Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobélie cardinale

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a native herb that grows along riverbanks and is occasionally found in garden flower beds as a perennial. Cardinal Flower features showy spikes of scarlet flowers rising above the foliage from mid summer to early fall. Its pointy leaves remain dark green in colour throughout the season.

It attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers are excellent for cutting.

The Cardinal flower is named after the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. Roots, finely ground, are said to be an aphrodisiac when placed in food, although this is not recommended.


The Cardinal flower prefers sun or part shade and moist soils. It does not tolerate drought, but it will tolerate heat and cold. They grow best in morning sun and afternoon shade.

Its natural habitat is, Stream and pond edges, meadows, ditches, ravines, prairies, plains.

Where to Plant

The Cardinal flower should be grown in a location that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. It is quite adaptable, preferring to grow in average to wet conditions, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils.

Video on Lobelia cardinalis


Planting Lobelia cardinalis

This plants seeds require a period of cold stratification. Plant new plants in spring, about 1 foot apart, and keep the soil very moist as the seedlings are established. A layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist. May self-seed. It can be propagated by bedding a stem down into the mud and fastening it with rocks or sticks.

Companion plant suggestions include Swamp milkweed, Bristly buttercup, Wild Iris, Swamp rose.

Caring for Cardinal Flower

This plant should be grown in a location that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. It is quite adaptable, prefering to grow in average to wet conditions, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils.

It is happiest in Humid Soil

In terms of water, Cardinal Flower needs Needs constant moisture.

Pruning Lobélie cardinale

In order to get the best plant for flowering, prune the Cardinal plant right after it has finished flowering in early summer. By doing so, you will avoid cutting off flower buds that developed from the previous season and help this perennial grow strong wood for its next blooming cycle.

Other

While aphids are the most common pest, leafhoppers, slugs, snails and spider mites can also inhabit the plant.

This plant contains lobeline, which caused poisoning when misused as a home medicine.

Some Native Americans used the roots in tea for stomach aches, syphillis, typhoid or worms. The leaves were used in tea for colds, nosebleeds, fevers and headaches.