Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
Native to Virginia’s Coastal Plain region, Cardinal Flower is a short-lived herbaceous perennial that self-sows. With bold red blooms occurring from July through October, the common name of this plant alludes to the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. It grows best in moist to wet (not drought tolerant), humus-rich, sandy or clay soils. It’s not picky about the amount of sun it receives, however it does appreciate some shade in the hot afternoon sun. Cardinal Flower grows up to 5 feet tall and is a good plant for back of the border (as long as the soil is kept uniformly moist) in a native or pollinator garden. It also does very well in a rain garden.
Valued for its ornamental blooms and color, this plant attracts birds and butterflies. It depends hummingbirds which feed on its nectar for pollination.
It should be noted that this plant has a Medium poison severity level, toxic only if large quantities are eaten.
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