Hardiness: USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 °C (-50 °F) USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 °C (-45 °F) USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F) USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F) USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F) USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F) USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F) USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F) USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F) USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Danger: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
On Sep 4, 2012, Bazuhi from Downers Grove, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:
I wanted something for the hummingbirds so I ordered 4 plants from Forest Farm nursery a mail order catalog based on the reviews on this site..They say this plant is okay with zone 5 and will reseed easily. The plants arrived on August 30th and they look great..They are about 6-12 inches high and a single stem with new growth on the bottom. (I will have photos in my journal and will be included in my review of ForestFarms) I let them settle and acclimate then planted them on Sept 4th in an area that appears to remain damp at the end of a septic line. I am really hoping this is enough moisture for them to go wild with with additional water from me of course. Other plants have not done as well in this area due to the dampness so maybe I found the one that will flourish. I will post again thier status as the growing season comes to an end and update if they come back or not next year. (I will update photos in my journal about this plant as I also like to see how it grows.)
On Aug 13, 2012, amallen from Johns Island, SC wrote:
We have a few wild cardinal flowers that grow near a saltwater marsh in partial shade. They don't compete well with the other plants even though I see them occasionally in other wooded areas on the island.
I planted several giant lobelia and cardinal plants this past Spring. We had a very mild winter here on the SC coast so the deer shouldn't have been hungry. However, they nailed all the ones planted in the sun, literally tore them out of the ground and those in the shade have been eaten to the ground twice.
I see these growing wild here in the area, I have observed that these plants like moisture and can handle some shade, I almost always see them growing on the creek bank. Something to consider when planting.
On Apr 25, 2011, snowmanmaker from Osseo, MN wrote:
I love this flower and have tried to grow it from smaller than gallon size with no luck. I have great luck with lobelia speciosa fan deep rose in gallon pots, so will try this from gallon pots this year. I'd say in my zone 4 garden they are less happy in partial shade than they are in part sun. Could have been too dry in one part shade spot also. If you need a gorgeous red, this is it--crossing my fingers!
On Feb 21, 2011, alabamawoman from Huntsville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:
I would like to add this plant to my shade garden area. Do you know if it will tolerate growing with a Black Walnut tree nearby? I have ferns, hostas, primroses, and heucheara (sp?) that grow well in that spot. Anyone with experience on this?
I like this plant, but....when I planted the plants they were brilliant red blossoms. This year (the 2nd or 3rd year) the 2 plants are now a deep, dark intense purple. Is there something that would cause the color change? I have not been able to locate any information about this plant changing it's color. They are still very beautiful, just not the brilliant red they were when I planted them.
On Jul 16, 2010, Clary from Lewisburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
This plant is the superstar of my perennial garden.
The color is a brilliant true red that is very attractive to hummingbirds. Like another poster noted, the hummingbirds do guard and compete for this flower.
As another member also noted, the color is extremely vivid and will not compliment some other red flowers. My reds are limited to Crocosmia 'lucifer' and shrub roses for this reason.
This plant grows to about 5-6' tall in my garden. It is planted behind a birdbath in rich soil where the roots are in constant moisture and consistent shade. The flower stalks are in full sun.
I started with 3 mail order plugs a few years ago and now have a scattered clump about 2' square that has over a dozen flower stalks.
The large plants make "babies" at their base and spread in this manner. Also, flower stalk cuttings can root by cutting off a few of the flowering stalks low enough to include about 8" of leaves, then sticking the stalks deep into consistently wet soil. The plants also reseed reliably.
This plant is very sensitive to having it roots disturbed. I have had no luck transplanting even the smallest seedlings, and when I removed a nearby plant midsummer, the cardinal flower beside it died.
On May 1, 2010, SalviaFanatic5 from Dover, DE wrote:
I wish this short-lived perennial didn't dissolve right before my eyes. It was hard to see that I bought such a nice looking plant in hopes it would continue on in my garden. It feathered out in the middle of some daylillies. I left it alone. It didn't like to be watered a lot so I watered once a week. It didn't survive. I hope this helps for those who live in my area.
On Dec 12, 2009, HummingbirdDude from Whitehall, PA wrote:
I have seen this plant growing wild along the river north of my house. I plan on purchasing some in the spring to add to my hummingbird/butterfly garden. I am going to try planting it in a container to make a boggy kind of habitat for it, since this plant likes wet conditions.
