Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cardinal Flower

A red wildflower to go with a red house:

Cardinal flower
This year I've planted several Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) in the Red House Garden, and they are thriving in a very wet low spot that I have.

These native wildflowers grow naturally near ponds and stream beds - they like moisture.  Down here in the South, they also appreciate some shade, though they can take more sun farther north.

This flower grows from 2 to 4 feet tall, and the blooms last quite a long time, slowly unfurling their plume of many scarlet-colored, tubular flowers.

They usually just have one long terminal spike at the end, but I seem to also have an odd branching one.

Another beautiful thing about Cardinal flowers  - they are pollinated by and attract hummingbirds.

peering through my window at a Hummingbird and Cardinal Flower
I honestly haven't seen very many hummingbirds near my Cardinal flowers, though, and it took me a few days to figure out why.  I finally realized that all the hummingbirds were swarming around one of the previous wildflowers I have blogged about (and thought was a weed at first) - my wild Monarda.  I guess we now know which one is wins the hummingbird taste-test!

Hummingbird and Monarda
I do think that the Cardinal flower wins in the looks department, though!

To learn more about our native wildflowers from other garden bloggers, visit Wildflower Wednesday over at the site Clay and Limestone!


  1. Cardinal flower is SO pretty! We just rarely have spots with enough water to keep it healthy.

  2. That is one exciting shade of red! I'm picturing a blouse in that color... And it's so funny that the Hummingbirds prefer the Monarda.

  3. Very interesting red flower, love the hummer! LT

  4. I've never seen red lobelia, I thought it is small white or blue plant only.

  5. They are beautiful Indie. I love the red. I planted two small one this spring but I do not know whether they will bloom this summer.The Humming birds love your Red ones.

  6. This is an interesting flower. I don't have any in my garden. Nice capture of the hummer.

  7. I do agree--the cardinal flower wins the beauty contest, hands down! This is such a pretty flower; I wish I had a shady wet spot to grow them, but this summer there isn't a damp spot anywhere to be found. Fantastic photos, especially the hummers!

  8. Neat! I'm planning to get a Monarda for my garden -- hoping to attract more bees to boost the harvest. But a hummingbird would be a welcome surprise, too!

  9. Monarda is a champ at attracting the hummingbirds. I grow it just for them. Your photo of the hummer is beautiful.

  10. I haven't succeeded yet with the Lobelia but hummers like to visit my Scarlet Runner bean flowers. Lovely photos!

  11. What a beautiful shade of red! This summer's drought has made even damp areas dry, I'm afriad. It might be a bit tricky to grow this in my yard. But …..gardener's love a challenge:)

  12. I just love Lobelia cardinalis, I have tried them twice in my garden, in two different spots. They did well the first year both times, but didn't come up next year. They are supposed to be perennials so I don't know what happened, gave up after two attempts, but maybe I will try again. Loved your photos, beautiful.

  13. Applause, applause...wonderful photos and the hummer was a treat! gail

  14. Please tell us more about your winter sowing of cardinal flower. Can you tell us or show us what the new seedlings look like? A cool post about winter sowing cardinal flower would be refreshing about now!

    1. I have written a post about wintersowing here:
      I have wintersowed all sorts of plants over the past few years, and it really is much easier for those perennials that need a lot of cold moist stratification like cardinal flower. (Usually about 75 to 80% of the perennials I plant by wintersowing come up for me.) It's really nice to be able to have something gardening related to do in winter, too. Often I start my wintersowing after there is snow on the ground (here in my garden in Massachusetts). Hope that helps with propagating your cardinal flowers!


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