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Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower

Clump forming brilliant red spikes set against green and purple bronze colored foliage. Each individual spike of scarlet flowers open from bottom to top and stays in bloom for several weeks. A favorite of hummingbirds. Makes an excellent cut flower. A real show stopper!

Lobelia cardinalis LP50 - 50 per flat $54.00
Lobelia cardinalis - 72 per flat $48.24
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2-4 Feet


2 Feet


12 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

Cardinal flower Interesting Notes

Cardinal flower is a sure bet for gardeners anxious to have hummingbirds visit their gardens. Set against deep green foliage, pure red flowers appear on 2’ long spikes atop 3-4’ tall plants providing a spectacular garden display in the heat of summer. Cardinal flower flourishes in acidic to neutral, well drained soils in filtered shade to sun. Stream banks, water’s edge, meadow margins, and garden soils less prone to drought stress are excellent sites to grow this adorable herbaceous perennial. Lobelia cardinalis grows well with Lobelia siphiliticaAsclepias incarnataGentiana clausaMonarda fistulosaRhexia virginicaSpiranthes odorata 'Chadds Ford', and Zephyranthes atamasca. - Mt. Cuba Center

It is hard to describe the intensity of a Cardinal Flower in bloom. It is as if the flowers catch sunlight inside some sort of crystal matrix and let it bounce around for awhile until it has been stripped of all but the deepest, purest red imaginable. Then and only then is the light released to burn crimson red into our corneas. I will never forget the first time I found one in the wild, just a single plant growing in a low area behind my house. I stood there stunned for about five minutes trying to fathom how such a magical thing had come there. I know now that the seed had probably been lying in the soil, dormant for years before being kicked up into the light by some worm or squirrel ( or maybe a curious child's foot?).

Lobelias are not true perennials, because the flowering stem and its associated roots die after setting seed. They are perennial in effect only because new offsets grow from the axils of the lowermost leaves and quickly put down their own abundant white roots. It is especially important, then, that these new offsets be coddled a little in the fall. William Cullina, Growing and Propagating Wildflowers

Lore: The root was part of a Native American love potion and the powder of the entire plant may have been used as sort of a magic power to dispel storms and was used in ceremonies.

Lobelia cardinalis Growing and Maintenance Tips

Needs constant moisture so mulching would be quite beneficial. Propagate by seed or cuttings. May self seed. Best used in a border, wild, hummingbird, butterfly and water garden. Also to add color to woodland gardens.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Cut Flower
Cut Flower
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Additional Information

Growth Rate
Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Propagation Type
Open pollinated
Wildflower Garden
Stream Edge
Moist Shade
Erosion Control
Native to North America