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---Anne K Moore, February 18, 2009---

If you are looking for the perfect annual flower for shade containers, look for Torenia, also called wishbone flower.  It covers itself with happy faces in shade or part-shade.  I have even seen it blooming happily in Texas sun.  You have humid summers?  Torenia blooms right through them.

The species is attractive with small flowers.  Most have deep colors with yellow throats.  For a more spectacular showing, look for the Proven Winners® brand of hybrids, Summer Wave® or Catalina® series.

Summer Wave® Torenias blossom with larger than normal flowers in dusky shades of amethyst-pink, blue, and violet.  All have multiple awards from trial gardens at universities and botanical gardens all over the U.S.

The Proven Winners Catalina® series of Torenias is two-toned.  Blue, Midnight Blue, and Pink all have yellow throats.  One, called Gilded Grape, has gold petals surrounding a purple center.

Summer Wave® Blue and Catalina® Midnight Blue are the top sellers, proving that blues, although often hard to find, are still very popular in the garden.

Use these little plants with the big flowers at the edges of containers where they will tumble over the sides.  Pair the blues with the vivid foliage of heucheras Dolce® Key Lime Pie or Dolce® Peach Melba.  Try the pinks with Dolce® Mocha Mint or Dolce® Licorice. 

All of these heucheras are award-winners, too.

Although the wishbone flowers are listed as self-cleaning and needing no deadheading, I find that occasionally they will be covered with seed heads and stop blossoming.  I then shear the whole plant to below the seeds and it seems to send up new flowers quicker than if I wait for nature to take its course.  Busy gardeners can wait for the new flush without doing anything.

If you don't see these wonderful little plants at your garden center, ask the center to stock them.  These friendly little flowers will steal the show in shade.


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GardenSMART Featured Article


By Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners/ColorChoice Shrubs

Landscaping is often an exercise in problem solving: we may have an ideal plant in mind, only to find that it won’t thrive in our yards because our site or soil isn’t suitable. Fortunately, plants are wonderfully diverse and adaptable, so you’re guaranteed to find beautiful, landscape-worthy shrubs that withstand most any of Mother Nature’s curveballs. Think of the plants listed below as the landscape equivalent of the old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” — they tolerate and even thrive under the difficult conditions commonly found in backyards everywhere. This means less work for you and a better performance from your plants!

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