Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower

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Deer ResistantRain GardenPart ShadeBird Friendly
Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Brilliant red spikes set against green and purple-bronze colored foliage. Each individual spike of scarlet flowers opens from bottom to top and stays in bloom for several weeks. Hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies love the nectar. Since most insects find it difficult to navigate the long tubular flowers, Cardinal Flower depends on hummingbirds, which feed on the nectar, for pollination.


  • Tremendous nectar source for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies
  • Electric red flowers, bloom for several weeks in summer
  • Excellent cut flower
  • Grows easily in wet soil
  • Plant in sun to moderate shade

Native Range

Wet meadows and stream banks; New Brunswick to Minnesota south to Texas and Florida.

Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)

  • Lobelia cardinalis commonly called cardinal flower is one of the best native perennials for supporting native insect and bird life. The bright red flowers bloom throughout the summer on tall spikes that attract loads of nectar-seeking butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • The roots of the cardinal flower were part of a Native American love potion and powder made from the entire plant was used as magic dust to dispel storms.
  • Lobelias are not true perennials because the flowering stem and its associated roots die after setting seed. However, new offsets grow from the axils of the lowermost leaves and quickly put down their abundant white roots. May self-seed in optimum conditions.


Grow in average to moist soil in full sun to part shade. Grows best in wet, moist organically rich soil in shady areas. Mulch to keep the soil moist.

Mature Size: 24-48" Tall x 18-24" Wide

Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Coming Soon!

    American Beauties Offer Solution Based Plant Collections to Help you Choose

    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

    Our Plant Tags Hold the Secrets to Success

    Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice. 

    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


    Best Plants for Bees - Double sided printout for download

    Best Plants for Butterflies - Double sided printout for download

    Best Plants for Birds - Double sided printout for download

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