Cardinal plant OOR

Cardinal plant OOR

Cardinal plant OOR

Although relatively common, overpicking this handsome wildflower has resulted in its scarcity in some areas. Since most insects find it difficult to navigate the long tubular flowers, Cardinal Flower depends on hummingbirds, which feed on the nectar, for pollination. Its common name alludes to the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. In southern Arizona, Sierra Madre Lobelia (L. laxiflora) is also found; its corolla is red with yellow lobes or all yellow.



Conditions Comments: Cardinal flower has very showy red blooms. It is particularly attractive at the edge of a woodland garden. The soil must be kept moist or wet at all times. A winter mulching in northern climes is beneficial. It can be propagated by bending a stem down into the mud and fastening it with a rock or sticks. 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.

The bright red flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds and are enormously attractive to these birds. Butterflies and bees will also visit the flowers. It is also good for cut flowers but the stems do have a milky sap. The flowers are followed by capsules containing numerous small seeds. Under the right conditions cardinal flower will readily self seed. Use cardinal flower in borders, rain gardens, and native gardens, especially on the edges of streams or ponds. They will naturalize in moist meadows and can be grown in a shallow water garden or in containers. The deep pure red flowers may be difficult to combine with other reds but it mixes well with many other moisture-loving plants that bloom in other colors. (Source: hort.extension.wisc.edu)


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