Autumn Flowers, Summer Flowers

The Cardinal Flower – Lobelia Cardinalis Growing Tips

Lobelia Cardinalis or water gladiole is a bright colored summer flower. It is a very popular plant among gardeners and it performs very well in most gardens.

How Does the Cardinal Flower Look Like?

This perennial plant produces erect spikes of brilliant, large, red flowers. It has laced dark leaves which assure a deep contrast between the plant and flowers. It blooms from midsummer to the end of September.

For landscaping, it is used to add verticality to plant arrangements. It is a medium size plant, growing about 4 feet tall and has a spread of about 2 feet. Lobelia Cardinalis can be used to create rows of deep colored flowers near fences or behind other types of smaller plants like Zinnia Magellan.

Growing Lobelia Cardinalis

Lobelia needs wet soils that are rich in nutrients. It can live in partial shade or full sunshine. The best results are obtained when the plant has a bit of shade in the afternoon when the sun is strong.

This plant is perfect if you have soil that is poorly drained. Compared to other blooms it does not mind a lot of water. It will not develop any pest associated to damp soils.

It can be planted in hardiness zones 2 to 9 according to USDA. Those residing in zone 2 could find it difficult to grow. The cardinal flower is not very adapted to zone 2, so do not be surprised if you are not successful in growing it.

Lobelia is a magnet for butterflies and bees. It attracts hummingbirds if you reside in an area populated with these birds. Cardinalis is deer and rabbit resistant making it perfect for remote ranches where wildlife is present.

Planting and Caring Lobelia Cardinalis

Planting is easy. You will need to prepare the soil with a shovel and make a small row. In the row place the seeds, cover them with soil and water them. Seeds are readily available at stores across the USA.

The plant can multiply by self-seeding or division. Also, cuttings can be used to spread the plant. Make stem cuttings in midsummer and replant them.

Lobelia Cardinalis Bush
Lobelia Cardinalis Bush

In order to maintain a nice look, it is recommended to deadhead the plant. Remove the dead flowers in order to encourage the plant to produce new blooms.
In order to control the plants height, you can pinch back the tall stems. This will lead to a bushier look with more compact flowers.

In autumn you should not cut the plants, leave them to spread their seeds in order to ensure new blooms the next year. Mulch lightly and make sure that over winter the soil is not drenched in water. This can harm the plant.

Make sure that kids do not ingest leaves or flowers. The plant is slightly toxic and ingestion can lead to discomfort or to serious stomach problems.

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