in Tucson, Phoenix,
and Southern California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, and Southern California

       Back to Plant List

Mirabilis multiflora: Colorado Four O'clock / Desert Four O'clock

Social Media Bar Facebook Google Pinterest Reddit Twitter

Form: Herb.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: In winter, dies to ground and stem breaks off at root, leaving no trace of root location. Plant reappears in mid winter or spring.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 1.5' high and 3-4' wide. After a few years, may cover 16-25 square feet.
Flowers: Purple trumpet flowers, 1" wide and 2-3" long, open late afternoon and close early morning, especially in full sun.
Bloom: Several blooming cycles spring, summer and fall in response to rain. Many flowers bloom at once, often over entire plant.
Fruit: Seeds held in papery capsule formed by dried bracts.
Leaves: Green, broadly oval with pointed tip. Leaves and stems turn white after winter die back and should be collected and discarded to avoid scattered trash appearance in garden.
Stems: No thorns. Many-branched.
Roots: A deep tuber that grows larger every year. Very difficult to transplant.
Wildlife: Musky aroma at night attracts hawkmoths. May serve as food plant for hawkmoth caterpillar.
Toxic / Danger: All parts poisonous.
Origin: Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 5-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade. Best in part shade.
Water once established: Every two months during drought. Watering may result in wildlife browsing unless protected by a fence. Tolerates some supplemental water during drought but overwatering leads to leaves and stems turning brown and breaking off.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low organic content, 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline).
Litter: Low except end of season.
Propagation: Seed. Scarify seed before planting.
Uses: Ornamental.

Another common name is Showy Four O'clock.

Do you have additional information or a different experience for this plant that you would like to share?
Email All contributions are welcome and appreciated.

copyright ©