Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)

Wishbone Flower

When looking for a long lasting and attention-grabbing addition to the part sun flower bed, consider the wishbone flower plant. Torenia fournieri, the wishbone flower, is a short ground-hugging beauty with profuse and delicate blooms. Don’t be fooled though; while the flowers appear delicate, they are tough and able to withstand the hottest of summer heat when properly located in the landscape. Learning how to grow a wishbone flower is easy enough for even the beginning gardener.

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Torenia fournieri, the bluewings or wishbone flower, is an annual plant in the Linderniaceae.

The annual Linderniaceae plant Torenia Fournieri, often known as the bluewings or Wishbone Flower, has blue, white, or pink blooms with yellow markings. It usually grows as a landscape annual and gets 12 to 15 inches long. To add some color and vitality to a more shady area of the garden, Wishbone Flowers are an excellent pick.

These small plants wouldn’t mind growing in partial shade, unlike many other annual flowers. The predominant species’ color is dark blue-purple and lavender with yellow markings; however, its trumpet-shaped flowers are available in a variety of colors. The plant gets its popular name from the way that each flower’s stamens join together to form an arrangement that resembles a wishbone.

Plant wishbone flowers in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. While they are annuals and will die at the first fall frost, they grow quickly and bloom profusely from early summer until cold weather sets in. Moreover, the plants are deer-resistant and attractive to hummingbirds.

The wishbone flower is ideal for containers and may be grown as a houseplant. It is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 11, allowing many to use this small attractive flower somewhere in the landscape.

II. How to Grow and Care

Aside from keeping your plants sufficiently watered and fed, there isn’t much maintenance necessary. Deadheading (removing spent blooms) isn’t essential, though it can help to encourage more growth and flowering. Furthermore, if a plant looks scraggly, you can trim it back to about half its height.

Sunlight

The ideal location for wishbone flowers is where it receives early morning sun and afternoon shade. If you live in a climate that has hot summers, pick a fairly shady location for your plants. It will not thrive in full sun.

Temperature and Humidity

Wishbone flowers grow best in temperatures of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. They can tolerate cooler temperatures, though frost will kill the plants. They also don’t like excessive heat or humidity and can benefit from a layer of mulch in hot climates to keep their roots cool.

Watering

Wishbone flower has moderate watering requirements, but it likes being slightly on the wet side. Water your plant when the top few layers of soil feel dry, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. Water thoroughly but keep in mind that waterlogged soil can only cause harm.

Soil

Wishbone flower prefers organically rich, loamy soil with a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. Excellent soil drainage is essential to prevent root rot. To improve the soil quality, consider mixing in some compost at the time of planting.

Fertilizing

To keep wishbone flowers healthy and blooming, provide a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer roughly every few weeks throughout the growing season (spring to fall). You can either use a liquid fertilizer or a slow-release granular fertilizer, following label instructions.

Planting Instructions

Wishbone flowers are easy to grow and require very little care. Plant them in a rich loamy soil that is well drained. Choose a location that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. In hotter locations, full shade is best. Besides watering and occasional feeding, very little maintenance is necessary. Deadheading is not needed but can encourage additional flowering. 

Pruning

Pinching off the growing tip of the flower when it reaches a couple of inches high will help to create a bushier plant. If the plant looks scraggly, feel free to shape it as you wish. You can prune this plant back to about half its overall height.

Propagation

To propagate wishbone flowers, take stem cuttings that are at least six inches long . Try to get a node (raised bump) at the bottom of the stem, which is likely to root. Remove any leaves on the lower half of the cutting and place the cutting in water. Once roots begin to grow, plant the cutting in a peat or paper pot filled with a quality potting mix, and keep the soil moist. Then, bring the plant outside for increasingly longer stretches for about a week to acclimate it to the outdoors before planting it in your garden or in an outdoor container.

How to Grow from Seed

If you want to grow your wishbone flowers from seed, start the seeds six to eight weeks before your area’s projected last frost date. Note that the flowers don’t transplant well, so the seeds should be started in peat or paper pots that you can plant along with the seedlings. In frost-free climates, wishbone flowers can be direct-seeded in your desired planting site outdoors about one week before your last expected frost date.

Don’t cover the seeds with soil because they need light to germinate. Keep the soil moist and relatively warm—around 70 degrees Fahrenheit—until the seeds germinate. After that, they can handle cooler temperatures.

How to Get to Bloom

These flowers readily produce profusions of blooms if the conditions are right. The biggest culprit of wishbone flowers not blooming is moisture – this plant doesn’t like sitting in soggy soil and might not bloom if the soil is too wet. It should be grown in an area with moderate temperatures and humidity, as anything too hot or humid will stunt the growth.

Overwintering

Wishbone flowers are annual plants that will be destroyed by the first frost. You can’t overwinter these plants.

Pests and Diseases

Wishbone flowers don’t have any major problems with pests or diseases. But they can be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, that can discolor and damage their leaves and stems. Providing optimal growing conditions and good air circulation for the plants should help to prevent most problems.

Moreover, some common garden pests, including aphids and whiteflies, will prey on wishbone flowers. With aphids, you might notice a sticky residue that these insects leave behind as they feed on the plants. And with whiteflies, you often can see the tiny flying insects rise up in a cloud when the plant is disturbed. You can control these problems with insecticidal soap.

III. Uses and Benefits 

  • Ornamental uses

Wishbone flower is a bushy annual suitable for shady areas of a garden, where it can provide a constant injection of color throughout the summer until the first frost. The vibrant purple-colored flower contrasts well against dark evergreens and makes a wonderful addition to hanging baskets and woodland gardens.

  • Other uses

Ayurvedic doctors have utilized the Two-Colour Wishbone Flower to cure gonorrhea and treat corneal infections. It is said that a paste prepared from the plant, combined with cloves, sandalwood, musk, and rosewater, may effectively treat exanthemata.

Since the Wishbone Flower is non-toxic, it’s safe to consume and is often used in as garnish in dishes and drinks.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri) Details

Common name Wishbone Flower
Botanical name Torenia fournieri
Plant type Annual
Growth rate Medium
Height 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
Width 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
Sunlight Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
Soil condition High Organic Matter
Flower color Blue
Leaf color Green