Rarely grown, but charming for patio pots, the wishbone flower is well worth getting to know
I am slightly hesitant to include annuals that I have not grown for a few years but, because torenia is rarely grown and, having a quick look for seeds, with limited success, I think I should mention it. In the UK I can only find it listed by Suttons, in blue, but plants are sometimes for sale in spring, from commercial growers.
Torenias, commonly called wishbone flowers because of the shape of the two stamens in the front of the flower, which are united at the top, are Asian annuals and in the Linderniaceae, having recently been split from the Scrophulariaceae (now Plantaginaceae).
The tubular flowers have five petals and the lower three are usually a darker shade than the upper two with a yellow flash in the mouth of the flower. The flowers are usually white and pink, mauve or purple/blue.
Plants grow to about 20cm high and seed-raised plants grow to about the same width though when bought as plants the varieties are often more spreading in habit.
They look vaguely like mimulus but in a different range of colours. They are easy to raise from seed and flower quickly, as small plants. In truth they do not flower all season and tend to exhaust themselves but they tolerate a little shade so are useful for containers. I first grew them as greenhouse plants for seasonal display under glass and perhaps they are best for this. We don’t do this any more, hence the demise of calceolarias, cinerarias and tender primulas. But it would be a shame if torenia seeds were no longer available and we lost this pretty annual.