They told me not to plant it. Yes, experienced gardeners told me. If you have figured out my MO, you know I cannot resist a flowering plant that likes this climate, loves to reproduce and is free. That of course, is the downside of the Four O’ Clock. Its sweet scented flowers fill the evening with perfume that is hard to resist, but it also grows a tuber that is as big as a size 7 clog and every flower produces a seed with a high rate of germination. I have pulled up hundreds of seedlings and finally found the perfect shovel to dig out the tuber that was growing close to my other wanted plants. My advice is that if you want to grow a Four O’ Clock, put it in a pot over concrete and sweep up the seeds.
I was in the garden earlier than usual one morning and was pleasantly greeted by the strong scents of my blooming gingers. This one is Hedychium hybred “Pink V.
My most reliable ginger that has been with me for many years is Butterfly Ginger, Hedychium coronarium, which I believe has the strongest scent and can be detected from across the backyard. I had a neighbor that told me she could smell it as she walked by the front of my house. The plants bloom in the Spring and Autumn.
Because it was early morning, I was able to catch the scent of the Four O’Clocks, which bloom in the early evening. These flowers have a wonderful fragrance and are great to plant near a porch or patio. Oddly, I have never seen hummingbirds or bees on them. Maybe some night I will stay up and see what pollinates them.
Another night bloomer, is Evening Primrose, Oenothera grandiflora, and was collected by William Bartram. It has an usual scent that is an acquired taste. I never really saw any pollinators on this Primrose, until I spotted what I believe to be a green bee, which I hope my reader that is a bee expert will let me know. Anyway, the bee was really working on the flowers and when I passed by later, it was still gathering nectar.
I look forward to my morning garden tour and being greeted by a scent, new bloom or a backyard critter.
This week I’m looking back at my post on Four O’Clocks. I was very excited by the easy to grow plant and all the seeds it produced. But, the excitement ended soon. It reseeded prolifically and a mature plant is impossible to pull out due to its tuber. The Four O’Clocks have woven their way between plants and only revealed themselves when they started to bloom. Now it is hard to pull up the beautiful blooming plants that are attracting night pollinators and smell so wonderfully, so I will just wait until they have finished blooming.
A word to the wise. If you live in a warm climate where the plants will not freeze to death, plant them only where they can be controlled!
Check out Four O’Clocks, if you dare.
It is time to start collecting seeds to keep the Automatic Gardening growing. Autumn is the end of the flowering season for many plants, but also the beginning of next season in the promise of seeds.
As it turns out, Four O’Clocks, originally from Mexico, love it here and are very prolific. The seeds need to be collected to stop an over abundance of plants.
Bartram’s Evening Primrose no longer needs to be watched and coddled as it has come into its own. It has reseeded itself and made thousands, if not millions of tiny black seeds this year. An Automatic Garden success!
Balsam Impatients, otherwise known as poppers, have the habit of popping open and flinging their seeds as far as they can. It is always a good idea to collect some to plant where the human gardener desires. These came from George Washington garden. They were probably shared among many of the early colonists.
Wish Bone flowers make extremely small tan seeds that are difficult to collect. They are left to do their own thing and after the seeds germinate the seedlings are moved to beds.
These wonderful seed pods belong to the Philippine Lily. Each pod is stuffed full of flat seeds and are released as the wind blows.
Salvias are old garden friends. They are totally left on their own and never fail to reproduce and provide for the bees and hummingbirds each year.
Some seeds need to be collected to prevent reproduction. This wild and lovely little bean made it way into the garden. As with all wild things in a garden, it needs to be controlled, so as many seed pods as possible are collected. The pods twist open when ripe and send their seeds as far as they can.
I think not!
Six O’Clocks is more like it. These plants are on their own schedule. None the less, they provide color in the garden late in the day when many of the other residents are closing down for the night.
Four O’Clock flowers (Mirabilis jalapa) are about the size of a quarter and multiple ones open every evening all over the plant. They have a very pleasant scent that will continue if plucked off and brought inside. Four O’Clocks are great passalong plants and easily reseed. In the South they grow a tuber and are heat and drought tolerant perennials. The Aztecs grew them in Mexico and the flowers made their way to Europe in the 1500’s.