Torenia fournieri [tor-EN-ee-uh for-NEER-eye] is an attractive annual plant hailing from Asia. It comes from the family Linderniaceae.
The common name for Torenia plants is the “wishbone flower” because the stamens of the blossom unite at the anthers forming a shaped like a chicken wishbone. Other common names include:
- Florida pansy
- Clown flower
The name – Torenia – honors the Rev. Olaf Toren who was chaplain of the Swedish East India Company in the mid-1700s.
The specific species (Fournier) is in honor of a French botanist Eugene Pierre Nicholas Fournier who lived and worked during the mid-1800s.
Wishbone Flower Torenia Care
Size & Growth
The wishbone flower typically grows to be between 6″ to 12″ inches tall. It’s mounding, trailing growth habit makes it quite suitable as a shady place groundcover or grown in a container or hanging basket plant.
The leaves are narrow, sticky, hairy, oval, toothed and light green, measuring approximately 3″ inches in length.
Flowering & Fragrance
Bluewings flower produces generous numbers of dark purple and pale violet flowers from early June until the first frost date in autumn.
The lightly fragrant, bicolored flowers are trumpet-shaped or tubular.
The original Wishbone flower is pale violet and has dark, bluish-purple “lips” with a yellow throat blotch.
There are many cultivars today producing flowers in other shades such as white, lavender, pink, rose and burgundy.
Light & Temperature
Florida pansy is classified as a warm weather annual, but it does not do well in very hot and humid weather. As a showy annual plant, grow Torenia in all USDA hardiness zones 2 to 11 and flourishes in full sun, part sun, and full shade.
Watering & Fertilizer
Be sure to keep the soil well watered and consistently moist. Don’t overwater, as with most plants, standing in water leads to rotting roots. Use soaker hoses to water and prevent getting the leaves and flowers wet as this promotes problems with mildew.
To keep plants blooming throughout the growing season, provide a balanced, all-purpose plant food (10–10–10 or 20–20–20).
For liquid feeding use a ratio of approximately a tablespoonful of fertilizer concentrate per gallon of water. Fertilize twice a month throughout the growing season.
Soil & Transplanting
Torenia grows well in a rich, moist well-draining soil amended with organic matter. A thick layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist and cool.
When purchasing wishbone flowers at nurseries or the garden center, be aware that they do not transplant well. They do best when grown from seed in peat pots. The peat pots allow you to set the plants out without disturbing the root system.
When transplanting young plants outdoors, transition them carefully to avoid being shocked by the different environmental conditions. After transplanting, pinch the plants back a bit to promote bushier growth.
Grooming And Maintenance
Wishbone flower requires very little maintenance. After the initial pinching back, remove any dead or withered foliage to avoid problems with mildew. Deadhead the flowers if you wish, but it is not necessary. This plant blooms freely and abundantly with very little care.
How To Propagate The Torenia Flower
Start seeds indoors up to two months before the predicted last frost. Seed can also be sown directly into the soil immediately before the last frost.
Whether you sow the seeds indoors or outdoors, leave them exposed to light. Don’t cover them with soil. They need light to germinate.
During the germination time, keep seeds in moist soil and a warm setting (approximately 70° degrees Fahrenheit). Once the seeds germinate, the temperature can be slightly cooler.
It is also possible to propagate using cuttings.
Wishbone Flower Torenia Pest or Diseases
If kept too damp or too crowded, these plants are subject to problems with powdery mildew and root rot.
Otherwise, they experience no serious problems. Torenia is deer resistant and attracts pollinators, especially hummingbirds.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, pets?
Clown flower is considered ornamental only. There is no evidence that it is at all toxic.
Is The Florida Pansy Considered Invasive?
Wishbone flower does grow wild in Asia and can easily naturalize in a truly tropical setting. In warm locations (USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11) the plant will reseed itself. Even so, it is not vigorous enough in the US to be considered invasive.
Suggested Uses For Wishbone Flowers
Wishbone flower is an excellent choice as in addition to a shaded or woodland garden. It does well in flower beds and borders as long as the soil is kept evenly moist and well mulched, and plants are not exposed to excessive direct sunlight or heat.
Wishbone flower can also be grown in window boxes, hanging baskets or as a container plant outdoors in the spring and summer and indoors during the winter.