I received this ‘Aphrodite’ sweetshrub as a tiny plant from Proven Winners a few years ago at a Garden Writers (GWA) meeting and this is its first flower! The bloom, very similar to ‘Hartlage Wine’, has a lightly sweet fragrance similar to honeydew melon. Don’t you just love it? I do!
Each spring, because of my job as a garden writer, I receive plant selections from various sources to test in my garden. Then, as the growing season draws to a close, I’m asked to evaluate their performance. Since I’m currently engaged in this review, I thought it an apt time to tell you a little about my favorite 2013 trial selection–a Torenia hybrid named ‘Grape-O-Licious’ from Proven Winners’ Catalina series.
I grew ‘Grape-O-Licious’ in a pot on my front stoop where it gets a little more than an hour of sunshine in the middle of the day. I paired it with lemon cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’), a variegated Japanese sedge, and another outstanding PW plant, Dolce ‘Blackberry Ice’ Heuchera.
Why is ‘Grape-O-Licious’ my favorite? Because of its superior performance, especially its prolific bloom in a shady location, and for the beauty and charm of its eye-catching purple and white flowers.
Commonly called wishbone flower because of the distinctive shape of its stamens, torenia is native to tropical Asia. The species, Torenia fournieri, compact and bushy with flowers that resemble miniature gloxinias (or some say snapdragons), blooms from summer into fall. But hot weather is its Achilles’ heel.
Luckily, heat-tolerant hybrids like the ones from Proven Winners do well in South Carolina’s climate. In fact, the Catalina collection has been distinguished in numerous plant trials throughout the South, including those at the University of Georgia and the University of Florida, as well as the Dallas Arboretum.
Grape-O-Licious is the newest addition to the series. Its coloring, white blooms with dark purple throats and just a hint of yellow on its lip, is unique. The plant grows 10 to 12-inches tall and spreads 14 to 24-inches wide where conditions are ideal.
Grow Torenia hybrids in shade or part shade in the landscape or in containers, providing enriched soil and regular (or slightly more) moisture. For best results, fertilize regularly. Deadheading, however, is not required. The plant attracts humming birds as well as more typical pollinators.