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Mirabilis jalapa, a wonderfully fragrant shrub

mirabilis jalapa

Mirabilis jalapa is one of the most fragrant shrubs that can be planted in the garden.

Mirabilis jalapa main facts

NameMirabilis jalapa
Type – perennial, annual

Height – 2⅔ inches (0.8 m)

Exposure: sun (full)  –  Soil: ordinary, draining –   Flowering: summer→mid-fall

Its flowers open and close daily on a set schedule! Follow these easy steps on planting, care, watering and blooming to grow wonderful Mirabilis jalapa shrubs in your garden.

How to plant Mirabilis jalapa flowers

Mirabilis jalapa is often sold in small pots at garden stores or horticulture centers.

  • Mirabilis jalapa plantingKeep 12 inches (about 30 cm) between plants upon planting in the ground, give or take a couple inches (⁺∕₋ 5cm).
  • Ensure proper drainage, especially if you intend to plant in clay soil. Check here on how to increase drainage in clay soil.

If a friend has Mirabilis jalapa growing, simply ask for a few seeds. Mirabilis jalapa readily starts from seed.

  • Start seedlings indoors or under a greenhouse tunnel in March.
  • Transplant to the growing bed in May.
  • Or, plant the seeds directly in the ground in May. Important is to protect Mirabilis jalapa seedlings from freezing.

Pruning and trimming Mirabilis jalapa

Mirabilis jalapa will rarely grow any taller than three feet (one meter). It won’t be necessary to trim or prune it.

However, you should know that you can increase blooming by snipping wilted flowers off from the plant. This will both trigger new flowers, and extend the blooming season.

Mirabilis jalapa, invasive but easy to control

Seeds ripening on Mirabilis jalapaMirabilis jalapa tends to spread quickly. The problem isn’t spreading through roots or branches. It’s related to the high amount of seeds that the plant produces, which tend to germinate easily.

Sometimes birds gobble up seeds and spread them in their droppings.

If you want to control growth of your Mirabilis jalapa patch, simply pull out young seedlings that you feel are too numerous in spring.

  • You can reduce the amount of seedlings if you deadhead your Mirabilis jalapa during the blooming season.

Learn more about Mirabilis jalapa

Caring for Mirabilis jalapaMirabilis jalapa is a flower shrub that was domesticated by the Aztecs in South America. “Jalapa” is actually an old name of present-day Veracruz. In ancient times was a major city of the Aztec nation.

Mirabilis jalapa flowers last only one night. They open up in the middle of the afternoon – hence its common name the four o’clock flower – and close at dawn. A new batch of flowers opens up on the next day.

A single Mirabilis jalapa bush can bear flowers of different colors. They’re very fragrant in the evening and night.

Smart tip about Mirabilis jalapa

For more summer flowers, provide flower fertilizer during the blooming.

Stop fertilizing in fall.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Rafael Saldaña, Pixabay: CollageArts, Szabolcs Molnar, CC BY 4.0: Kim & Forest Starr
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