Can You Pinch 4 O'clock Flowers?

Written by elizabeth layne
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Can You Pinch 4 O'clock Flowers?
Mirabilis, or four-o-clock plant, blooms only in the afternoon. (garden tools image by Horticulture from

Mirabilis Jalapa, also known as the "Marvel of Peru," got its nickname the "four o'clock plant" because its blooms don't open until midafternoon, according to D.G. Hessayon in "The New Flower Expert."


Four o'clock s are fragrant, brightly-coloured, shrubby annuals, good in flower beds or borders. Four o'clock s, like most annuals, benefit from being pinched at various times, says the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

Pinching Seedlings

If the four o'clock s are planted from seed, the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service says that when seedlings have developed two true leaves, they should be thinned by "pinching out excess plants or transplant them to another location." As you plant them in their permanent spots, remove any buds and flowers on the seedlings to help them develop into stronger plants, advises Clemson Cooperative Extension.

Bushier Growth

The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service also says extra pinching throughout summer helps to make plants bushier and more compact. "Early pinching" means removing the top inch or two from the growing tip, leaving three or four leaves behind. This should be done even if it removes early buds or blooms. That's because, says the University of Illinois Extension, "Many plants concentrate their energy in a single tip bud." But, if this tip bud is removed, buds lower down the plant produce side shoots, creating bushier growth and more blossoms.

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