Torenia—The Simply Beautiful Flower That Takes Little To No Care.
Torenia fournieri is a short ground-hugging beauty that has beautiful and delicate blooms. However, don’t mistake this delicate flower’s appearance for weakness. When located in the right spot, it can withstand a scorching summer heat wave. The wishbone flower is easy enough to grow and suits even novice gardeners.
Further evidence of this annual’s charm is its bicolored or tricolored trumpet-shaped petals and delicate contrasting throats. The flowers are similar to snapdragons and foxgloves—all three belong to a family called figworts.
Unlike many other annual flowers, this compact plant is happy growing in partial shade. Its trumpet-shaped blooms come in several color choices: dark blue with purple edging and yellow markings on top or a lavender center surrounded by tiny white petals.
Within each flower, a pair of slender stalks unites in a shape that resembles the wishbone used to grab hold of and break up meat—thus giving the plant its common name.
To ensure that wishbone flowers bloom in time for the arrival of hummingbirds, plant them early in the growing season after frost danger has passed. Although they are annuals and will die at first fall frost, these plants grow quickly and produce many blooms throughout summer—attracting hummingbirds but not deer!
Cultivation and History.
The velvety texture is one of the most noticeable features of the torenia plant. They come in a variety of beautiful hues. The color of Torenia depends on the type you select lavender, sky blue, or white with a yellow throat. For that reason, they are sometimes called clower flowers or bluewings.
The African and Asian native has long-lasting flowers that bloom from early summer until midfall or the first frost. It’s resistant to many weather conditions and grows in zones 2 through 11.
It grows slightly bushy, reaching 11 inches tall and six inches wide when mature. Flowers on the plant tend to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The Torenia plant is so popular that it is a companion to many veggies, like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers—all of which need pollinators. You can mix the various ornamental varieties to create an attractive array of blooms.
Propagation Torenia Plant.
When growing your favorite torenia flower cultivar and wanting to harvest it for its beauty rather than its seed pods, please wait until the flowers have begun fading in color and feel soft so that they’re easier to cut from their stems.
Let the flowers dry in a paper bag for a day, then shake to separate seeds from bloom. Store them in zip lock bags until spring planting time arrives again.
In colder regions, you may want to start your seeds indoors and wait until the last frost of the season passes before you start them directly outside in the soil—provided that they are mature enough.
Soak your seedling tray with enough water to form a small puddle in the bottom, but be careful not to overwater.
Place the seeds approximately ¼ inch below the soil surface and cover them lightly.
Place the tray where the temperature stays between 67°F and 73°F; if it drops below that range, you will have to wait even longer for your seeds to germinate.
In a week, the first seedlings will have emerged from the soil if you keep it moist.
Place the tray near a sunny window to receive plenty of sunlight.
Once your seedlings have reached four inches in height, you can transplant them into their pots or move them to the garden if the soil temperature stays at 60°F or above.
To propagate the torenia flower, you’ll want to use cuttings at least six inches long.
Put your cutting in water to soak, then place it at the bottom of a glass or jar so its roots can grow downward toward the base.
Plant it in a pot made of paper, peat, or some other material that holds water well when you first transplant the seedlings.
To make your plant acclimatize to the garden, gradually introduce it to outdoor conditions in a sheltered area before transplanting.
Torenia flowers grow best when they’re started from seed; you won’t have much success growing them through division or by taking cuttings.
The biggest drawback to using seed as a starting point for growing your plant is that it would take around six weeks to see the first signs of life under optimal conditions.
The germination rate is lower when you start with a whole bag of seeds, so thin them later as they grow.
It is easier to plant a large number of seeds than to grow a few and then go back and thin out the extras; this way, you’re sure to have enough plants.
Pruning and Maintenance.
Wishbone flowers require very little maintenance. Deadheading—removing spent blooms to keep the plant looking fresh and full—is unnecessary because this plant is self-cleaning: the faded flowers will drop off on their own. For a bushier look, you can pinch the back tips of young plants (each pinched tip will grow again).
Cultivars to Select.
Wishbone flowers are available in wide varieties; here are some to consider:
- Torenia Clown Mix – The flowers come in various colors, including pink and white, yellow and cream, or purple and white. They make excellent hanging baskets or potted plants for adding vivid color to your space.
- Moon Yellow – The cultivar’s flowers are light yellow and have a yellow center that makes them look like daisies. Their blooms are about the same size as Moon Purple’s, but these grow well in partial shade or full sun—whereas more torenia plants wither without some protection from harsh sunlight.
- Kauai Rose – This cultivar produces showy white flowers with pink spots around the edges and a bright yellow center. It won’t get more than eight inches high and wide at maturity. It can tolerate very high humidity and heat levels, but you will want to grow it in partial shade as too much sun exposure could prove harmful.
- Moon Purple – The flowers on this plant are bluish-purple and can grow up to 10 inches long. However, its spread of 16 inches makes it a hardy and colorful ground cover suitable for smaller spaces. If you live in a hot zone, this torenia plant will thrive as long as its soil remains slightly acidic and moist.
- Summer Wave – This plant is well known for its large flowers. The flowers come in various hues, including blue and amethyst.
Most plants in this category are more suited to growing in areas with less sunlight.
