Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lobelia, Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'

Family: Campanulaceae (kam-pan-yew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lobelia (low-BEE-lee-a) (Info)
Species: cardinalis (kar-dih-NAL-iss) (Info)
Cultivar: Queen Victoria

Synonym:Lobelia fulgens
Synonym:Lobelia x speciosa
Synonym:Lobelia splendens

12 vendors have this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ponds and Aquatics

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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10 positives
12 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Jul 20, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a spectacular plant. The late season flowers are showy and good for cutting, and the dark red foliage makes an equal contribution to the garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society has awarded this plant its coveted Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

However, in Boston (Z6a) I've never seen it survive the winter.

It is not a cultivar of L. cardinalis. It's a hybrid between L. cardinalis and the tender species L. fulgens (native to Mexico and Central America). It's from the latter that it inherits both its showy red foliage and its tenderness.

L. x speciosa is the grex name given to hybrids between L. cardinalis and L. fulgens.

According to the RHS, it's a short-lived perennial, lasting 7-10 years in the British Isles (mostly USDA Z8).

The northern limit of its hardiness is USDA Z7/8. It is also both shorter lived and more drought-sensitive than L. cardinals.

Both L. cardinalis and L. x speciosa form an evergreen rosette for the winter which doesn't like to be covered by protective mulch.

This hybrid can also be propagated from stem cuttings.

Positive lokidog On Jul 19, 2014, lokidog from Logan, UT wrote:

This is a beautiful plant, but in no way is it hardy to zone 3 - but it is more of a zone 7 plant. It may be that it's just not very long-lived, unless divided often, as well. The species L. cardinalis, is quite hardy, at least those ecotypes from cold-winter areas are. So the listing is really more for the species, not the cultivar. It is not hardy here in northern UT (unless protected). It seems especially prone to being damaged after the snow melts and hard freezes hit it at this time, so leave it protected till it's near the frost-free date (a few weeks before or so should be OK).

Positive yooperexpat On May 30, 2014, yooperexpat from Louisville, KY wrote:

I had this plant last for 2 seasons here in Louisville. It grew in a partly shaded area where the hose dripped every time I used it. It grew to 4 feet high and bloomed well. Nowadays I get 4 packs of young plants, pot them up in heavy soil and plunk them into my small bog gardens with the elephant ears and such. At the end of summer the water is drained off and they go into my 60 degree basement under a ceiling light and get a smidgen of water once a week. Everything comes thru the winter. I wouldn't leave them outside anymore. In the UP of Michigan I've seen red swamp lobelia growing by beaver ponds but don't know which one it is so one of them is very hardy

Positive yooperexpat On May 30, 2014, yooperexpat from Louisville, KY wrote:

I had this plant last for 2 seasons here in Louisville. It grew in a partly shaded area where the hose dripped every time I used it. It grew to 4 feet high and bloomed well. Nowadays I get 4 packs of young plants, pot them up in heavy soil and plunk them into my small bog gardens with the elephant ears and such. At the end of summer the water is drained off and they go into my 60 degree basement under a ceiling light and get a smidgen of water once a week. Everything comes thru the winter. I wouldn't leave them outside anymore. In the UP of Michigan I've seen red swamp lobelia growing by beaver ponds but don't know which one it is so one of them is very hardy

Positive FlyPoison On Jul 26, 2013, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is one of my favorite late summer blooming natives. It's a hummingbird magnet and blooms for many weeks in mid-late Summer. I've had mixed success with it returning from year to year and it never comes back from seed in our gardens. The seeds need to be immersed in water for an extended period in order to germinate. I usually transplant at least 2-3 every year in early Winter from an extremely abundant wild source. They do well in full to partial shade and heavy wet clay. They don't like to dry out too much, especially during the hottest part of the summer. This beauty is the reddest wildflower in our area. We grow one in an open garden with partial sun that needs occasional watering ; we have another that grows without having to water at all in full shade with NE exposure. In our area they grow wild on creek and river banks and boggy areas.

Positive jkrs10 On Jul 22, 2013, jkrs10 from Grand Pass, MO wrote:

My perennial plant has green foliage. The flower is red as pictured for Queen Victoria and a favorite of hummingbirds. It survives in regular garden soil with dry periods during summer, full sun, zone 5. I also have annual cardinal plants that I allow to reseed as food for hummers.

