How to Plant and Grow Wishbone Flower

This colorful annual will put on a show all season long.

In This Article
View All
In This Article

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.

Wishbone Flower Overview

Genus Name Torenia fournieri
Common Name Wishbone Flower
Plant Type Annual
Light Part Sun, Shade
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 18 inches
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

Colorful Combinations

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.

More Varieties of Wishbone Flower

'Catalina Gilded Grape' Wishbone Flower

'Catalina Gilded Grape' wishbone flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia 'Catalina Gilded Grape' is a mounding selection featuring bright yellow flowers with purple throats. It grows 16 inches tall and trails 24 inches.

'Catalina White Linen' Wishbone Flower

'Catalina White Linen' wishbone flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia 'Catalina White Linen' shows off lovely pure-white flowers on a compact, mounding/trailing plant. It grows 16 inches tall and 24 inches across.

'Clown Mix' Wishbone Flower

'Clown Mix' wishbone flower
Cynthia Haynes

Torenia 'Clown Mix' offers a mixture of colors, including blue with purple edges, on compact, 1-foot-tall plants.

'Kauai Rose' Wishbone Flower

'Kauai Rose' wishbone flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia fournieri 'Kauai Rose' has uniform, upright plants with bright pink blooms on extremely heat and humidity tolerant plants.

'Moon Purple' Wishbone Flower

'Moon Purple' wishbone flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia 'Moon Purple' has a mounding or trailing habit and lovely lavender-purple flowers over shiny green foliage. It grows 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide.

'Moon Yellow' Wishbone Flower

'Moon Yellow' Wishbone Flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia 'Moon Yellow' has a mounding/trailing habit and soft yellow flowers with a purple throat. It grows 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide.

Summer Wave 'Large Amethyst' Wishbone Flower

Summer Wave 'Large Amethyst' wishbone flower
Justin Hancock

Torenia Summer Wave® 'Large Amethyst' is a vigorous trailing type featuring large blooms of lovely amethyst purple.

Summer Wave 'Large Blue' Wishbone Flower

Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue' and 'Summer Wave Large Violet'
Peter Krumhardt

Torenia Summer Wave 'Large Blue' has plants with excellent heat and humidity tolerance have a trailing habit and large deep blue flowers.

Wishbone Flower Companion Plants

Sweet Alyssum

sweet alyssum white flowers
Peter Krumhardt

Sweet alyssum, with its dainty, fragrant flowers, is often used in containers and hanging baskets to spill over the edges, creating a soft, frothy look. It's also a great edging plant because of its tidy, compact habit. Regardless of how you use it, sweet alyssum does best in spring and fall's cool conditions (or use it for winter color in very warm climates). In cool-summer conditions, such as the northern third of the United States, sweet alyssum will bloom steadily through the summer. It halts bloom in summer in warmer areas.


begonia big rose with bronze leaf
Justin Hancock

Talk about foolproof: Annual begonia is about as easy as it gets. It does well in a variety of conditions, but to keep it its most luxuriant best, give it light shade; rich, well-drained soil; and ample water. It also loves plenty of fertilizer, so be generous. Plant annual begonias in spring after all danger of frost has passed. No need to deadhead this flower unless you want to, it's "self-cleaning!"


Impatiens Swirl Coral
Peter Krumhardt

What would we do without impatiens? It's the old reliable for shade gardens when you want eye-popping color all season long. The plants bloom in just about every color except true blue and are well suited to growing in containers or in the ground. If you have a bright spot indoors, you may be able to grow impatiens all year as an indoor plant.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles