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If your shady areas look dull and boring, you might want to try Torenia fourneiri, which blooms a lot and brightly in the shade.
This beautiful annual gets another “wow” point for its velvety, two- or three-colored trumpet-shaped flowers with small, contrasting-colored throats.
The flowers look a lot like their close relatives, the snapdragon and the foxglove. All three are in the same family, called Scrophulariaceae.
This small plant can grow in Zones 2–11. It is also known as wishbone flower, bluewings, and clown flower.
Let’s find out more about this cute little guy or gal.
For the Birds
This bushy plant comes from Asia and Africa. It grows seven to twelve inches tall and six to eight inches wide. But it isn’t aggressive or invasive, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over.
Hummingbirds will like the one-inch-by-one-and-a-half-inch flowers of torenia almost as much as you do because their sweet nectar is so good. This plant blooms from the middle of summer to the middle of fall.
It is called a “wishbone flower” because its two stamens grow from opposite sides of the flower and meet in the middle, making a shape like a chicken wishbone.
It is called a “clown flower” because its “face” is so colorful. The name “Bluewing” comes from the shape of its petals, which are often blue.
Ferns and impatiens are good plants to plant near torenia.
Of Lemons and Wine
Torenia comes in yellow, pink, purple, and white colors. You can get these seeds from Amazon if you want a deep blue variety.
Torenia comes in yellow, pink, purple, and white colors.
You can get these seeds from Amazon if you want a deep blue variety.
You will get at least 20 seeds that will grow into a bush that is six to nine inches wide and grows straight up.
This “Lemon Drop” cultivar can be bought on Amazon and can be used to light up a dark spot.
This variety makes a very pretty plant for a container.
Visit True Leaf Market for a beautiful Kauai mix with pink, yellow, and wine-colored flowers.
This type is more compact, blooms earlier, and has many branches.
Outdoors and In
Torenia is a beautiful border or bedding plant that grows slowly and looks great in pots, too. Some gardeners grow it indoors as well.
Torenia should be planted in a part-shaded area with moist, rich soil.
You can start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost or sow them directly in the garden right before the last frost date. At about 70°F, seeds should sprout in 10 to 15 days.
You should put down an inch of mulch after the seedlings come up or after you move them.
Pinch for Bushiness
Keep the soil damp, but not soggy, because these plants can get root rot and powdery mildew if the soil is too dry. You can treat the second one with a fungicide like this one from Garden Safe, which you can get on Amazon.
Be sure to water bluewings often, especially when it’s hot, and be thankful that they don’t have serious problems with pests or diseases.
Wishbone plants need phosphorus-rich plant food once or twice a month. Make sure to water the plants well before and after fertilizing to keep the roots from getting burned.
There’s no need to cut off the flower heads. Some gardeners even like the way the seed heads look.
When the young plants are about three inches tall, pinch back the growing tips to encourage branching and a bushy shape that looks nice.
Happier than a Clown
When you see these clown-faced flowers smiling at you from the shaded parts of your garden, you’re sure to feel better.