Mirabilis - hardy four o'clocks

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14
Mirabilis - hardy four o'clocks

At a NARGS Chapter seedling sale I bought a plant of Mirabilis oblongifolia. It overwintered just fine. Taking a while to get started, this is a late summer bloomer that's just getting going at the end of August and beginning of September. I'm not sure what to make of this plant just yet, the verdict is still open. It makes a rambling tangle of long decumbent stems, from which sprout a fresh crop of small perky pink flowers each morning; the flowers short-lived and gone by early afternoon each day.

It seems that this plant is now Mirabilis albida (although flower color is variable, white, pink, rose-purple), with about 2-1/2 dozen synonyms! Does anyone else grow it, or grow it under any of the litany of synonyms? Just how big and meandering does it grow? Looks to me to be a large spreading, tangled mound, which might be hard to place in the garden effectively. The flowers are possibly not large and showy enough to justify the unkempt space it takes, although the late flowering is certainly appreciated. I might toss the plant out... what do you think?

Mirabilis albida (Mirabilis oblongifolia, just one of dozens of synonyms)
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242415064
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=MIAL4&photoID=mial4_004_ahp.jpg

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Got it same source.  Seeds freely and at nearly 3x3 ft, too large for my small garden. Charles Swanson NE MA

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

externmed wrote:

Got it same source.  Seeds freely and at nearly 3x3 ft, too large for my small garden. Charles Swanson NE MA

Charles, did you get the other one that Frank Simpson had at the sale this year? I believe it is Mirabilis multiflora.  Frank showed both plants growing on his side yard, and at least M. multiflora had much larger flowers, and the plant looked more "substantial" than oblongifolia. So I'll give both of them one more year to decide whether to keep or toss.  I was wondering about self-sown seeding, thanks for the heads-up on that. 

I don't necessarily mind the 3' x 3' plant size, but there needs to be more appeal and payback than what I'm seeing from the plant so far. I'm getting to the point that I don't want to bother growing with so-so or just-okay plants.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

HughGmail
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-07-08

Mirabalis multiflora may not be for you.  In my unwatered garden (okay, occasionally watered) it has a spread of easy 6' x 6'.  Because this particular garden is rather large, the size is not of concern to me.  I have seen it in nature in the White Mountains of California growing out of cliffs and even in that environment the size is substantial.  You may want to trial it in a corner of your acreage if you have that option.  In my garden it does not self seed much, in spite of the large number of seeds.  I would hesitate however to plant it in a watered garden; you may get quite the opposite result (see Charles comment).
That being said, I think the flowers are quite nice as the sun sets. 

Hugh Mac Millan
Former NARGS Web Master, Moderator
Eriogonum enthusiast
Zone 5+- - Front Range, Colorado (Denver area)

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

The photo of Mirabilis multiflora on the Rocky Mountain Rare Plants nursery listing sure makes it look attractive!
http://www.rmrp.com/Photo%20Pages/MM/Mirabilis%20multiflora%20-%20settin...

Seed of this one is available from the current and unfortunately last seed catalog of Rocky Mountains Rare Plants.
http://www.rmrp.com/SeedCatalog/OnlineCat/index-Onlinecat.html

Also see:
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=472.0;topicseen

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Weintraub
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-24

Mirabilis multiflora is a native on my property. Although it is completely winter-deciduous, it looks like a shrub when in full growth. I often see it growing vinelike under the native junipers (Juniperus monosperma), it seems to do best when it can reach moisture, but is not shaded. It's a traffic stopper when flowering in the middle of a grassy lot. Do not water it if you receive more than about 18" of moisture in a year. With no supplemental water and in our native clay, it retains a nice hemispherical shape, and will be covered with flowers once in the spring and again in the late summer.

I collected a bunch of seed this year from several locations on my land and during my walks along the community trail system. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for the seedex. Seed is available for trade.

There are a couple of other Mirabilis species in New Mexico. I saw one or two of them during one of my field trips to the southern part of the state last spring. I think I found one while wandering on the other side of the highway from where I live. Seed wasn't ripe in October, and I didn't get back before snow. The other species are not nearly as showy, but may be worth growing in the right situation. I think one of them is a vine.

Barbara Weintraub
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
6700 feet elevation - high and dry
nominally zone 5b; i think it's closer to 6a

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

I was seriously looking at M multiflora at Alplains:
Mirabilis multiflora (Nyctaginaceae) (45x80,Z4,P,C,2) ......................................................... 25 seeds / $3.50
56964.19  (W) Chaffee Co., CO, 7600ft, 2317m.  Huge mounds of thick cordate leaves bearing brilliant deep violet to magenta funnel-flowers.  Usually found solitary or in isolated clumps.  On S-facing slopes of very rocky loam. 
They have an impressive photo which does not seem to be linkable; listed as Z4, but worth a try here--he has other things as Z4 which I know are doable...

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

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Cohan, here is a link to the Alplains image of Mirabilis multiflora (internet tip, you can right-click on the photo-link to the image and select "Open Link in New Window", and it opens a whole instance of your web browser to that image; then copy the URL from the browser window).
http://www.alplains.com/images/MirabMulti.jpg
...and for comparison, the other good pick from RMRP:
http://www.rmrp.com/Photo%20Pages/MM/Mirabilis%20multiflora%20-%20settin...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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

Looks like  a pretty impressive plant in either link--flowers seem just a touch petunia-y, which makes me wary, but probably less so in person..

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

Kelaidis
Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

I was visiting with a friend from Idaho who tells me they are growing Mirabilis macfarlanei http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1065&bih=675&q=mirabilis+macfarlanei&gbv=2&aq=0&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=Mirabilis+mac quite well, and that it is a superlative garden plant...very compact and floriferous and long blooming. From his spectacular pictures (which I don't have permission to show...drats!) it looks very similar to our Colorado endemic, Mirabilis rotundifolius which is restricted to a tiny range in an area that is undergoing immense impacts from mining and urban development near Pueblo Colorado. Because of its rarity (and we are stewards at Denver Botanic Gardens) we have not yet distributed this. I am hoping one day we can get the stars aligned to do so because, as you can see, it is really beautiful. It is like a compact, somewhat upright M. multiflora, only much tinier. It blooms for months on end most years (and that's without supplemental water in our dry climate). Both pictures were taken in some of our native gardens where this runs amock. What other treasures are out there?

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

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

These are nice too! More to watch for  ;D

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

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