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FutureStarrLobelia Cardinalis Varieties
A top performer that is perfect for the late summer garden, Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) is a popular, upright, clump-forming perennial boasting a profusion of flower spikes densely packed with brilliant, cardinal red, two-lipped blossoms, 2 in. long (5 cm), from midsummer to early fall. Borne on erect, alternate-leafed stalks rising above a rosette of lance-shaped, glossy bright green leaves, this architectural plant adds vertical interest to the landscape. Extremely hardy, low care, and fairly pest and disease-free, Cardinal Flower tends to be short-lived, although it may self-seed in ideal growing conditions (without becoming invasive)!
Lobelia cardinalis is related to two other Lobelia species in to the Eastern United States, Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) and Lobelia siphilitica (great lobelia); all display the characteristic "lip" petal near the opening of the flower and the "milky" liquid the plant excretes. L. siphilitica has blue flowers and is primarily pollinated by bees, whereas L. cardinalis is red and is primarily pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is a native American plant that is often used as an ornamental garden plant. This showy species in the bellflower family (Campanulaceae) has a wide distribution, throughout the eastern US (including Wisconsin and Minnesota) and from southeastern Canada through Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia in South America. It is found in moist soils, including wet open woods, streambanks, swamps and marshy areas. It was introduced to Europe in the mid 1620’s where it earned its common name, likely because the bright red flowers – variously described as scarlet, crimson, or vermilion – are the same color as the vestments worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. It is hardy in zones 3-9.
Lobelia cardinalis is easily grown in moist soils in full sun to partial shade. It has few pests and is not favored by deer or rabbits. Flower stalks may need to be staked depending on the exposure to strong winds. It is considered a short-lived perennial, because it will die after blooming, although offsets will continue growing to perpetuate the plant. It can be propagated by division, removing the young plants that develop around the perimeter of established clumps, or can be grown from seed. Plants often reseed on their own, or seed can be sown on the soil surface (they need light to germinate).There do not seem to be any of note. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden website, Lobelia cardinalis is tolerant of rabbits and deer. No serious insects or disease problems impact this plant. Snails and slugs may damage foliage. The snail and slug damage does not seem to be enough of a problem to require intervention. (Source: www.gcc.mass.edu)