Mirabilis jalapa

15 Sep

Mirabilis jalapa Flower (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Mirabilis jalapa Flower (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 1m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Mirabilis jalapa is a vigorous, tuberous, bushy, herbaceous perennial. Its mid green leaves are opposite, ovate with entire margins and appointed tip, up to 10cm long and 6cm broad. Its fragrant flowers are trumpet shaped, up to 7cm long and 5cm broad. Its flower colour may be variable, changing through one flowering season and usually open in the afternoon and last for one day. Its fruit are single seeds which are spherical and mature to a black colour. Its roots are tubers.

Mirabilis jalapa, commonly known as the Four O’clock Plant Jalap Plant, Japanese Wonder Plant and Marvel of Peru, is native to tropical South America. Contact with this plant may cause skin irritation.

The etymological root of the binomial name Mirabilis is from the Latin meaning ‘wonderful’. Jalapa is named after a town in Mexico.

Mirabilis jalapa (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Mirabilis jalapa (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Mirabilis jalapa useful as part of mixed herbaceous planting scheme. Once established this plant is moderately drought tolerant. It should be sheltered from cold drying winds.

Ecologically, Mirabilis jalapa is pollinated by moths and other nocturnal pollinators.

Mirabilis jalapa prefers moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils during the dormant period.

Mirabilis jalapa requires little maintenance. In colder areas tubers may be lifted in late autumn and stored in a cool, dryish, dark place for the winter months, before planting the following spring.

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