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, blooms for several weeks in summer
Excellent cut flower
Grows easily in wet soil
Plant in sun to moderate shade
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)
The roots of cardinal flower were part of a Native American love potion. Powder made from the entire plant was used as a 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 own 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 soil moist.