Native Plants Series: Cardinalflower


Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis) is native to most of the United States. It prefers moist soils in part to full sun conditions - perfect for streamside or woodand edge applications. Brilliant red flowers (occaisonally white or pink) bloom in the summer on 2-4' spikes, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. Although it is a perennial, it is a short-lived one. Cardinalflower is a prolific self-seeder and may show up in unexpected places in your garden. The seeds do appreciate some soil disturbance to germinate -- if you want yours to keep growing in the same location, disturb the soil a bit after the seeds have dropped. Here in South Central PA, six butterfly and moth caterpillars use Lobelia as a host plant. Just as a reminder - this means 6 species use this plant as a place to lay their eggs and for their larvae to eat the leaves. Hundreds more species can use cardinalflower's nectar for food. 📸: @ladynaturenerd - Amy Mawby, 8/9/20, Pleasant Lake, NY Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, National Wildlife Foundation, USDA Native Plants Database

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