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Plant of the Month: Torenia


Torenia ‘Kauai’ Series

Latin name: Torenia fournieri ‘Kauai’ series

Common name: Wishbone flower
Flowers: 1” bicolor flowers
Mature size: 10” tall by 10” wide
Hardiness: Summer annual
Soil: Well-drained
Exposure: Light shade to full sun
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Local nurseries 

This seed-grown annual surprised me last year – during a time officially known as the “hottest summer on record” in North Texas. In the past, I had relegated this plant to a group of early spring and shade plants only. Well, once again I was wrong. Last summer, ‘Kauai’ torenia flowered all summer long in part-sun and in shade. The plants that received morning sun actually flowered even better than those with all-day shade, and they flowered all summer, right up until first frost. 

This torenia is non-spreading, so it will get only about 10 inches tall and 10 inches wide over the length of the season. There are seven colors and a mix available. The colors are Blue & White, Burgundy, Deep Blue, Lemon Drop, Magenta, Rose and White. I recommend planting in well-drained soil with at least some late-afternoon shade. They will perform well anywhere you would put impatiens or begonias for summer. You will find this torenia at local nurseries, most likely in 4-inch pots for bedding.

They are relatively maintenance-free, having no disease or pest problems we’ve discovered, and they don’t need any deadheading to stay attractive. I do find they need regular feeding with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep growing and flowering through the season. 

If you’re curious why they are called “wishbone flowers,” take a close look at one of the flowers. You will find two stamens that are fused to look just like a little white wishbone in the center of the flower.