Sweet Four o’clock (Mirabilis longiflora)

Map of Arizona. Counties are colored green where the species may be found.
Mirabilis longiflora range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Mirabilis flower close-up.
Mirabilis flower closeup. Photo by M. Falk.

Mirabilis floral tubes.
Mirabilis floral tubes. Photo by M. Falk.

Mirabilis plant.
Mirabilis plant. Photo by M. Falk.

Many members of this plant family (Nyctaginaceae) are well-known ornamentals, such as Bougainvillea and cultivated Mirabilis. Collect some seed from this beautiful shrub and you will have a stunning addition to your garden.

The plant is sweet because the night-blooming flowers are fragrant. The flowers open in the late afternoon and bloom through the night explaining the time reference in the name. This plant is another favorite of the hawkmoth.

Sweet four o’clock can be a rounded shrub, up to 5 feet tall and as wide. It produces many long (up to 6 inches), whitish, tubular flowers on the ends of the branches. It blooms from July to September and is dependent on monsoon rains.

The leaves are opposite, and heart-shaped. The plant has tubers and is perennial. This Mirabilis prefers some shade and water. It is often found in canyon bottoms, streambeds, and oak-pine woodlands, from 4,500 to 7,000 feet.