Negative Eldine On May 12, 2013, Eldine from Wellsville, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

Loved this in my garden last year- beautiful foliage and gorgeous red flowers. Had it next to some tango lily "cappuccino" by chance and the combination was striking! However, did not return in my zone 4 garden. Sooo disappointing! After reading other posts, I will probably not try it again. If this grows in your garden, try it with the Cappuccino Lily!

Positive gumboot On Aug 29, 2012, gumboot from chemainus
Canada wrote:

Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' is not as delicate as indicated in some data. Here on Vancouver Island (Zone 7) I have 2 separate clumps of this lovely plant planted 4 & 3 years ago. Both have been moved successfully out of harm's way as our local deer seem to like them as well .
They are in part-sun/part-shade areas as recommended. However, they do not flower until very late in the season (end of August/early September) so I will hold my breath and move them again. I suspect they may prefer more sun in our cooler climate.

Neutral tacomagardener On Aug 10, 2012, tacomagardener from Tacoma, WA wrote:

I just purchased this plant today at Lowes because there was a hummingbird enjoying all the queen victoria lobelias.. I just wanted to say that I'm a bit disappointed reading all the comments about it not wintering over. It's suppose to be able to survive -20. Hmmm. I had the same problem with a blanket flower that was suppose to be cold hardy, but they forgot to mention that if you have a really wet winter, the roots will rot, but since this Lobelia is suppose to be a bog plant, I'm not sure why it wouldn't return the next year. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

Neutral cball On Jul 9, 2012, cball from Garland, TX wrote:

I am giving the plant a neutral right now. I had them on the North side of the house for a month and had to water every day because they were getting too much sun. I moved them to a dappled shade area out back and they seem more happy. They are about four feet tall. I love the color of the foliage and flowers, but they are quite tall and leggy. I accidentally broke off a couple of flower stalks when I moved them and they are putting out new growth at each leaf group along the stalk so I assume they can be cut back to get a bushier plant. Time will tell.

Negative Gabrielle On Apr 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I've tried this twice and it didn't overwinter either time.

Neutral amallen On Mar 8, 2012, amallen from Johns Island, SC wrote:

This plant grows wild here on Seabrook in heavily shaded areas with moist soil but not necessarily in low, wet areas.. Will try it this summer in semi shade moist area under live oaks and also in sunnier garden with giant blue lobelia

Neutral jimdebharrison On Mar 5, 2012, jimdebharrison from Farmington, MI wrote:

Planting the Queen Victoria was the first of other plants I was planning to draw in hummingbirds. For about a week they were growing nicely. Then, I noticed it was being nibbled. Thinking it was the rabbits I put a 8 in chicken wire fencing around each one. But, in short order more was being eaten more. Assuming it was the squirrels I sprayed a baby shampoo recipe on it daily. This recipe had worked in the past but in short order they were all gone; all eaten up. Didn't actually see the hungry foe. I wished it had worked out. Any ideas how to get this lovely Lobelia but not get eaten up?

Positive Sonnenblume On Feb 1, 2011, Sonnenblume from Aurora, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

When I first bought the plant on the 4th of July sale at Lowe's here in Colorado it looked like the pictures of the Queen Victoria cultivar. But when it grew tall it looked more like the standard Lobelia, Cardinal Flower as depicted under that entry. I planted it in mostly shade with morning sun in a boggy area that gets watered along with the lawn and it loved it there last summer, grew really tall and bloomed a pretty red but the foliage turned back to green for some reason, I find that interesting, has anybody else experienced this too? I have a photo of the small plant growing looking like Queen Victoria but all the later pictures I took when the plant was tall and blooming show a much more green foliage!I still loved the plant and so far its 'existant' in the middle of winter but right now we are having a super cold spell so I hope it will make it as some people say it can act like an annual even though its supposed to be cold hardy. I do water it from time to time just in case as its very dry here. In the summer months I watered it very generously and it thrived. In fact it grew so tall it was the wonder of the garden!

Neutral ms_greenjeans On Aug 30, 2010, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I planted two of these this summer in my shade garden. This year the plants are rather spindly and floppy; I'm hoping they will "fatten up" some each year. I hear conflicting reports about hardiness, how long they live, and whether they self-seed. I guess I'll just have to wait and watch. The foliage is beautiful, and the brilliant red flowers are awesome, so if they are short-lived I'll probably just buy more or figure out how to propagate them.

