Spruce up your shade garden with something new by planting wishbone flower. The plant gets its name from stamens that form wishbone shapes. This annual is also called clown flower because the interesting patterns and bright hues of the blooms often resemble colorful clown makeup. Wishbone flower comes in both trailing and upright varieties that do well in the ground and exceptionally well in containers, trailing abundantly from hanging baskets and window boxes.
Long-blooming wishbone flower brightens a shade garden by putting on a nonstop display of color from spring until frost. Most often found in shades of blue, the blossoms also come in pink, purple, white, and yellow. The glossy green foliage acts as a verdant backdrop for the plant's showy blooms. A fun fact: Once the stamens are pollinated, they typically break in half, just like the wishbones of Thanksgiving turkey fame.
Wishbone Flower Care Must-Knows
When planting wishbone flower, place it in well-drained soil with a good amount of organic matter. Because this annual is such a long and prolific bloomer, it needs regular additions of nutrients to maintain a beautiful display. For in-ground plantings, add compost or slow-release fertilizer to keep gorgeous displays going throughout the growing season. For wishbone flower in a container, add fertilizer in either a slow-release formation or by liquid feed on a regular basis. Wishbone flower prefers to be consistently moist, so don't let it dry out between waterings. Don't let the soil get and stay soggy, though, or root rot can become a problem.
Often grown as a shade plant, wishbone flower is tolerant of brighter sun exposures. As long as it is kept evenly moist and watered regularly, it can handle full sun conditions. The ideal growing conditions for this annual are found in part shade with protection from the hot afternoon sun. With full shade, the plant tends to bloom less and appear less dense than its sunnier counterparts. Some older varieties are less tolerant of hot weather. In southern climates, you should look for varieties that are better able to withstand the summer heat.
Consider a variety's habit, or form, when choosing a wishbone flower for your landscape or container. This plant comes in two classes: upright and trailing. Upright plants form small bushy mounds while low-growing trailing plants cascade well over the sides of containers. Deadheading can help keep plants looking neat, especially with the upright varieties. When starting wishbone flower's trailing varieties, pinch them back as young plants to encourage better branching.