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Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal Flower /

Brilliant red spikes set against green and purple-bronze colored foliage. Each individual spike of scarlet flowers opens from bottom to top and stays in bloom for several weeks. Hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies love the nectar. Since most insects find it difficult to navigate the long tubular flowers, Cardinal Flower depends on hummingbirds, which feed on the nectar, for pollination.


  • Tremendous nectar source for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies
  • Electric red flowers, blooms for several weeks in summer
  • Excellent cut flower
  • Grows easily in wet soil
  • Plant in sun to moderate shade

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in average to moist soil in full sun to part shade. Grows best in wet, moist organically rich soil in shady areas. Mulch to keep soil moist.

24-48 Inches


18-24 Inches

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

Native Range

Wet meadows and stream banks; New Brunswick to Minnesota south to Texas and Florida.

Native Trivia

The roots of cardinal flower were part of a Native American love potion. Powder made from the entire plant was used as a magic dust to dispel storms.

Lobelias are not true perennials because the flowering stem and its associated roots die after setting seed. However, new offsets grow from the axils of the lowermost leaves and quickly put down their own abundant white roots. May self-seed in optimum conditions.

"These red flowers entice my flying friends to visit my neighborhood in their search for nectar."

Good Companions
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa), Hummingbird Summer Sweet (Clethra alnifolia), Ruby Spice Summer Sweet (Clethra alnifolia), Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii)

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Perennials
  • Filtered Shade
  • Sun
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Moist
Attracts Wildlife
  • Amphibians
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
Bloom Time
  • Late Spring / Early Summer
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
  • Wet Sun
Native Habitat
  • Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Bog, water garden
  • Cut or dried flower
  • Mass plant
  • Meadow
  • Naturalizes
Native to
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin