More on La. Super Plant Kauai torenias

Kauai Burgundy torenia. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Kauai Burgundy torenia. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist

We are well into the spring bedding plant season. You may want a few warm-season flowers in the shady areas around your landscape. Most of our warm-season flowers prefer full sun or at least more sun than shade. But many great bedding plants will provide desirable flowering and foliage for those shaded areas in your landscape through fall. Examples are impatiens, begonias, caladiums, and coleus and torenia.

Impatiens have traditionally been the top selling warm-season flower for shade. Overall, it the most-sold, warm-season bedding plant around the country, and impatiens come in many flower colors. Morning sun is fine, but impatiens will need shade from late morning through late afternoon, if possible, to perform best. Impatiens will flower throughout the warm season of the year.

For the past two years, a new problem has arisen with impatiens in the landscape. A new disease, called impatiens downy mildew, has devastated impatiens plantings statewide. This disease is a fungus and very difficult to control. Due to this issue, growers, garden centers, and landscapers are using less impatiens in landscape plantings. An alternative bedding plant to consider instead of impatiens is torenia, also called wishbone flower. Torenia is a great, underused shade-performing plant that more gardeners need to know.

One of the best of the torenia flowers is the Kauai series. These are gaining in popularity and have been proven performers in three years of trials at the LSU AgCenter. The Kauai torenia are seed propagated and flower colors include blue and white, lemon drop, deep blue, rose, burgundy, and the unique magenta. You can also buy mixed colors of Kauai torenias. Most flowers have a yellow blotch on the flower petals.

These flowers are a native of Vietnam so they are well adapted to perform great in our hot and humid Louisiana climates. The recommended planting time is April through mid-May. A well drained landscape bed is needed. They are short, mounding, and compact growers only reaching 8-10 inches tall in the landscape. It is best to plant 10-12 inches apart. Plants spread 8-10 inches. Plants bloom constantly from mid spring planting through the fall months. Removal of old flowers is not needed. Torenia are considered a low maintenance bedding plant.

Kauai torenia will work well as companion plants to the plants most commonly planted with impatiens. Place torenia on the edges of plant beds, along the borders of shady, woodland gardens. They also will work well in a shaded container along a pathway or on a patio where evening shade is provided.

Another torenia for Louisiana is the vegetatively propagated Summer Wave series. Flower colors include white, pink, purple, lavender and yellow. These are wider spreading forms than what you will see with the Kauai series.

Warm season bedding plants to consider that have been previously named Louisiana Super Plants are BabyWing begonias, Little Ruby alternanthera (Joseph’s coat), Butterfly pentas, Bandana lantanas, Senorita rosalita cleome and Serena angelonias (summer snapdragon).

Louisiana Super Plants will have a proven track record of several years of university evaluations and/or observations by industry professionals. Home gardeners and professional horticulturists alike can benefit from using Louisiana Super Plants. Louisiana Super Plants are “university tested and industry approved.” You can see more Louisiana Super Plant information at

Kauai White torenia. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Kauai White torenia. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

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