Sun exposure:
Full sun, partial shade
East facing, south facing, west facing
Position in border:


Clay / Heavy / Moist

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) is a brilliantly colourful and showy damp-loving perennial that blooms throughout summer and into autumn, brightening the garden at a time when many other plants are finishing for the year. This hardy perennial must have moisture in order to thrive, either in good moisture-retentive soil, a bog garden or even in shallow water at the edge of a pond. Lobelia cardinalis is handsome in both flower and foliage, bearing many brilliant scarlet-red flowers up to 5cm long. The blooms are borne on stems up to 1m tall that rise vertically from a basal rosette of foliage. The leaves are long and slender, bright green tinged with bronze, or purple in the case of named varieties such as ‘Bee’s Flame’ and ‘Queen Victoria’.

Lobelia cardinalis is an herbaceous perennial, dying back to the ground in autumn and regrowing in spring. However, it tends to be short-lived, although dividing the plant every two to three years can extend its life. To do this, dig up the clump in spring, divide into two or more good-sized pieces each with plenty of roots and shoot buds, and replant. Lobelia cardinalis is moderately hardy – in cold areas, protect with a mulch of straw or chipped bark over winter.

Once established, Lobelia cardinalis is trouble free to grow so long as the soil is adequately moist.

Lobelia cardinalis is toxic if consumed. Wear gloves to avoid contact and wash hands well after handling.

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Advice on buying Lobelia cardinalis

  • Lobelia cardinalis needs moist soil to thrive. Ensure you have the right growing requirements before buying
  • You may find a Lobelia cardinalis at your local garden centre but you'll find more choice online
  • Always check plants for signs of disease or damage before buying

Where to buy Lobelia cardinalis

Plant calendar

Take cuttingsyes
Cut backyes

Lobelia and wildlife

Lobelia is known for attracting bees.

Is known to attract Bees
Is not known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Lobelia poisonous?

Lobelia causes an upset stomach.

Toxic to:
Is known to attract People
No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock