or on cloudy days) and close the next morning.
Four o'clock is great for a bed or border and tends to reseed prolifically, assuring a steady supply for years to come. It also develops fleshy tubers that you can dig and store in a frost-free place for winter if you live north of Zone 8. Plant it outside after all danger of frost has passed.
Part Sun, Sun
1 to 3 feet
1-3 feet wide
how to grow Four o'clock
more varieties for Four o'clock
'Limelight' four o'clock
Mirabilis 'Limelight' bears chartreuse foliage and bright magenta flowers on 2-foot-tall plants.
'Red Glow' four o'clock
Mirabilis 'Red Glow' bears vibrant red flowers on 2-foot-tall plants.
plant Four o'clock with
You can depend on this cottage-garden favorite to fill your garden with color all season long. The simple, daisylike flowers appear in cheery shades on tall stems that are great for cutting. The lacy foliage makes a great backdrop for shorter plants, as well. Cosmos often self-seeds in the garden, so you may only have to plant it once, though the colors can appear muddy or odd in the reseeders.Plant cosmos from seed directly in the ground in spring. Or start from established seedlings. This flower doesn't like fertilizing or conditions that are too rich, which causes the foliage to be large and lush but with fewer blooms. It does best with average moisture but will tolerate drought.
Many types of nicotiana are terrifically fragrant (especially at night) and are wonderful in attracting hummingbirds as well as fascinating hummingbird moths.There are several types of nicotiana, also called flowering tobacco because it's a cousin of the regular tobacco plant. Try the shorter, more colorful types in containers or the front of beds or borders. The taller, white-only types, which can reach 5 feet, are dramatic in the back of borders. And they're ideal for night gardens; they're usually most fragrant at dusk. These plants do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and they may reseed.
Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, with some sporting beautiful veining and intriguing colors. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (sniff blooms in the garden center to be sure.) Some also tout themselves as "weatherproof," which means that the flowers don't close up when water is splashed on them.Wave petunias have made this plant even more popular. Reaching up to 4 feet long, it's great as a groundcover or when cascading from window boxes and pots. All petunias do best and grow more bushy and full if you pinch or cut them back by one- to two-thirds in midsummer.Shown above: Merlin Blue Morn petunia