It’s four o’clock somewhere

Pink four o’clocksApparently no one briefed my Four O’Clocks about their name. Or issued them watches.

Once I figured out, with the help of AnnieBetty and other astute commenters, what kind of flower I had actually grown, I began a full-court press on Tuesday afternoon to figure out when they would actually open up. I kept running outside, peering at the blossoms, then retreating indoors, wondering if I would know it when I saw it.

I decided, after awhile, that my Four O’Clocks were loser flowers. Unwilling to open. Unwilling to play with me.

I considered pouting. Then I moved on to other shiny and distracting things, and kind of forgot about it.

White four o’clocksOn Friday morning, as I was getting ready for work, I looked out the back door and saw an unmistakable set of trumpet-like open blossoms in the garden. What time was it? It was approximately 7 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

I ran out without my camera the first time, half afraid that they’d close up when I got out there, like some kind of trick.

But they stayed open, and I returned with the camera, and even managed to score good light. Still, my flowers? Hopelessly misnamed.


21 Responses to “It’s four o’clock somewhere”

  1. 1 anniebetty August 21, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Well, now. THAT is cool. Lovely pix. I’ve actually only caught my yellow ones open this year. Maybe they like to play head games with us?

  2. 2 anniebetty August 21, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Hey! You changed your tomato picture.

  3. 3 Heather August 21, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Inadvertent 4 o’clocks? Seems pretty apt to me!

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener August 21, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    AB, thanks for the pics comment! As for the header at the top, I’m letting the jury decide on that — what do you think of it?

    Heather, it’s pretty funny, eh? I’m trying to let them be less inadvertent, but since I didn’t even know what they were, I guess I can’t really cover…

  5. 5 OldRoses August 22, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Hee hee! I thought I was the only one who had 4 o’clocks that bloomed in the morning. If you are into seed saving, 4 o’clock seeds are easy to spot, pick,save and then trade or plant where you want next year. If you aren’t into seed saving and leave the seeds on the plants, you will have a ton of 4 o’clocks all over next year. They are almost as bad as morning glories.

  6. 6 ruth August 22, 2007 at 1:33 am

    I guess which ever country first dubbed them with this name had them opening at 4 o’clock their time. It would be interesting to find out what time they open in different parts of the world :o)

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener August 22, 2007 at 6:15 am

    OldRoses, that’s good to know — I wouldn’t mind having these guys all over the place next year — I really like them, especially now that I know what they are.

    Ruth, maybe they’re on Greenwich Mean Time? Or something?

  8. 8 Me August 22, 2007 at 6:32 am

    I read a really good explanation of the name and the confusion it creates. I thought the explanation was in my book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells but I didn’t find them in it. I can’t recall exactly what the explanation was.

    I had these at my old house. I found them frustrating. I like the white one.

  9. 9 steven August 22, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Maybe your Four O’Clocks have retired and given up clock-watching?

  10. 10 Katiez August 22, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Perhaps they’re European four o’clocks.
    Mine have never adjusted for daylight saving time, but, then flowers are not universally known for their intelligence!
    Still, once you figure out their schedule, they are pretty!

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener August 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Me, I will have to try to track down that explanation — thanks for the lead! What did you find annoying about them?

    Steven, it’s not Fall yet, so they refuse to retire. ;-)

    Katiez, I was thinking they might be EuroFlowers. And yeah — I definitely dig them.

  12. 12 Claire Splan August 22, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I’m glad you really like the four o’clocks. You will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever get rid of them. Aside from the million and one seeds they’re about to drop in your garden, their tuberous roots go on for ever and it would probably take a strip mining operation to dig them out completely. Even the tiniest bit of root left behind will produce a plant. I thought they were cute the first year I planted them, but I have grown to loathe them. You may not realize it yet, but you’ve just been invaded.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener August 22, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Claire, hmm. Oh dear. Well, I suppose I should be glad I’m renting?


    At least I know they can stand up to the Black Walnut!

  14. 14 anniebetty August 22, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Gosh, where do you live, Claire? In my neck of the woods, they do seed all over (which is one reason I love them), but I’ve never had them become a pest. I do have a friend whose 4-o’clocks act like perennials in one section of her back garden that gets full sun (she’s south of me).

    Of course, I love a beautiful invasion. I have larkspur that comes up all over … love-in-a-mist that does the same thing … and snapdragons. I won’t mention the calendula … oh, I just did. The one thing I did battle to death was Peter’s Mountain Mallow, which was lovely but OMG was it a wild, invasive thing.

    I like my garden to be surprising. It’s one of my favorite things about growing things.

  15. 15 inadvertentgardener August 22, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Ooh, AB, I am a huge fan of snapdragons. I should put some of those in next year. And yes, surprising? Always good, in my book.

  16. 16 Christina August 22, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Every place that I’ve lived has had 4 o’clocks open at different times. I’m not sure what sparks their opening–it seems to be some kind of balance between sun and shade that gets them to bloom.

    Funny post–I enjoyed reading it!

  17. 17 Dorothy August 22, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    I know the feeling of waiting for a plant to open. I pray that the rain does not damage my pending blooms. You should try a four o’clock named Kaliedescope. You will lose your mind when you see the blossoms on them. I love the bright yellow blooms striped with red. You will get a kick out of reading a fictional creatively humorous book called “Diary of a Wannabe Gardener.” When I read your blog, your enthusiasm reminded me of the main character in the book. Preview the book at I bet you will notice the simularities yourself. Enjoy gardening, enjoy life and enjoy 4 o’clocks.

  18. 18 inadvertentgardener August 24, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Christina, I just read an email that says they’re a night-blooming flower, too. So who knows!

    Dorothy, the Kaleidoscope variety sounds amazing — I’ll have to see if I can locate some seeds for next year.

  19. 19 bill August 25, 2007 at 10:20 am

    maybe they bloom at 4 o’clock in the morning.

  20. 20 anniebetty August 25, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    The latest catalogue from Seed Savers Exchange has the regular hierloom variety seeds … no fancy Kaleidoscope though.

  21. 21 inadvertentgardener August 25, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Bill, they’re out there blooming right now, too, and it’s night time. So I think they pretty much just bloom whenever they feel like it.

    AB, I’m going to go on the hunt for those Kaleidoscope seeds. Although I will say…the ones I have now are really pretty, and they’ve grown so much in the past few days that I am a little afraid to plant any more next year. We’ll see…

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