Neutral ldg13 On Jun 11, 2010, ldg13 from Raleigh, NC wrote:

Does this plant go dormant? I purchased and had this plant doing beautifully in a relatively shady spot. I left town for a week. There was rain in that timeframe and a plant sitter doing backup watering. Nonetheless, when I returned, the plant was nowhere to be found.

Neutral Rosasharon On Jun 14, 2009, Rosasharon from Desloge, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I live in the humid conditions of the Midwest. I just purchased and planted a Queen Victoria Cardinal flower two weeks ago. After the fact, I read that it doesn't do well in the heat and humidity of our climate. I water it almost daily and it seems to be thriving. However, it's in a sunny garden and won't get any shade till a round 6PM. My question is - should I move it to another area...or maybe even a planter, or should I just continue to water often and hope that it adapts?

Neutral msfeatherflower On May 18, 2009, msfeatherflower from Sugar Land, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Does any gardener know if this plant can be pruned so that it isn't so lanky and has more than one bloom per stalk? I certainly hope so because I just cut it back by 1/3. I hope it doesn't die. It went from a 6" pot to a 4' tall plant in no time at all here in Sugar Land, TX. I love the maroon foliage, but I want it to be bushier. Any experience to offer on this question?

Neutral aspenbooboo41 On Jun 11, 2008, aspenbooboo41 from Whitehall, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Beautiful foliage & striking red flowers. Wilts easily in high heat and low moisture, but if you give it a drink it perks right back up. Plant is rated hardy to zone 3 or 4, but did not survive winter in zone 6a for me last year (hence the 'neutral' rating). I bought a few more plants because they are so lovely, and will try mulching-over this winter and see how that goes.

Positive Joy On Oct 27, 2007, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've grown 'Queen Victoria' Lobelia cardinalis in my garden for over 10 years. It hasn't been a short lived plant in my garden, perhaps it's only short lived in colder zones?

Positive flamingonut On Jul 22, 2007, flamingonut from New Milford, NJ wrote:

Striking foliage and haven't had any issues with flopping. I've seen conflicting hardiness ratings and am hoping it survives zone 6 winters. I had purchased it at a local nursery, on the perennial table.

Neutral JodyC On Nov 4, 2006, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I bought two of these on sale at Lowe' says hardy zones 3-9 to -40* I hope they are correct...grown by Sawyer Nursey in Hudsonville,MI. if it grows there it should grow here..I will update in the spring to add my zone if it makes it through the winter.

Positive Terry On Mar 1, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I agree the foliage alone makes this plant worth a spot in your garden.

Neutral Baa On Jun 26, 2002, Baa wrote:

There appears to be some confusion over the parentage of this particular cultivar, to avoid further confusing the issue I have not put a species name in. However, you may find Queen Victoria listed under L. cardinalis, L. splendens, L. fulgens and L. x speciosa. Update on names 3-8-06: Queen Victoria is now considered as a cultivar of L. cardinalis.

Short lived, clump forming perennial of garden origin.

Has lance shaped, glossy, deep purple/red leaves and stems. Bears red, two lipped flowers on tall stems.

Flowers August-October

Requires a moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. Is very happy in bog gardens.

Sadly not reliably winter hardy and may benefit from being brought in over winter in frost prone areas.

Queen Victoria has been given an RHS Award of Garden Merit, deservedly so in my opinion. The leaves alone are worth growing the plant for and the bright red flower spikes are very striking too.

The sap of this plant (as with all Lobelia) can irritate sensetive skins.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bear Valley Springs, California
Clayton, California
Fairfield, California
Roseville, California
Susanville, California
Aurora, Colorado
Fountain, Florida
Chicago, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Palmyra, Illinois
Davenport, Iowa
Harbert, Michigan
Mason, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
Byhalia, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
New Milford, New Jersey
Liberty, New York
Southold, New York
West Islip, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Dayton, Ohio
Geneva, Ohio
Dallas, Oregon
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Whitehall, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Ladys Island, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Logan, Utah
Grapeview, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Ocean Park, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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