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

Lobelia cardinalis

cardinal flower or syn: Rapuntium cardinale, Dortmanna cardinalis

Clump-forming habit with brilliant red flower 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!

SIZE
Lobelia cardinalis LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
Lobelia cardinalis - 72 per flat Availability
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Height

2-4 Feet

Spread

2 Feet

Spacing

12-18 Inches

Bloom Color

Red

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

cardinal flower Interesting Notes

Another perennial to add color to the shaded and wet garden, Lobelia cardinalis, or cardinal flower, has a clump-forming habit with brilliant red flower 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 and is a favorite for hummingbirds. The red intensity is much like Spigelia marilandica and is a must-have for gardeners wishing to attract hummingbirds to their yards. Plants can range anywhere from 1’-6’ tall, depending on site conditions, but mostly stay around 2’-4’.

Found throughout the Americas, cardinal flower occurs and in other locations with rich soil that is acidic to neutral and in filtered shade to full sun. While not a true perennial, Lobelia cardinalis propagates itself by offsets from axils at the basal foliage which form their own roots. When placed in a suitable site, cardinal flower will happily self-sow from seed.

Cardinal flower performs best with consistent moisture – in areas where drier conditions may occur, mulching is encouraged. It is a lovely plant to be used en masse in a border or in a wildlife, hummingbird, butterfly or water garden. This plant supports ruby-throated hummingbirds, swallowtail butterflies, and bumblebees that are able to pierce the corollas for nectar.

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 or a wild, hummingbird, butterfly or water garden. Also adds color to woodland gardens.

Good Substitutions

cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis 'Black Truffle'
great blue lobelia Lobelia siphilitica

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Moist
Moist
Pollinator-friendly
Pollinator-friendly
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Hummingbird-friendly
Hummingbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Cut Flower
Cut Flower
Summer
Summer

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Wet
Average
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Meadow/Prairie
Woodland
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Wetland (FACW)
Plug Type
Horticultural Plug
Landscape Plug™
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Attributes
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated