How to Propagate Four O’Clock Flowers

by Marcie
four o'clock flower in fall with a few flowers left and seeds turning black about to fall off.

Propagating four o’clock flowers is really easy! You simply grab all the seeds out of them in the fall. Our neighbor in Utah would call my daughter, Alexis, to come over in the fall and together they would go around grabbing all the seeds out of the four o’clocks and putting them in ziplock bags. Alexis would bring a bag home and the next spring she’d plant them. Then in the fall she would get the seeds and save them. She brought a bag of seeds here to Virginia and planted them. Her flowers grew beautiful all summer and when she left for college this fall she left me and her little buddy, Andy, the charge to save her seeds when they turned black. We did and when she comes home in April she can plant them again. She’ll be so happy!

Propagating flowers (and any plants) is a free way to keep having flowers year after year. It’s easier than going to the store and picking out seeds. It is also more environmentally friendly than ones coming in packages and being shipped to you. You simply go out your door, collect them, stick them in an old mail envelope and you have your seeds!

four o'clock flower in a pot
Four o’clock flower with black, dried seeds ready to fall to the ground to come up next year or to be saved in an envelope to be planted next year.

Four o’clocks are perennials but saving seeds ensures you have plenty next year

Four o’clocks are perennials so they should come back year after year. If they’re planted in the ground and you cover their roots well with mulch they should survive and regrow. Also, they can drop their seeds and grow new flowers that way. However, if you have your plant in a pot or live in a cold climate (colder than zone 7), it could be hard for them to come up next summer. Also, if you only have one plant and want four o’clocks all over your yard (they’re seriously a very easy flower to grow!) then save some seeds! You can see from the above picture all the little black dots of dried seeds. Those are ready to be pulled off and saved.

how to propagate four o'clock flowers

In the above picture you can see both green seeds (not ready yet) and the dried, black seeds that are ready to be pulled off.

Pulling off the seed is easy! You simply reach in with your pincer grasp and pull out any black seeds you find. They are pretty loose so you can almost shake them out of the plant too, but picking them is fun like picking blueberries. Put them in a ziplock bag in a dry place (one time ours got a bit moldy in a ziplock bag here in Virginia, but Utah they were fine) or in an envelope. Store in your garage or other cool, dry place. No need to freeze it unless you live in a very warm climate like Florida. In that case I’d put mine in the fridge or freezer over the winter. In the spring, simply plant directly in the ground or in a pot and water every day until they sprout. Hopefully this helps you learn how to propagate four o’clock flowers. Enjoy your flowers!

envelope of four o'clock seeds to save for next year.

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