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Mirabilis_jalapa - L.

Common Name Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O'Clock
Family Nyctaginaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards The seeds and the roots are reported to cause digestive disturbances[274].
Habitats Not known
Range S. America - Peru. Naturalized in France and possibly other places in Europe.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Mirabilis_jalapa Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O

Mirabilis_jalapa Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O


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Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Mirabilis_jalapa is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Tender young leaves - cooked as a vegetable[105, 183, 272]. An emergency food, only eaten when all else fails[177]. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers[46, 61, 105, 177]. It is used for colouring cakes and jellies[183]. The seed is crushed and used as a pepper substitute[105, 177, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The root is aphrodisiac, diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy[46, 61, 154, 218, 240]. A paste of the root is applied as a poultice to treat scabies and muscular swellings[272]. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, indigestion and fevers[272]. The powdered root, mixed with corn flour (Zea mays) is baked and used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[272]. The leaves are diuretic[272]. They are used to reduce inflammation[240]. A decoction of them is used to treat abscesses[218]. The leaf juice is used to treat wounds[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

The powdered seed is used as a cosmetic[46, 61].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Specimen. Succeeds in almost any ordinary garden soil[1]. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil in full sun or part day shade[200]. This species is not very hardy in Britain. The top growth is cut back by frost but the tuber survives the winter outdoors if the temperature does not fall much below -5°c, a good mulch would be beneficial[200]. Tubers can be lifted and stored over winter in a cool frost free place in the same way that dahlia tubers are stored[1, 200]. The marvel of Peru is usually grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones, it flowers freely in its first year[200]. Plants also self-sow freely in warmer areas (these seedlings can be easily transplanted) and they can become a weed in such situations due to their deep rooting habit[200]. This species was cultivated as a medicinal plant by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conqust[274]. The flowers are sweetly scented and do not open until the afternoon[233]. The young growth is particularly susceptible to aphis infestation[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years[196]. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Mirabilis jalapaMarvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O'ClockPerennial0.6 7-10 FLMHSNM221

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

John   Mon Sep 4 2006

I have grown these for the first time this year just to the north of Bristol - from a 10cent pack of seed I bought in the US 3 years ago. It is a plant I have never seen before and attracts quite a lot of interest from people who visit my 1/4 acre. I only have three colours and sadly not any of the variagated ones others describe. I am hoping to transpant them all to just behind a low wall at the front of my propertey early next spring. Thanks for the good information on your site. John.

elle   Sat May 5 2007

I grew it last year in London, UK from seed donated by a friend. I am not convinced that it requires moist soil as it seemed happy enough during a heatwave when the clay soil was baked hard and I was doing very little supplementary watering for my borders. I only had one colour so far. I saved seed, but I have found that self-sown volunteer seedlings have sprung up where it was planted.

K M Harriss   Sun Apr 22 2007

You do not say how to grow Mirabilis jalapa from a tuber - only from seed. I would like to know how deep to plant these tubers and when and how long it will take before any shoots appear. Thank you.

ghulam abbas mangi   Mon Sep 17 2007

so nice plant . iam doing reserch about marvel of peru here in pakistan . still iam student of pharm D second year, and trying to study more about mira,jalapa. plz it is requested to ur houner that kindly send me information about this plant . my e-mail : [email protected] thanks ghulam abbas mangi

Bill White (Oxfordshire, England)   Sun Mar 2 2008

I bought some Mirabilis Jalapa bulbs. (My problem is very elementary). The packet contained no instructions on which way up they should be planted. The bulbs are about 5 inches (12 cm) long. They are about 3/4 long at one end, and the other end tapers almost to a point. My neighbour, who knows a great deal about gardening generally, is also unsure.

   Tue Jul 15 2008

its very easy to grow this plant since it can adapt to any temperature and climate.

Quinike Sukirwan   Mon Aug 4 2008

I planted Mirabilis sp. from tuber, about 4 inches deep in late May, and in July, they already are big (2 ft x 2 ft), and has lots of flower. Just wondering if they could be perennial in USDA Zone 5, or just annual?

Bert Wilson   Wed Dec 31 2008

I live in Dumbarton in West Scotland, our climate tends to be somewhat wet but quite warm in summer, but can be very cold and wet in winter. I bought Mirabilis tubers when we visited Keukenhof in Holland in Spring 2008 and planted them 4" deep and two-to-a-12" pot in May, started them off in my heated greenhouse and then moved pots outside to a sunny spot in mid-June when the shoots was up. They flowered well until late September when I cut them back and lifted tubers for drying off and storing overwinter as dahlia tubers. Will plant them up same again in April 2009 in two thirds good compost and one third grit plus good dose of fish, blood and bone fertiliser.

Steve Lewis   Thu Apr 9 2009

Tubers now available in many garden centres in Southern Ontario (Canada). Grows well in standing planters and group plantings in beds as far north as Zone 5 (Western Muskoka to shores of Lake Huron near Parry Sound). As with most summer bulbs in this regions, best results when plants are started indoors (heated greenhouse) in April and moved outside after last frost. I planted four tubers in a 55cm container with mixture of moss, artificial soil and well-rotted compost. May be grown as an annual or lift and store with Dahlias before first killing frost. Likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. Shelter from high winds.

   Nov 29 2010 12:00AM

I have grown this plant for many years but this time I planted a row in heavy clay and all through the hot dry weather I never once watered them. I now have a wonderful display of yellow mirabilis which I intend to leave in all winter - I also have red ones all over the garden which have seeded themselves - a wonderful plant which saves on watering. Jannice Price, Leicestershire Friday 27th August 2010

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