Four O’Clocks

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A country farm complete with a flower filled garden is what my dreams are made of. Then filling it to the brim with different flowers surrounding the barns and farmhouse just makes me plain giddy. This year one addition was our Four O’Clocks- they are just too good not to share!

cowboy boots and flowers

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One of my favorite things about country living is how willing everyone is to share. Recipes, plants, seeds, garden produce- it doesn’t matter what it is. We share and all benefit from what others have a surplus of.

We have received many seeds/plants from this very thing while we are growing our gardens and caring for the home. I have shared about our spring garden prep this year including starting seeds for the spring and summer garden. I also shared all about our sunflowers. But one of the latest has been four o’clock seeds from my grandmother. They were given to my mom but I had never heard of them. Upon further research, they are an old fashioned, southern perennial known not only for the time of day they bloom but for the high production of seeds that have always been passed onto friends, family and neighbors. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My mom ended up planting the seeds in her front flower beds later in the spring season and they grew FAST. They bloom every evening in different shades of peach, pink, orange and yellow. We have fallen in love with them! And so has Ila.

redheaded baby picking a pink four o'clock flower
redheaded baby girl smelling yellow four o'clock flower

The peach are my favorite but Ila loves the bright pink and yellow.

close up shot of peach colored four o'clock flower
close up shot of pink four o'clock flower

When we started seeing the quite large black seeds we couldn’t help but collect them. It’s become a game at this point. A game of who can quit first, ha! Once you start picking seeds out, it is so hard to stop because you just keep finding more. We have continued the tradition of passing these beauties along to our friends and I just think that is such a fun addition and purpose to our garden and flower beds, so naturally I had to share them on the blog as well.

Four O’Clocks

Growing Four O’Clocks

I cannot believe how easy these were to grow. Mom planted them in a bed near a high traffic area specifically where our dogs won’t stop digging and laying. She just sprinkled the seeds in the dirt and covered up without spacing them out or anything. Of course they need watered regularly as any other plant does- but within a few days they had sprouted. They grew incredibly fast from there into big bushy plants.

They attract a lot of pollinators but we have not seen any pests on them.

Caring for Four O’Clocks

These are just as easy to care for as they were to grow from seed. They love the heat so if you are in a colder climate, they may grow a little slower. Give them space to spread out because they are more of a bush. We keep them watered regularly- that’s it!

The blooms open in the evening (why they are called Four O’Clocks) on into the early morning due to temperatures lowering. And the smell y’all! It is sweet and strong like honeysuckle.

If you go out in the evening, you may even catch a glimpse of all of the pollinators and even hummingbird moths. Look close and you can see one in the photo below.

what we believe to be a hummingbird moth on four o'clocks

Now in warmer zones these are considered perrenials. I believe in cooler zones they are annuals but we live in zone 7 so they are a perrenial for us. And boy do I expect them to come back next year! They are so prolific and produce so many seeds. And the seeds easily fall off so they are all in the dirt ready for next year.

Now one thing we have noticed is that the colors change. Our Four O’Clocks started out as mostly bright pink but quickly changed to more peach and yellow. I know hydrangeas can change colors based on the soil so I am wondering if this could be the case. A friend of ours said the same so maybe it could be true! I have not looked into this very much.

Four O’Clocks would look beautiful draped along things like fence lines, out buildings, etc. but beware- they can be poisonous to animals. We have not had an issue with the dogs but would not plant these near to barn or chicken coop.

Sharing Four O’Clocks

Four O’Clocks have so many benefits but one of my favorite things about them is how easy it is to gather seeds and share them! I love building community and ours is so great with sharing that I love this. The seeds fall off easily (or can be picked right from the plant) and they are large and easy to keep up with.

The seeds are large round black seeds similar to peppercorn but much larger. This makes them easy to see and keep hold of. This also makes them easier to grow from seed. Something small, like a carrot, is harder to plant because of how tiny the seeds are. They are hard to see and can easily get washed away with rain or watering. While there is a place for that (we love carrots and they are a staple in this house), I can appreciate a plant with giant seeds for ease. Especially one as beautiful and high producing as Four O’Clocks.

When the plant starts to bloom, you will start to see large black seeds within the leaves. They’re hard to miss! You can grab ahold of the stems and give a little shake or just pick them right out with your fingers. Easy!

Four O'Clock seed still on plant

Pass these around to friends and family and they will just love them!

If there is no one in your community with seeds, check out these seeds to grow your own!

I picture more Four O’Clocks draped across our future fence line down at the farmhouse or even scattered along the wood line like wildflowers or honeysuckle. They should (quite easily) come back year after year, perfect for a low maintenance area!