How to Grow Wishbone Flowers: The Complete Wishbone Flower Guide

Purple Torenia Fournieri Flowers, the bluewings or wishbone flower, is an annual plant in the Linderniaceae, with blue, white, or pink flowers that have yellow markings.
Photo Credit
Lin Mei Chin
Botanical Name
Torenia fournieri
Plant Type

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Planting, Growing, and Caring for Wishbone Flowers

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Bring vibrant color and a touch of whimsy to your garden with the Wishbone Flower! This easy-care annual thrives in shade or partial shade, boasting unique trumpet-shaped blooms and colorful foliage. Learn how to grow Wishbone Flowers from seeds or transplants, and discover their surprising namesake feature!

About the Wishbone Flower

No bones about it: This plant makes wishes come true. Look closely at the trumpet-shaped flowers for the plant’s eponymous feature: A pair of stamens unite at the anthers in a way that resembles a wishbone, a part found in chickens, turkeys, and other birds.  

Also known as bluewings, Torenia fournieri is a perennial grown as an annual.

“Torenias hail from tropical portions of Asia and Africa and are named after Olof Toren (1718-1753), who traveled in China as a chaplain for the Swedish East India Company in the middle of the 18th century,” explains Gerald Klingaman, an Extension Horticulturist at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Wishbone flower grows well in shade or semi-shade (even indoors) if adequate moisture is maintained; legginess is a clue that more light is needed. Note that most cultivars are intolerant of sun and high heat. (The greater the amount of light that a wishbone flower can receive and tolerate, the wider the choices available as companion plants in containers; growth habits should be compatible.) 

Wishbone flower’s color appears not only in its blooms— its foliage can turn red or bronze in unseasonably cold weather.

Close-up of beautiful purple Torenia fournieri or wishbone flowers in sunlight with a blurred background.


Purchasing wishbone flowers or starting its seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost in a 70° to 75°F environment are options. For the latter, do not cover: Light aids germination, which can take 7 to 15 days.

Plant 1 to 2 weeks after the last spring frost date. Provide a well-draining medium; use a potting mix amended with organic matter (compost and/or aged manure). See our guide to using manure in the garden.


Place the wishbone flower where it will be in partial to full shade.

Water for consistent moisture, not saturation. Apply a balanced fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season.

Deadheading is not necessary; plants are self-cleaning.

Failure to bloom usually indicates too much shade and a need for sunlight. If trailing, avoid pinching, as this promotes bushy growth.

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Wit and Wisdom

  • The tradition of treasuring the furcula (“little fork” in Latin)—the forked bone found at the front of most birds’ breasts—dates from the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. They believed poultry to be oracles and this bone the key to a bird’s prescience. After a bird died, they would dry the bone in the sun; later it could be picked up and rubbed by those who passed by in order to get wishes granted—hence, “wishbone.” 


Diseases: powdery mildew, Pythium root and stem rot, viruses. 

Pests: aphids, whiteflies.

About The Author

Carol Connare

As the 14th editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Carol Connare works with writers and other editors to develop “new, useful, and entertaining matter” for the annual Almanac as well as books, calendars, and other publications. Read More from Carol Connare

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