The miraculous flower (Mirabilis) most probably owes its name to the miraculous property of carrying different coloured flowers on each individual plant. This is due to a peculiarity in the genome of the seeds. The wonder flower, which belongs to the family of the wonder flower plants (Nyctaginaceae), originates from the tropical zones of America. Although about 60 species belong to the genus Mirabilis when talking about a miracle flower, the species Mirabilis jalapa is mostly meant.
The tropical shrub grows between 60 and 100 centimeters high. Mirabilis forms beet-shaped or bulbous roots from which upright, branching shoots emerge.
The miracle flower has simple, heart-shaped to oval leaves. They are between five and ten centimeters long and about four centimeters wide. At the end, they run out pointedly and are lashes at the edge.
The special feature of miracle flowers is their flowers, because up to five different flower colours can occur on only one plant. But not only the individual flowers can be differently coloured, sometimes several colours unite in one flower. Flowering time is from June to October. The inflorescences have three to seven unstalked flowers. They are about five centimeters long and two to three centimeters wide. The petals, bell-shaped in several panicles, are white, pink, red or yellow. Due to the fact that the fragrant flowers do not open until late afternoon and then close or fade at dawn, the wonder flower is also called the “Four o’clock” flower in English-speaking countries. The flowers that fade during the night are constantly replaced by new ones, so that the pile continues uninterruptedly.
The inconspicuous oily seeds are about the size of peas and have a small crater-shaped opening.
Wonder flowers need a sunny, warm and sheltered location.
Mirabilis prefer a nutrient-rich, deep and loose soil. If miracle flowers are cultivated in tubs, a drainage layer of expanded clay is recommended so that excess water can drain off easily.
Sowing and planting
You can sow the miracle flower under glass from March onwards. In warmer regions, direct outdoor sowing is also possible from the end of April. The bulbous rhizomes are set quite flat into the bed from mid-May, after the Ice Saints, and only a few centimeters thinly covered with soil. Wonder flowers need a distance of 50 to 70 centimeters in the bed, because they grow not only in height, but also strongly in width.
In order to stimulate the continuous flowering of miracle flowers, you should remove withered flowers regularly. During the growth it is necessary to water the summer flowers abundantly, sometimes this is also necessary twice a day. A few doses of liquid fertilizer in the watering water also benefit the flowering.
You can divide the rootstocks of the wonder flower in autumn and multiply the plant in this way.
Cut back the leaves in late autumn, before the first frost, and proceed similarly to dahlias: The frost-sensitive tubers of the miracle flowers should be carefully dug out with a digging fork in late autumn, at the latest at the first frost, in order to dry off in an airy place. They can then be wintered in wooden boxes filled with sand in a dry and cool cellar room at around five degrees Celsius.
Wonder flowers adorn flower beds with the variety of colours of their flowers, for example together with summer hyacinths, dayflowers and Indian reed. They attract moths and swarms that suck the nectar. Wonder flowers are also suitable for cultivation in tubs.
In autumn the rootstocks can be divided, in spring you can get cuttings from the plant. In addition, sowing is also a common form of propagation.
Diseases and pests
Wonder flowers are relatively resistant to disease. Sometimes aphids and mites appear.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch