Lobelia – Cardinal Red (Lobelia cardinallis) Cardinal Flower Lobelia Bellflower Herb

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Lobelia – Cardinal Red (Lobelia cardinallis) Cardinal Flower Lobelia Bellflower Herb


Height: 2 to 5 ft

Lobelia cardinalis, the cardinal flower, is a species of flowering plant in the bellflower family Campanulaceae is a native plant of North, South, and Central America, and is typically found in moist areas such as streams, swamps, and low wooded areas.

This variety of native species has scarlet red flowers, and are all excellent landscape plants for garden areas with moist soil. Lobelia is a clump-forming perennial with lance-shaped dark green leaves that form basal clumps and tall flower stalks that hold clusters of tubular flowers from July into early fall.  It is a fairly fast-growing plant that usually flowers in its first year. Individual plants are short-lived, but cardinal flower perpetuates itself constantly by self-seeding and sending out offshoots that quickly colonize an area.

Perfect for late summer gardens; flowers have large fan shaped lower lips, characteristic of all lobelias, and are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. Lobelia will re-seed quite exuberantly when it's happy. Blooms late summer to mid fall.  As is true of other species in the Lobelia genus, cardinal flower is seriously toxic to humans and to pets; it contains several toxic alkaloid compounds, including lobelamine and loeline, which can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from digestive upset to convulsions and even death. 

Lobelia is used for breathing problems including asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and shortness of breath. Some use as sedative and to increase sweating!

    • Full Sun to part shade.
    • Sand to clay soil
    • Plant for an area that receives regular moisture (even flooding) and part shade
    • Direct sow the tiny, dust-like seeds on the surface of moist soil, and do not transplant outside until night time temperatures are well above 10°C (50°F). Water from below or fine mist.
    • OR start seeds indoors: requires cold stratification. Fill a container with moistened potting mix, sow the seeds on top of the mix, (need light to germinate), water with a spray bottle, cover the container and place in the fridge. Do not allow the seeds to dry out. Remove from
  • fridge in later winter and place in warm spot inside under lights. Place the pots in a bright location at about 70 F; keep the soil moist as the seedlings sprout and develop. Move the pots into direct sunlight to continue growing. When the seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, pot them up into a larger container filled with potting soil. After the risk of frost has passed, harden seedlings off gradually over 10 days. Once hardened off, plant in the garden.
  • Harvest: self seeds easily: leave the seed pods on the plant and allow them to fall naturally. Then collect the seeds, sow immediately in the garden,or store in the fridge and plant out in the spring.
  • Attracts various bees and butterflies.
  • Seed Count: 35