The blue spires of Cardinal flowers, Lobelia syphilitica first caught my attention last summer in the Lost Horizons Nursery display gardens.
In the past, I have always shied away from this family of plants because I know they like moist soil and my garden was usually dry, especially in late summer.
But when I saw them franking the pathways in the display garden, I began to wonder if I had been too hasty to dismiss the possibility of growing them in my own garden.
Despite the drought we had in the later part of the summer, these plants didn't seem to be too stressed. Nor did they look to have been pampered great quantities of water from a hose.
I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe I might be able to get away with growing them myself.
When I decided to investigate further I was surprised to learn that these beautiful Cardinal Flowers, Lobelia syphilitica were actually native plants.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the better known native, Lobelia cadinalis, which has bright red flowers and can be found growing in marshes, along the banks of streams and in wet, wooded areas. The name 'Cardinal Flower' alludes to the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. Lobelia cadinalis is not a long-lived perennial, but it will self-seed wherever it is happy growing. In a home garden, this native makes a great companions for ferns.
Since insects find it difficult to negotiate its long tubular flowers, Cardinal Flowers depend on butterflies and hummingbirds, which feed on their nectar, for pollination.
While at the nursery a few other cultivars caught my attention as well. If you have the requisite moist soil and sun/part shade this Lobelia 'Misty Morn' might be a nice option to consider. Height: 65 cm Spread: 35 cm
Also at Lost Horizons was Lobelia x speciosa 'Fan Schadlach'.
'Fan Schadlach' has amazing bronze foliage, and as a hybrid, it is apparently more forgiving of site and moisture conditions than the red flowering native Lobelia cardinalis.
Like most gardeners, I have a limited budget for new plants. It is always tough call: do you only invest in plants that suit your conditions perfectly, or on occasion, do experiment with plants that require growing conditions other than the ones found in your garden?
Generally, I err on the side of caution and only choose plants that I feel confident will be happy where I place them.
In this case, I was so taken with the blue flowers I decided to throw caution to the wind and give the blue Cardinal Flower, Lobelia syphilitica a try.
Money well spent or ten dollars wasted? Time will tell.
What about you? Do always stick with plants perfectly suited to your growing conditions or do you ever push the envelope?
Have a wonderful weekend gardening!
My garden alphabet so far: 'A' is for Astilbe, 'B' is for Butterfly, Three 'C's, 'D' is for Delphinium, The Letters 'E' and 'F' , 'G' is for Geranium , 'H' is for Hollyhocks, 'I' is for Iris , 'J' is for Jacob's Ladder, I am skipping K for now because I am stumped for a 'K' and now 'L' is for Lobelia.