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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.

Benefits

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.



Height
24-48 Inches

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Spread
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)

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
Medium to Tall Perennials
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Sun
Soil
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Moist
Attracts Wildlife
Amphibians
Butterflies
Hummingbirds
Bloom Time
Late Spring / Early Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Wet Sun
Native Habitat
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Green
Purple
Red
Uses
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