How to Grow Wishbone Flower — Torenia

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Torenia–commonly called wishbone flower– is a bushy annual with serrated light green leaves and, from summer to early fall, flared blooms with bi-color blossoms pale lilac and blue-purple, yellow and white, or rose and white petals. Torenia looks like miniature gloxinias or monkeyflowers (Mimulus).

Torrenia fournieri is often grown in summer bedding. Set Torenia at the front of an annual or mixed border. It can also be grown as a summer-flowering houseplant or cool-greenhouse plant.

The Torenia genus includes about 40 erect to spreading annuals and perennials. All are native to woodlands and high altitudes in tropical Africa and Asia.

Wishbone flower, Torenia
Wishbone flower, Torenia

Get to know Torenia

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Growing Zones and range: All zones as an annual
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 9 to 15 inches (23-38cm) tall; 6 to 24 inches (15-61cm) wide
  • Foliage: Ovate to lance-shaped leaves may be entire or toothed
  • Flowers: Tubular then flaring, two-lipped flowered are pansy-colored
  • Flower colors: Blue, lavender, violet, red, pink, and white
  • Bloom time: Spring to frost
  • Uses: Bedding, edging, containers, hanging baskets
  • Common name: Wishbone Flower
  • Botanical name: Torenia fournieri
  • Family: Scrophulariaceae
  • Origin: Tropical woodlands and mountain areas in Africa and Asia
Yellow Wishbone, Torenia flava
Yellow Wishbone, Torenia flava

Where to plant Torenia

  • Plant Torenia in light to medium shade; plant in full sun in cool-summer regions where temperatures do not exceed 75°F/24°C.
  • Grow Torenia in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Work aged compost into the soil at planting time.

Torenia uses

  • Use Torenia as an edging for beds and borders.
  • Grow Torenia in containers.
  • Lift Troenia during autumn for indoor bloom.

When to plant Torenia

  • Set Torenia in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Sow seeds 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil.

Planting and spacing Torenia

  • Space Torenia 6 to 24 inches (15-61cm) apart.

How to water and feed Torenia

  • Torenia needs abundant water; keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Torenia every 4 to 6 weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer or work in a slow-release fertilizer at planting time.
A field of Torenia
A field of Torenia

Torenia care

  • Mulch around Torenia to conserve soil moisture.
  • Root rot can be a problem for the Torenia in wet, poorly drained soil.

Torenia pests and diseases

  • Torenia can be affected by root rot, gray mod, and powdery mildew.

Torenia propagation

  • Torenia seeds germinate uncovered in 7 to 15 days at 70°F (21°C); plant out when all danger of frost is past.

Torenia varieties to grow

  • Torenia fournieri, wishbone flower: Grows to 12 inches tall with 1.5-inch purple flowers with deep violet lobes and a yellow blotch on the throat; cultivar ‘Clown Mix’ series is popular and bears lavender and white, violet and purple, and pink and white flowers with yellow throats
  • T. flava, yellow wishbone flower: grows 8 to 12 inches tall with golden yellow flowers that have a dark purple-red throat.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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