House passes proposal to name state children's flower after Cheshire home invasion victim

Posted: May 21, 2015 7:51 AM EDT

Updated: May 21, 2015 7:55 AM EDT

By Rob Polansky


The state House of Representatives unanimously passed a proposal to establish Michaela Petit's Four O'clock as the Connecticut children's state flower.

Proposal to make Four O'Clocks the Children's State Flower

The Four O'Clock was a favorite of Michaela Petit, one of the victims in the 2007 Cheshire home invasion. That flower is getting top billing as part of new legislation that recently moved ahead.

Dr. William Petit said his 11-year-old daughter Micheala enjoyed gardening.

Michaela, along with her sister Hayley Petit and mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, were killed in their Cheshire home during a 2007 home invasion.

She was 11 years old at the time.

The legislation, introduced in January by Rep. Al Adinolfi, received an outpouring of support during a February public hearing, according to lawmakers.

"Unfortunately, a heinous crime rocked our tight-knit community, sending lasting ripple effects across the country," Adinolfi said. "But we will not let evil win, and we will not allow the bad guys have their place in our state history. We want to honor an innocent girl who had a bright future. And we want to honor her through a type of flower she loved."

The measure now heads to the state Senate for approval.

Adinolfi said the Four O'clock, or Mirabilis jalapa, was selected because it used to be planted by Michaela and her father, Dr. William Petit, outside of their home. Out of the ashes of that burned-down home, the flower poked its petals out of the ground following the crime.

"Naming a state children's flower tells kids that they can have a voice and empowers them to go forward and help others," Dr. William Petit said. "In addition, it is an easy flower to grow from seed and requires little maintenance so that even the youngest child can participate. It teaches children about the outdoors, gardening and beauty in a very simple way: Horticulture, agronomy, ecology and the environment all are related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. We need more children with an interest in these areas, especially young girls."

The Petit Family Foundation also sells the seeds to fund a scholarship for girls.

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