Torenia fournieri: Wishbone flower

Family: Linderniaceae
Common name: Wishbone flower, Bluewings

Wishbone flowers are breath-takingly beautiful with with shades of purple or pink outer petals, and a white throat with yellow markings. They were earlier classified in the family Scrophulariaceae or the figwort family. The plant grows to a height of 1-1.5 feet with simple, hairy leaves, having serrated edges. They grow short and bushy covering a pot or an area in your garden with bright, cheerful flowers in shades of violet, lavender, pink and white.

All the varieties are double-colored, except the white one. Wishbone plants flowers in spring and are seasonal, withering away once they bloom. The name wishbone flower comes from the stamens that join together in the shape of a wishbone. Wishbone plants can grow in partially-shaded area, but take to replanting or repotting well. Once they sprout, it is better to let them stay in the same place as replanting leads to stress that the plant will not be able to take.

Wishbones plants also look lovely hanging from pots on the ceiling or on garden structures. They do not like over-watering, the soil should be moist and well-drained, not wet. Since they are fast-growers and bloomers, they have to be fertilized frequently with a phosphorus-rich, balanced fertilizer.

Seeds are produced in seed pods that are oblong, pointed at the tip covered by 5 wings which are formed by the flower sepals. They contain numerous tiny yellow seeds which can be collected by hand once the seeds mature.

Propagation is from seeds or from stem cuttings. Stem cutting method is easier since stems root easily even in water.

Photo Courtesy: Tisa Sanoj, Rajeev Nair

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