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Perennials/Dividing 4 o'clock tuber with live plant


My 4 o\'clock a
My 4 o'clock a  

The base of the plant
The base of the plant  
My 4 o'clock grew from a fairly large tuber I stored from last year. The plant has grown about 3 feet tall and bushed out around 4 feet in diameter. There are multiple stalks growing out from the base and hundreds of blooms. The wieght of the plant is causing the stalks to lay toward the ground. I have proped the stalks up to support the wieght. I would like to know what I should do to correct this, the leaves are drooping and some of the seed pods are dying before they fully develop. Can I divide the tuber and the current stalks and such survive? Or will they dye and have to grow back in? Please help, my other plants are anywhere from 3 1/2 to 4 foot tall with only 2 stalks and less bushy. I don't know what to do with the other one and I don't want it to die.

Hi Jessica,
Thanx for your question.  The pictures you sent (which were very helpful, thank you!) indicate healthy 4 O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa).  I wouldn't touch them. I would continue to water them once a week if you're not having regular rain.  I wouldn't try to dig them up and divide them right now. You may do more damage than good.  If the plant continues to wither and die, you may have a mole or underground parasite feeding on the tuber.  There is not much else I can advise you at this time.  It is common for some of the seed pods not to ripen but instead dry up and fall off.  Withering leaves indicate a lack of moisture, intense afternoon heat or, as I mentioned before, an underground pest or even rot.  It's unusual for four o'clocks to be bothered by pests.  I would also save seed.  The plant is easily propagated from seed.  All you have to do is plant it.  Some say to soak in water or even chill for a week.  Don't bother with any of that nonsense.  The seeds germinate readily at 75F after 7-10 days.  In zones 7-9, a the tuber will overwinter and result in new growth the next year.  Zones 5 and 6, it is a self-seeding annual.  In zones 10-11, it is a small, perennial shrub. Originally, the plant hails from Mexico but has become common in the U.S.  You can divide the tuber, which I wouldn't bother with unless it is gigantic.  Cut it up like you would a potato.  The tuber will resemble a carrot and have "eyes" on it like a potato.  You can also store the tuber as you did, in a dry, dark, cool basement.  Do not wrap the tuber in plastic.  It must be allowed to breathe or it will develop rot.  I hope this helps.


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Tom Alonzo


I have been a gardener for 20 years with perennials both growing from seed and from nurseries. I went through the Master Gardener Program from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service and I answered questions on the Hotline a few years ago for the Wyandotte County Kansas Extension Service. I have also lived in the Florida, California, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Missouri and am experienced with a variety of climates, soils and weather conditions.


I have been growing perennials for over 20 years now. I am self-taught mostly except for a master gardener class. I have experimented with all kinds of perennials including many that are not common to my area. I have read hundreds of books and grown hundreds of varieties of plants and hope to make it a business some day. I have become versed in botanical names and growing conditions and what I don't know off of the top of my head I can usually easily find in my vast array of research material and botanical and horticultural contacts. I especially enjoy experimenting with growing plants out of zone.

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