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How to Grow and Care for Cardinal Flowers

Lobelia cardinalis

This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsHummingbird PlantButterfly FlowerRed flowering plantPink flowering plantblue flowering plantA photograph of Lobelia cardinalis is availableHow to Use the Plant Care Icons at The Garden Helper
The intensely brightly colored flower spikes of the Cardinal Flower serve as a beacon to the hummingbirds and butterflies who dine on the flower's nectar. The plant itself also acts as a host for some species of butterfly larvae.

Growing Requirements for Cardinal Flowers

Cardinal Flowers can be found growing naturally in marsh areas and along wooded stream banks in almost every state except in the Northwest.
The plant forms two foot clumps which produce many 2-3 foot, long lasting flower spikes in late summer.
Cardinal Flowers are easy to grow and care for, but unfortunately are rather short lived and will need to be replaced every 3-4 years.
They are hardy in USDA zones 3-9.
In most areas, Lobelia should be planted in full sun but in hot climates they will require partial shade.
The soil must be kept moist or wet at all times.
In colder climates, provide a good covering of mulch for winter.
Angus the Garden Gnome
Once established and actively growing, Cardinal Flowers should be fed monthly with a good all-purpose fertilizer.

Propagating Cardinal Flower Plants

Cardinal Flowers can be grown from seeds which should be planted in the garden in the fall.
They can also be propagated by division of the plant in early Spring,
or with softwood cuttings taken at mid-Summer.
NOTE: For Spring planting or starting indoors, the seeds of Lobelia cardinalis require a three month period of cold-moist stratification in the refrigerator prior to sowing.
After chilling, maintain a temperature of 70° within the growing medium.
Germination takes 15-20 days
Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis
Hot Pink Cardinal Flowers in Bloom at Hummingbird House The intensely red flowers of a Cardinal Flower, Lobelia Cardinalis Bright Red Cardinal Flowers will attract Hummingbirds from miles around

A Forum discussion about Cardinal Flower Plants

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