Cardinal Flower
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.
Botanical Name: Lobelia cardinalis
Nom Français: Lobélie cardinale


Bloom colour: Red
Blooms: Summer - Zone 5
Pollinators: Butterflies | Hummingbird
Sun or Shade: Full Sun | Shade
Plant Type: Perennial
Height: Up to 3 feet (1 meter)
New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec
It grows well in hardiness zones: 1a-8a

The Cardinal flower has showy red flowers that bloom from May to October. It depends on hummingbirds to feed on the nectar as most insects find it difficult to navigate its long flower petals.


Stream and pond edges, meadows, ditches, ravines, prairies, plains
Water requirement: Needs constant moisture.
Humid Soil
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.


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.
3-6 feet.
While aphids are the most common pest, leafhoppers, slugs, snails and spider mites can also inhabit the plant.


Spread: 30 cm
May self-seed. It can be propogated by beding a stem down into the mud and fastening it with rocks or sticks.


It attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers are excellent for cutting.
Native to Canada
This plant contains lobeline, which caused poisoning when misused as a home medicine.

Styling and Use

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.
Swamp milkweed, Bristly buttercup, Wild Iris, Swamp rose.


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.


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. is supported by its readers and advertisers. If you purchase through a link on this site, the site may earn a commission.

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