On Nov 29, 2009, bgp1 from Tecumseh, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:
An interesting plant that is a maroon color with bright red flowers and an upright growing habit. Hummingbirds really like eating from the flowers. Here in Michigan these are considered a wildflower, however, for some reason they seem to act as an annual and only live for one growing season. Sometimes these become top-heavy and require staking and tying.
On Sep 29, 2008, beverly710 from Newalla, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
All of mine came up as surprises...I have no clue where they came from. They self sow profusely. I have harvested the seeds and they have never let me down...and grow just about anywhere I have spread the seeds. The hummingbirds flock to them and seem to stake them out as part of their territory, so they are a wonderful asset to any garden.
On Sep 22, 2008, heavenlybamboo from Centerville, MO wrote:
I have successfully rooted cuttings of this plant under a glass jar in a pot of miracle grow on my shady front porch. I have the red-violet or magenta colored form of the wildflower. It is not a hybrid.
On Jul 31, 2008, Cyprepedium from Palmer, MA wrote:
For decades I admired Lobelia cardinalis when I would encounter it in Massachusetts wetlands. I also found it when I lived in the Midwest and in Texas. Now that I am back in New England and have my own garden, I decided to try to grow this beautiful wildflower.
I purchased a plant in May 2008 from a reputable area nursery. It had three stalks. I planted it in a sunny location, and gave it plenty of water. As time went by, more stalks sprouted. I then bought four more plants. These four did not survive, probably because they were planted at a time when we had 90+-degrees weather (the heat was not helpful to the plants already stressed from transplanting). This year (2009), the first plant I had bought last year came back, strong and healthy. The nursery replaced the four plants I had lost last year.
All but one of my plants have flowered beautifully, and hummingbirds have been paying frequent visits!
My plants are now getting ready to make seeds. For this year, I think I'm going to leave the plants alone to see if they self-sow. The intensely pure scarlet red of this flower makes it worth the effort to try to get it to grow in the garden.
Over four years since I first planted my L. cardinalis I've watched them gradually spread. This year, I even found one that took root in a crack in the sidewalk near the garden! I made sure it was protected, and it happily flowered along with its companions.
My L. cardinalis plants get about 4-5 hours of direct sun in the summer. I found that, for my circumstances, I need to "flood" the area where they're planted at least once a day in the hot weather to make sure they stay hydrated. The reward? Several weeks of beautiful flowers on sturdy stalks. While they were in flower, the hummingbirds visited dozens of times each day.
On Aug 16, 2007, dkm65 from Cedar Falls, IA (Zone 4b) wrote:
One of the most intense, deep red flowers. The only drawback is that it will make you realize how your other red flowers aren't as intensely red as you thought in comparison. It is must in a native rain garden, and likes well-drained soil that gets a bit more rain runoff than usual (swales and depressions in your garden). It can tolerate some drought as well, as it is very deep rooted.
As others have said, it is a hummingbird magnet supreme. We have honeysuckle, trumpet vine, columbine, monarda, royal catchfly, etc., but none of our other hummingbird-attracting plants draw them like cardinal flower.
It looks really good interplanted with its sibling great blue lobelia (L. siphilitica) with its blue flowers matching the cardinal flowers in intensity of color, and their similar bloom time.
It is a shorter lived species than siphilitica, but as some have pointed out reseeds readily. Still, in a mature native garden with lots of assertive species, you may need to add a few plants from time to time. You'll probably find yourself adding a few more plants in future years just because you want more of it as time goes by anyway.
On Jun 21, 2007, JasperDale from Long Beach, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
I have had enormous success with this lobelia, which I planted from 4" pots. The first year, they just sort of sat there (like most perennials), but each successive year the plants have done wonderfully, and I have divided them several times. They are extremely easy to grow and only require being consistently moist, and not allowed to dry out.
On Oct 5, 2005, woodspirit1 from Lake Toxaway, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:
The pH requirements listed for this plant are questionable. It grows in the Appalachian Mountains wild, but the soil is very acid. I also see it growing in ditches regularly. I don't think it needs good drainage. It may tolerate soil that is mildly alkaline but my experience is that it likes acid soil.
On Jan 27, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
While I have not yet tried to grow the domesticated version of this plant at my current Zone 7 location, when I lived in a Zone 6 mountain area of Virginia, I had quite a few of the wild plants growing along the marshy edges of a stream that flowed thru a dense woodland area of my property.
