Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower

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Key information

Plant type

Hardy perennial

Flower colour






Skill level


photo by Richard Bloom, copyright GAP Photos (32687)

Plant details

This species of Lobelia is a stately, upright plant, grown for both its purple-tinged foliage, most pronounced in the variety 'Queen Victoria' which has bold reddish-purple leaves, and brilliant red flowers, each 2.5cm (1in) across. These form tall spikes at the top of the plants from late summer into autumn. Although the plant itself is quite unlike bedding lobelia in appearance, the individual flowers have a similar shape, but are much bigger. This plant is rather short-lived, with plants usually lasting about three years. These may be propagated by division, cuttings or seed in spring. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Family: Campanulaceae

Genus: Lobelia

Species: cardinalis

Plant type: Hardy perennial

Flower colour: Red

Foliage colour: Bronze

Feature: Flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade

Soil: Clay/heavy, Moist, Boggy

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 90cm

Spread: 30cm

Time to plant seeds: March to May

Time to divide plants: February to April

Flowering period: June to August

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