To avoid sunscalding on your torenia plant, you should plant it in a spot with as little direct sunlight as possible. Remember that the summer sun will cover more areas of your yard than at other times.
So, to grow up healthy and robust, Torenia plants need protection from direct sunlight. It would be best to plant them in a permanent structure’s shaded area—like a big mature shade tree or under the eaves of an outbuilding (such as your garage). If you keep yours indoors, ensure they’re not near windows that get afternoon sun!
The wishbone flower thrives in loamy soil that is slightly acidic to neutral. Excellent drainage is essential, as the plant will suffer from root rot if left sitting on wet earth for too long. Adding some compost to your garden before planting can improve its overall quality and increase the chance that your wishbone flowers will thrive. Wait to add any compost or mulch until after you have planted your plants; this will help them grow strong roots while they adjust to their new environment.
Wishbone flowers thrive in moist, well-drained soil. Moderate watering is best; you should water again when the top inch or so of soil feels dry. Be sure not to over-water, though—plants’ roots must never sit in soggy soil because this can cause root rot!
Soak the soil with enough water to reach 6–8 inches below the surface. Please do not add more water until you feel most of it has already drained out of the pot, indicating that your plant’s roots have absorbed as much moisture as needed.
Temperature and Humidity.
Do not put this plant in the sun, as this may cause the plant to overheat. This plant prefers a moderate temperature, so keep it under 65 at night and around 70 to 75 degrees during the day. They prefer mild temperatures and humidity, so mulching reduces the heat surrounding their roots.
To make your wishbone flowers bloom, fertilize them regularly with a balanced fertilizer. Follow the label instructions for applying liquid or granular forms of fertilizer—they’re listed for different purposes on each product’s packaging.
Managing common Pests & Plant Diseases.
Torenia plants have been known to fall prey to two diseases:
If you see water-soaked spotting on leaves or small patches of discolored areas that look like they have a coating of flour and are slightly darkened in color, this could be botrytis cinerea—the fungus responsible for fruit rots. Neem oil prevents the development of this disease and can even help cure existing infections. However, if it’s already begun, sprays with copper fungicidal will kill it off.
Powdery mildew may appear if the plant is grown in a humid environment. This looks like white powder on the leaves and stems of plants, but if untreated can cause problems for your garden. Good air circulation around your precious blooms will help prevent them from succumbing to this fungal disease.
Wishbone flowers are susceptible to two types of pests: aphids and whiteflies.
The two sucking insects that feed on wishbone flowers—aphids and whiteflies—attach themselves to the underside of leaves and stems. They pierce the plant’s skin with mouthparts called stylet tubes; then drink its sap. This causes blemishes (small bumps) on leaves; too many aphids or whitefly can cause severe defoliation in your flower garden!
Neem oil can be applied to leaves and is a natural insect repellent. The substance coats larvae, eggs, and other insects with an oily residue that inhibits their breathing mechanisms.
You can also use insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soap contains fatty acids that dissolve waxy coatings on insects’ exoskeletons and kill them.
The problems you experience most frequently will likely come from two sources: the weather and water:
Your wishbone flower will suffer from wilting if exposed to too much direct sunlight or if it is kept in a stiflingly-warm location with inadequate airflow.
Water your plant only when the soil has dried out. An even moisture level is best for fragile roots—if water remains in contact with them for too long, they may rot from bacterial infection.
This plant grows well in shaded areas of your yard, like under a tree or alongside the house. It also thrives in flower beds and borders if you mulch and water it regularly. You can also grow them in window boxes, balcony gardens, container plants, or hanging baskets. This way, you can enjoy their beauty all year round.
Overall, the easygoing nature of this plant makes it an excellent choice for home decorating. A torenia in your house won’t need much care or attention, which is especially helpful if you forget to water plants regularly. Thankfully, most species are forgiving and will live long when well-taken care of.
If you provide appropriate care and conditions, your torenia will bloom profusely. The biggest reason it won’t bloom is moisture—it hates sitting in soggy soil.
It would be best if you grew it in a climate with moderate temperatures and humidity. If the temperature is too hot, it will stunt your plant’s growth and reduce its ability to produce flowers.
You can use this short guide to get those optimal growing conditions. It’s an excellent plant for anyone who wants to add color to their garden or home. It can also help keep pests away, another benefit of growing it in your yard. It’s easy to grow and requires minimal care, so it’s a perfect flower for beginners. And you’ll be rewarded with lovely blooms all season long!
Frequently asked questions.
Is torenia a sun or shade?
To grow successfully, torenias need areas of morning sun and afternoon shade.
Do torenia come back every year?
Torenias are annuals, so they will not come back each year; however, if you let them go to seed and self-seed in the area where they grew before, you should get new seedlings next spring.
How do you keep torenia blooming?
Torenia prefers moist soil and will grow best if you feed your plants regularly with compost. Every week, pin any dead blooms to make room for new growth.
Do torenia need to be deadheaded?
You don’t have to remove the flowers as they fade, but some gardeners find that attractive. When your young plants are three inches tall, pinch back their growing tips so they’ll take on a more bushy shape than having just one stem.
What are the uses of wishbone flowers?
Wishbone flowers look great when grown in hanging baskets, containers, and even as a houseplant.
What Causes Torenia Leaves to Turn Brown?
Browning leaves on Torenia indicate either a lack of water or too much direct sunlight.