The plants were truly lovely & the flowers seemed to "glow" in the dense shade. A really true brilliant red. With all the deer we had there, they never touched these plants, so I assume that this might be a good plant for gardeners with a moist shady area + a deer problem.
On Jan 26, 2005, pokerboy from Canberra Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:
This plant has a beautiful, firey red flower. In cold winter areas much to protect from frost heaving. In the warmer winter areas winter mulch may rot the crowns. This plant selfsows prolifically. pokerboy.
On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:
The Lobelia species contains alkaloid lobeline which is poisonous in large doses but in small quantities is used in a number of medicinal preparations used quit smoking, revive persons from drug overdoses or as a psychoactive drug.
An interesting historical account relates that cardinal flower and lobelia, in sites in Nebraska were found in close association to historic Pawnee villages, suggesting the Pawnee introduced and cultivated it. Another source relates that Cherokee medicine men cultivated it for medicinal purposes.
I found these plants flowering near the bank of the lake where I live. I am watching carefully for ripe seeds for my garden. The flowers are absolutely beautiful and blooming when my late season garden could use a big shot of dazzaling color like this.
Has lance shaped, mid to bronzy green, shiny, toothed leaves borne on reddish or green fleshy stems. Bears 2-lipped, bright red flowers on tall flower spikes.
Flowers July - September
Loves a moist but well drained soil in sun or light shade. Make sure the soil never dries out for too long.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, Auburn, Alabama Decatur, Alabama Houston, Alabama Barling, Arkansas East Shore, California Knights Landing, California Long Beach, California Hamden, Connecticut Cheval, Florida Keystone Heights, Florida New Port Richey, Florida Oldsmar, Florida Sunrise, Florida Trenton, Florida Cordele, Georgia Cornelia, Georgia Dallas, Georgia Midway-hardwick, Georgia Algonquin, Illinois Crestwood, Illinois Divernon, Illinois Downers Grove, Illinois Frankfort, Illinois Machesney Park, Illinois Mackinaw, Illinois Hobart, Indiana Oak Park, Indiana Cedar Falls, Iowa Cedar Rapids, Iowa (2 reports) Indianola, Iowa Sioux City, Iowa Yale, Iowa Derby, Kansas Olathe, Kansas Overland Park, Kansas Broeck Pointe, Kentucky Homer, Louisiana Cornville, Maine Madison, Maine Carney, Maryland Valley Lee, Maryland Boston, Massachusetts Palmer, Massachusetts Reading, Massachusetts Mason, Michigan Tecumseh, Michigan Natchez, Mississippi Blue Springs, Missouri Centerville, Missouri Cole Camp, Missouri Glendale, Missouri Manchester, Missouri Piedmont, Missouri Sandown, New Hampshire Cedar Glen Lakes, New Jersey Frenchtown, New Jersey Hampton, New Jersey Jersey City, New Jersey White House Station, New Jersey Blossvale, New York Garrison, New York Jefferson, New York Wallkill, New York West Islip, New York West Kill, New York Concord, North Carolina Elizabeth City, North Carolina Fairfield Harbour, North Carolina Lake Toxaway, North Carolina Southport, North Carolina Cincinnati, Ohio Fremont, Ohio Glouster, Ohio Newalla, Oklahoma Bend, Oregon Rockcreek, Oregon Altoona, Pennsylvania Apollo, Pennsylvania East Norriton, Pennsylvania Lewisburg, Pennsylvania New Freedom, Pennsylvania Oakwood, Pennsylvania Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania Port Matilda, Pennsylvania Quakertown, Pennsylvania Conway, South Carolina Kiawah Island, South Carolina Ladys Island, South Carolina Salem, South Carolina Sans Souci, South Carolina Summerville, South Carolina Morrison, Tennessee Mount Juliet, Tennessee Rockwood, Tennessee Viola, Tennessee Appleby, Texas Austin, Texas Conroe, Texas Fort Worth, Texas Houston, Texas Jacksonville, Texas Katy, Texas Murchison, Texas Princeton, Texas Roman Forest, Texas Spring, Texas Basye, Virginia Chesapeake, Virginia Leesburg, Virginia Lexington, Virginia Manassas, Virginia Merrimac, Virginia Reston, Virginia Roanoke, Virginia East Hill-meridian, Washington Kalama, Washington Seattle, Washington Canvas, West Virginia Birchwood, Wisconsin Cambridge, Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin Muscoda, Wisconsin Pewaukee, Wisconsin Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin