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Native Plant of the Week: Cardinal Flower

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Family: Campanulaceae

Name: Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower

Bloom Time: July - August

Flower: Scarlet Red

Soil Condition: moist to wet, rich

Light: Sun, Partial Sun, Shade

Height: 24-48" tall by

Native Range: North America including Long Island

Zone: 3 to 9

Lobelia cardinalis is a short-lived perennial that makes a lovely addition to the partially shaded garden by giving a pop of red, which is an unusual color for wildflowers. After a stem flowers, that part of the plant dies and a new shoot is formed for next year. This is what makes it so easy to propagate it by stem, root and leaf cuttings or seed. The new crown is evergreen. Self sows readily in the garden. It depends on hummingbirds and Swallowtail butterflies for pollination. Other than that, it's not a big contributor to wildlife as the seeds are too small for critters to collect and are usually blown away by the wind. All parts of the plant are toxic (if eaten in large quantities) to humans and critters but this doesn't stop a young bunny or deer from sometimes tasting it. Great in a planter and makes a great cut flower.

Maintenance: do not let soil dry out as it does not tolerate any drought, benefits from mulch in the winter - just do not cover the crown of the plant, height can be controlled by cutting the plant back when it reaches 12-18" tall

Benefits: Nectar source and needs hummingbirds for pollinating, deer and rabbit resistant, juglone tolerant (Black Walnut)

Companion Plants: Clethra alnifolia - Sweet Pepperbush, Verbena hastata -Blue Vervain, Mimulus ringens- Monkey Flower, Chelone glabra - Turtlehead, Hibiscus moscheutos - Marsh Mallow

pics: KMS Native Plants LLC




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