Flowers

Torenia Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Wishbone Flower”

Read our guide to Torenia for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Wishbone Flower”

Torenia is a small genus that contains exactly 3 species of delicate-looking flowering plants – T. asiatica, T. crustacea, and T. fournieri. The flowers from this genus go by various common names including Wishbone flowers, Bluewings, Ola’a beauty, or Nanioola’a. However, the representative species for this genus is none other than Torenia fournieri.

You might be tempted to think that Wishbone flowers are fragile. But this could not be further from the truth! These annual plants are hardy throughout their seasons of interest. Likewise, besides their moderate water demands, they do not need constant attention from their owner. Only love!

Keep reading to find out more interesting facts about the easy-going Torenia plants a.k.a. Wishbone flowers!

About Torenia

  • Torenia plants are native to several regions of Asia, with the widest distribution among the tropical monsoon and subtropical climate zones. They grow mostly in hilly areas in moist, organic-rich, and well-draining soils.
  • Wishbone flowers come in numerous varieties and hybrids, giving you so many great options to choose from. Some of the most gorgeous cultivars are ‘Catalina White Linen’, ‘Clown Mix’, ‘Golden Moon’, ‘Kauai Rose’, ‘Moon Purple’, and ‘SUNrenilabu’.
  • Torenia plants have our appreciation for their prolonged blooming period. And the great this is that you can make them bloom for many months with a little trick. Deadhead all spent flowers regularly to make room for new, healthy ones to bloom.
  • Their blossoms are not bewitching only for us, passionate gardeners. With their generous colour palette, they attract enchanting visitors like bees and hummingbirds.
  • These plants are super versatile, providing a nice dash of colour to different landscape decorations. They will look absolutely amazing in beds, borders, woodland gardens, window boxes, containers, or hanging baskets.
  • Wishbone flowers can make for excellent companion plants to other eye-catching species. The most suitable companions for them include Acorus gramienus ‘Ogon’, Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Diamond Frost’, Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’, and Petunia ‘Wave Rose’.
  • Torenia plants are not toxic to either humans or animals. You can grow them safely around your kids or pets, no matter how curious they are.
Torenia fournieri
Torenia fournieri

Torenia Features: An Overview

  • Wishbone flowers belong to the Linderniaceae family of flowering plants. They share this family with other interesting genera, such as Ameroglossum, Artanema, Craterostigma, Isabelcristinia, Lindernia, Picria, and Schizotorenia.
  • Torenia plants are bushy annuals that can reach from 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) in height and 6 to 9 inches (15-22 cm) in width. In their natural habitat, they can grow as tall as 12 feet (3.6 m).
  • Wishbone flowers tend to develop and spread at a pretty fast pace. These plants have a compact growing habit overall. Since they are annuals, the plants will die once frost begins to show its presence, usually in autumn.
  • Their foliage consists of numerous large, shiny, oval, and toothed leaves that appear on long, upright, slightly thick stems. Depending on the cultivar, both the leaves and stems of Wishbone flowers can show up with light green to silvery-pink tones.
  • In general, the blooming period of Torenia plants can last from early summer through the first sign of frost. They produce many delicate, two-lipped, trumpet-shaped blossoms on the same stems the leaves are growing.
  • The hypnotic, bicolour flowers of these plants exhibit various shades of white, yellow, purple, lavender, blue, pink, rose, or black. Each flower contains a pair of stamens that create a shape that looks very similar to a wishbone.

Growing Torenia

As with most annual species, keeping your Torenia plants alive will be a piece of cake. But! Although these flowers are very easy to grow and care for, you will still have to pay attention to some particular demands. Now let’s try to dive deeper into the hearts and dreams of these stunning plants!

When it comes to lighting, Wishbone flowers will adapt to a wide variety of conditions. In general, these plants prefer lots of morning sunlight with some full shade during the afternoon. If you live in a region with hot summer months, we warmly recommend you grow your flowers in a spot where they can receive only partial to full shade daily.

