Mirabilis multiflora

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Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04
Mirabilis multiflora

This is one of the showyest late summer and fall blooming desert perennials you are apt to come across. It most definitely makes it's presence know.

At maturity the plants can reach 18-24 inches (45-61 cm) tall with a spread of 6-8 feet (1.8-2.45 m), making it hard to place in confined situations. Sighting is important not only because of it's size but also it's other needs, full sunlight, heat and a well drained soil. The hundreds of bright magenta flower buds begin to pop as the sun starts dipping toward the horizon, drawing in the night flying moths. As the glow slowly fades, one soon notices that little brown bats are flitting around, picking off some of the moths. When morning dawns, the open sprawling mounds of glabrous heart shaped foliage are evenly studded with multitudes of glowing 2 inch (5 cm)trumpets. Their exerted stamens hoping to deposit a dusting of pollen before the sun climes above the tree line and their one night of glory is passed.

With it's two to three month blooming period this is one of the main focal points of my late summer garden, compeating with Epilobium canum, Zinnia grandiflora and a trio of late season Salvias ( pachyphylla, reptans, & azurea) for your undivided attention

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

My friend grows this in his house's south foundation planting.  He is blessed with the proverbial "constantly moist soil", but I am sure it gets drier in that area.  Still, the soil is quite rich, and although the plant is very lax with more lusch growth, it has survived for 6-10 years.  When I saw it blooming, it couldn't have been that late in the day or that early in the morning, so I guess there must be some variation(?).

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

I'm a little suprise that it can handle your winter temperatures even along a sunny foundation that is good news. 8).

Desert Four-o-clock will take extremely dry conditions with ease. I grow mine with no direct irrigation what moisture it does acquire, it takes from drip emitters located two to three feet from it's location.  It develops a very long/large tap root with age.

Light intensity and heat play a big role in how densely the foliage and branching patterns develop. On cloudy days the flowers can stay open most of the day but in my climate this is a real rarity. They usually only last till mid morning, 8:00-9:00am.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

A gem! Is it easy from seed?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

I've often read about Mirabilis but never come across anyone growing it in the UK. Must be fascinating to sense the bats in the dusk - wonderful reason to grow the plant.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Trond
Desert four o'clock seeds are dormant, require 8-12 weeks of moist chilling to become germinable, and will germinate in chilling. Light retards germination so the large seeds should be planted about a 1/2-1 inch deep. If sown in the ground do a fall seeding for spring emergence.

When starting in pots it may help to soak the rather large seeds in warm to hot water before chilling to help accelerate the water uptake.  If germination does not occur after 3-4 weeks of planting an additional cooling period of 2-4 weeks is recommended. The germinated seeds should be planted in elongate containers to accommodate the long storage tubers that soon begin to form. Container-grown plants tend to look weak but usually grow rapidly once planted out.

These desert plants take a while to awaken in the spring preferring warm soil temperatures. Be patent they will reward you, later in the summer. The foliage is frost sensitive and will be affected by even light frosts. Established plants will shrug this off and resprout if they do get nipped.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Thank you John for the information. I will try it at my summerhouse where the climate is warmer and sunnier! Hope some seed appear in the seed-ex!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

DesertZone
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-08-20

I love this plant, a must for late summer/fall blooms!  My big one died a few years ago and finaly got two seedlings to take off. :)

Dry garden, little irrigation, 9" precip

Shoshone Idaho USA. Zone 5b-6a

Hot and dry in the summer, cold and snow in the winter.

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

Great plants, John- especially mature plants must be really impressive in person! Alplains lists 2 collections, and rates both at z4..

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Barstow
Barstow's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-08-27

Not at all showy (no flowers), but living up to its epithet "expansa", Mirabilis expansa (Mauka) is a root crop from the Andes. I'm growing it for the first time this year (has been very difficult to get hold of in Europe until recently) and it has spread quickly laterally. Excited to see whether there will be any tubers once the foliage has died down, but the necessary sun-curing will be difficult this far north...

Read more here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirabilis_expansa

M. multiflora was also harvested for food by Native Americans: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mirabilis+multiflora

Stephen Barstow
Malvik, Norway
63.4N
Age: Lower end of the 20-25,000 day range

Martin Tversted
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-03-24

Trond, I have been growing this on serverel occations. Have actual just weeded away my last specimen as it was too big and I wanted more room for Yuccas. Anyway, its easy from seed, 2nd year plants, even here in Scandinavia are at least 1 meter across and in full bloom. But it really needs well drained soil, perhaps along the s wall of the house.

Alplains lists them.
Martin

Martin Tversted
Central Jutland, Denmark Z6

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