How to Grow Torenia / Wishbone Flower and Harvest Seeds

by Corinne Mossati

Torenia fournieri is a short annual flowering plant with prolific trumpet-shaped flowers and oval shaped serrated leaves that add a pop of colour to the garden.

Torenia / Wishbone Flower

Torenia / Wishbone Flower – Photo © The Gourmantic Garden

Wishbone Flower

Torenia fournieri, commonly called wishbone flower, is a short and bushy annual plant in the Linderniaceae with prolific trumpet-shaped flowers and oval shaped serrated leaves. The delicate flowers come in a variety of colours, purple, pink and white and are almost velvety to the touch. Torenia can be grown as a border, in containers and in hanging planters. Mine is growing in a ‘rescued’ pot as a ‘centrepiece’ on the garden table.

In my garden, torenia flowers in summer into autumn and the low growing plant (15-30cm high) attracts a multitude of pollinators. It’s a beautiful, no fuss ornamental that I grow every year.

How to Grow Torenia

Torenia / Wishbone Flower

Torenia / Wishbone Flower – Photo © The Gourmantic Garden

Many years ago before I started gardening, I bought a punnet of torenia seedlings, planted it in the ground and forgot about it. It thrived and bloomed for the duration of its life. Then many years later, as I was clearing some overgrown weeds, I noticed something growing in that spot and recognised the serrated leaves.

Torenia can be grown from seed though it’s much easier to buy a seedling. The seeds are like sand and very difficult to handle. However, don’t let that stop you from trying.

Pink and White Wishbone Flower

Pink and White Torenia – Photo © The Gourmantic Garden

To grow torenia from seed, during spring, mix the seeds with clean sand and sprinkle them on top of moist seed raising mix pressing down. Don’t bury them as the seeds need light to germinate. Keep the surface moist but lightly misting with a water bottle and in approximately 10 days, you may see the seeds germinate.

Germination rate is low and it pays to be patient. Once several true leaves are formed, it can be transplanted. Some sources say that torenia doesn’t transplant well but that hasn’t been my experience. I have transplanted seedlings and plants around the garden, from the ground to a container, from a small pot to a larger container and they have all thrived. My tip is to take the root ball and a lot of the soil with it to ensure minimum disruption.

Plant torenia in a position that’s partly shaded and mulch well to give the plant protection from drying out. Keep the soil moist but don’t overwater as it’s susceptible to root rot. It’s that simple. The flowers are prolific, they drop on their own and new ones open. It’s a low maintenance and attractive ornamental to have in a garden of any size.

How to Harvest Torenia Seeds

Harvesting the seeds is by far the greatest challenge. Not only are they like grains of sand, they are not easy to identify at first.

Torenia Seed

Torenia Seed – Photo © The Gourmantic Garden

Torenia seeds are stored in pods located underneath the flowers from which they emerge. The pods are green at the stage and once the flowers drop, the pods remains slightly open but the seeds are not ripe for collection. Once the pods turn brown in colour and start to dry, another pod or membrane opens to reveal the seeds as in the photo above.

The easiest method is to carefully snip the pod with secateurs and leave them to dry indoors in a well ventilated area.

Are Torenia Flowers Edible

Torenia flowers are reportedly edible (source) and some chefs are known to use them as garnish in salads (source). They are flavourless and much like heartsease, violas and butterfly pea flower, you may wish to use them to garnish cocktails or freeze them in ice cubes.

Want to Know More?

You’ll find more information on how to grow 50 botanicals, which varieties to try, how to pair them with food and spirits, and how to use them in cocktails including a full recipe in my 260+ page digital book GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN available now.


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