Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
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Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower

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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!

Height:  2-4 feet 

Spacing 12-18 inches

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.