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Green Thumb
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 2:25 pm
Location: NW Georgia

Four o' Clocks, and adventures with native trees.

Just ID'd Four o' Clocks outside my kitchen door (or rather, my mom did when she came to visit). What are they and do I have to cut 'em down (don't wanna)?

Had a moment of excitement, thinking I'd found an American Chestnut about 15 feet tall across a pasture from the house. But sadly, on closer examination, it's Cephalanthus occidentalis, "button bush."

I do have Elliottia racemosa, "Georgia Plume" in the yard, which was unknown in this area and endangered in-state in 1990 (when my copy of Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States was printed). This one I'm absolutely sure of; it matches leaves, fruit, and bark, and the fruit is distinctive. Guess I'll call my extension agent and tell her about it, though she may make me cut my yellowbells that are creeping in on it.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I hear that four o'clocks can be invasive. They do produce a large volume of big easy to grow seeds. Have tried to grow the plants here with only limited success, though do have a couple of plants that germinated this year. My yard is surrounded by trees. Where are the four o'clocks going to go? I would think that these flowers could be aggressive and a problem in an area dominated by fields and meadows. Can't imagine them being a problem in areas like most of the Atlantic states that tend to be dominated by forest. As has been pointed out by others before, a plant can be invasive in one settting and quite tame in another. The plant is not on the state invasive lists for either North Carolina or South Carolina, but GA does not have a listing on the site for some reason.

Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:44 am
Location: t.n.

I love my 4 0 clocks,I have the old fashioned ones which grows quite tall even in a sunny spot, then I have the rainbow kind which is a low grower around a foot tall with colours ranging from orange to yellow ,pink and the prettiest deep pink.Mostly I plant the lower growing kind near roses,as some say they are poisonous to Japanese beetles,well at least keeps the beetles away,it seems to work I see very few beetles in my garden.

Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:41 pm

I got mine from Hopes Grove [url=]Garden Nurseries[/url] and I couldn't be happier.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:00 pm
Location: Austin, TX

I had three four o clocks grow next to my house and I've been collecting seeds daily. Don't seem invasive here, so I'll be planting them next year.

Full Member
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:57 pm
Location: S. California

I'm growing some Four O'Clocks right now.
I actually planted the seeds about 2 days ago. (Indoors for now).

I can't tell you if they're growing yet, it's been 2 days but from the pictures, they're very nice :lol:

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Rose White
Full Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:04 am
Location: PA mts. & Mediterranean Sea

4 o'clocks

I loved my colorful 4 o'clocks, except that they always bloomed around 7 in the evening instead of at 4. I had the shorter variety and would plant the seeds every spring.

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Senior Member
Posts: 184
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:52 am
Location: Barrie, Ontario,Canada

I grow lots of them and love them! They are not invasive here. I have to start them early indoors every year. They can be dug up and saved in a root cellar but I have not tried that yet. Mine are all solid colours but they come in "broken" colours too with stripes. I would love to get some seeds for those!

Greener Thumb
Posts: 716
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:01 am
Location: Jacksonville, FLZone 9A

Running Trails, absolutely save your roots! They come back faster, and bloom faster with that root. Even year old roots, maybe grocery store carrot size, are good to save, although I've saved a few of the pencil thin ones from late season, too.

Lorax who posts here from Ecuador, says that the older ones can eventually form a caudex that persists. I think my biggest one maybe showing that this year, and it's about two years old now. I saved one persistent seedling in October '08.

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

They do indeed form a persistent caudex - in fact I passed by a wild clump of pink-bloomers in the midland desert on the way to the hotsprings yesterday which had a really impressive foot. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me because taking a camera to the springs is like pasting a "rob me" sticker on your forehead.

Definitely save your roots! Hardly anybody thinks of 4 O'Clocks as a caudal plant, and they're so much cooler, not to mention stronger, with the caudex than they are without.

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