Torenia plants are hardy as annuals in the USDA zones 2 through 11. They can tolerate cold temperatures, but frost is their biggest enemy as it can kill them in an instant. On the other hand, excessive heat can also affect the overall health of your beloved plants. While the ideal daytime temperatures for them typically range from 70 to 75 °F (21-24 °C), the temperatures during the night should be around 65 to 70 °F (18-21 °C) at night.

When Wishbone flowers grow in optimal conditions, they do not encounter any major issues with pests or diseases. However, improper growing conditions and poor air circulation can make these plants susceptible to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. If you notice some discolouration or damage on the foliage, you must remove the unhealthy parts to prevent the spread.

Likewise, some intruders like aphids and whiteflies may bother your Wishbone flowers once in a while. You can get rid of these pests by applying insecticidal soap on the foliage regularly until the last sign of infestation has gone.

Torenia Fournieri – 100 Seeds, From Amazon

Planting Torenia

You can usually find Torenia plants as grown-up specimens in markets or nurseries. If not, however, you can always start your own plants from seeds. The best time to sow Torenia seeds outdoors would be a week or so after the last frost date in your region. For optimal results, cover the seeds with soil only a bit and provide them with lots of light and regular moisture.

If you want to be the lucky owner of happy Torenia plants, you will have to plant yours in a particular type of soil. As a rule, they do well in moist, loamy, acidic to neutral soil that is rich in organic matter. Moreover, to avoid problems like root rot, it is wise to look for a substrate that has excellent drainage. You can improve the soil’s quality and drainage by mixing some compost in it before planting your flowers.

Wishbone flowers will benefit from regular fertilizing because this process helps them grow and bloom at their best. The perfect product for these plants is either a liquid or a slow-release granular, all-purpose fertilizer. Make sure you feed your Wishbone flowers with it once every few weeks during their active growing period, usually from spring through fall.

Watering Torenia

Like many other annuals, Torenia plants have moderate water needs. These flowers will grow healthy and happy if you provide them with water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Still, you should be careful not to over-water your plants or allow them to experience soggy conditions for a long time. Too much moisture may easily result in root rot, causing your Torenia plants to die off eventually.

In terms of humidity, you should keep your Wishbone flowers on low to moderate levels. Excessive humidity will make your plants more prone to fungal diseases and you surely do not want that!

Propagating Torenia

Since Torenia plants look absolutely spectacular when they are growing in masses, you cannot possibly miss the opportunity to get the best out of your flowers. However, we know that you do not want to spend too much on a single type of plant. And the good news is that you don’t have to! Luckily, you can propagate your Torenia plants with little to no effort at home.

The most efficient way to propagate your Wishbone flowers is using stem cuttings. Keep in mind that your beloved plants should be mature when you are starting this process. Look for healthy stems and cut at least 6 inches (15 cm) off them with a clean, sharp knife. Before taking the cuttings, make sure that each has one growing node at the bottom. The node (raised bump) will help you increase your chances of success.

Wishbone Flower
Wishbone Flower

Once you have the Torenia cuttings, remove any leaves you can find on the lower half of each one. After this, place the cuttings directly in the water until the roots begin to develop. If you notice a nice root growth, you can plant the cuttings in a pot filled with good-quality potting mix. Water the tiny plants whenever the soil feels dry to the touch to maintain it moist.

We warmly suggest you bring your baby Torenia plants outside gradually for a week or so to let them get used to being outdoors. When this adjustment period has passed, you can plant them in your garden. Or, of course, keep some of them to surprise your friends or family members with a nice gift!

In Conclusion

Torenia plants a.k.a. Wishbone flowers are truly adorable, colourful, and super low-demanding overall. In fewer words, anything a gardener can dream of! Even if these buddies are annuals and do not stay with us for as much as we would like, the time spent with them can bring us nothing but joy. So, if you’re looking for unique-looking and attractive flowers to grow in your garden or on your balcony, give Torenia plants a chance!

Are you growing Torenia plants? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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