Shade Loving Native Plants of the
United States & Canada

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Cardinal Flower, Lobelia Cardinalis

Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis

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Lobelia cardinalis L.
Cardinal Flower

Native Distribution Map

USDA Symbol: LOCA2

USDA Zones:  2 - 9

Shade tolerance: Shade,

Part Shade

Moisture: Wet - moist

Height: 3’ – 6’

Propagation: seeds, root division, stem cuttings

Fiery red cardinal flowers are sure to enliven any shade garden.  They provide a strong vertical element which can be underplanted with shorter perennials.  These very showy perennials send up spikes of scarlet, crimson and burgundy from May to October.  White and rose colored varieties have also been found.

Cardinal flowers like moist to wet soils, boggy places and wetlands—places most plants would rot.  We have even found them growing in 3’ of water! 

They do well in rain gardens, woodland edges, near the water’s edge of ponds, naturalized under trees and massed in the shade.

Cardinal flowers have a moderate growth rate and are long lived.  Medium textured leaves persist after flowers are gone.

Although they were once seriously endangered, cardinal flowers have made a significant comeback, but are still considered threatened in many places.  Gathering wild plants is prohibited in several states, and discouraged in the rest.

Growth requirements:  Cardinal flowers require adequate moisture, and really do well when wet.  They will grow in almost every type of soil, except the most rocky.  The pH range is 5.8-7.8 (acidic).

Benefits:  Attracts hummingbirds and in sunnier areas, butterflies.  Excellent cut flower.

Care and Maintenance: 

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